Sequoia launches Arc, a London/SV programme to uncover and nurture outlier entrepreneurs, with each receiving a $1 million investment.

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Sequoia Capital has built a reputation for making early-stage investments in startups, many of which have gone on to become tech giants (Apple, Klarna, and WhatsApp, to name a few).

Now, as investors compete to engage with the most promising startups first, and the field of founders looking to establish and launch businesses grows, the firm is adopting a different strategy. It is launching a new programme called Arc today, which it describes as a catalyst (rather than an accelerator or incubator) that will seek out and work with cohorts of about 15 startups over the course of eight weeks, with a focus on “outlier” founders and startups from across Europe and the United States.

Sequoia will provide startups with a $1 million upfront investment as well as mentoring on company design from partners and operators linked with the firm (for example, founders and other important people from companies it has backed) and a field trip to a legendary company to see it all in action. The first on-site visit will be to Klarna, where startups will meet with CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Camilla Giesecke (CXO), David Sandstrom (CMO), and David Fock (CPO).

Those interested can apply now through April 8, and the programme will begin on May 23. Arc’s inaugural cohort will be based in London for one week, followed by five weeks of working remotely wherever the startup is ordinarily based, one week of working on-site with another startup, and ultimately one week at Sequoia’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (Subsequent cohorts will do the same, but will begin in Silicon Valley with the first week.)

Jess Lee (below, left), a Sequoia partner and chief product officer located in Silicon Valley, and Luciana Lixandru (right), a partner based in the firm’s London office, will co-run Arc.

Sequoia will recruit applicants for Arc through an open process, according to Lixandru. Warm introductions aren’t taken into account, and anyone can apply to be examined, vetted, and accepted or refused on equal footing, thanks in part to the data science that Sequoia’s product team (headed by Lee) has developed internally to assess possible investments.

While the tech world has some tried and true corridors to feed the tech and startup ecosystems—Silicon Valley, certain universities, and previously holding a key role at another successful tech company being three of the most stereotypical and relied-on—the growth and increasing decentralisation of that ecosystem, accelerated by the last two years of everyone working remotely due to COVID-19, is the idea here.

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