Welcome, Sunil Rao, to Lightspeed India!
With our focus on early-stage investing and company-building comes the responsibility of partnering with and supporting exceptional founders who have a compelling vision for their companies but are early in their journey.
We believe deeply in, and enjoy, actively partnering with founding teams. As a result, we find ourselves repeatedly working with our portfolio companies in a few areas. In the first couple of years after a seed or Series A investment, these areas typically include:
- Thinking about critical additions to the leadership team based on what the company will need to do to succeed as well as new skill-sets required to complement existing capabilities
- Recruiting, mainly in areas like product management and operations
- Iterating to product-market fit by focusing on a customized set of metrics and milestones (which vary widely for example for commerce companies vs. network-driven companies vs. enterprise companies)
- Validating the business model by constantly testing and level-setting on what the right model may end up being
- Supporting critical technology decisions through introductions to other entrepreneurs or CTOs who have faced similar decisions and/or connections to the right vendors
- Enabling access to other entrepreneurs in our global network who have faced similar ‘fork in the road’ decisions or operate similar businesses
- Financial management, specifically setting spend plans relative to value creation milestones
- Introducing founding teams to critical partners and/or first customers.
As companies mature, we also help with raising capital in new financings, improving governance and ultimately managing exits through M&A or IPO.
Over the past few years, as we’ve grown our portfolio, we’ve made a conscious effort to remain true to our early-stage investment focus and active company-building approach. Increasingly we realized that this necessitated having a dedicated team to support an increasing number of portfolio companies — a team that can proactively bring the full force of the Lightspeed global network to bear for the benefit of our companies.
To spearhead this effort, we are proud to have Sunil Rao join us as Partner, Business Services and Community. Its unusual to find someone like Sunil who has spent their entire career supporting eco-systems and building community — he spent the last ten years leading strong partner- and developer-focused organizations at Google, Nokia and Symbian.
Sunil joins us from Google where he spent nearly five years heading strategic partner development, developer relations and outreach programs for India — including programs such as Sand Hill and Launchpad. Prior to that, Sunil spent three years at Nokia, running developer relations and the Forum Nokia app store for India. And before that, he was at Symbian for three years as head of ecosystem development. Sunil was at BFL Software, HCL Perot and Talisma at the beginning of his career.
We’re really fortunate to have someone of Sunil’s experience and energy join our team and are delighted to welcome a senior professional who loves spending all his time thinking about how Lightspeed can move the needle for our companies and engage more deeply with the start-up community.
~ Bejul & Dev