Building Bridges with Builders
At General Catalyst, two of the values that guide us are ‘Depth of Relationship’ and ‘Generosity of Spirit’. As we doubled down in India this year and grew our portfolio to 22 companies (ranging from pre-seed to early growth stage - across consumer and b2b marketplaces, crypto, software, fintech, climate tech, healthcare etc.), we wanted to live these values and show up for our founders as a single global partnership–especially in these uncertain times. Enter Namaste Silicon Valley.
Our founders consistently ask us for 3 key things – a global stage, a convening moment that brings together Silicon Valley and India, and space to build deep bonds with team GC and with each other. True to the hybrid world we live in, we decided to launch the inaugural cohort of Namaste Silicon Valley as a 3-week boot camp – two weeks via Zoom and one in person in Palo Alto. Creating an environment of high-trust both physically and virtually would allow them to be vulnerable and truly reflect on their journeys.
This was a bit of an experiment, to be honest. Much like our founders, we decided to start building and iterate based on learning and discovery. In crafting this beta version of the program, we were on a journey to achieve ‘product-market fit’, similar to what many of our founders do. We are thankful to everyone in team GC who contributed as mentors to the companies as well as participated as speakers during the in-person part of the program. We are also grateful to Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures), Shreyas Doshi (ex-Stripe), Chandar Pattabhiram (Coupa), Vikas Chaudhary (Reliance Jio), Priya Rajan (Silicon Valley Bank) and others who joined our founders to run workshops on key topics and host events. In particular we appreciate the efforts of Arushi Jindal, who joined GC as a Summer Intern from Harvard Business School and helped stand up this program.
Our favorite part of the program was seeing the deep and meaningful relationships that were built among the founders. Ranging from experiencing what makes Silicon Valley special (including a guided Stanford tour with one of our own, Stanford alumna and Olympic Gold Medallist swimmer, Maya Andrews) to bonding over cricket and drives, we were excited to see a deep sense of community.
As we wrapped up week 3, it became clear that we were on to something very special.. we were also heartened by feedback notes from our founders like the one below -
“Coming to the valley and getting exposure to the entire GC partnership was refreshing and something we haven’t experienced with any other investor before. Each person that came, interacted with us made us feel extremely genuine about their approach, whether it was Trevor (Oelschig) casually talking to us, Paul (Kwan) teaching us the macro or Paul (Fielding) talking to us about the world. It truly made me feel like we can reach out to folks here just as partners in our company and not global investors investing in India. It genuinely made me feel like family, which is a special thing to feel when you imagine a founder investor relationship. Thank you for your warmth, and I’m now going back fully charged back to India :)”
The Sanskrit word “Mudita” stands for deriving joy from the success and well-being of others. This is the perfect way to describe the immense joy we feel in helping to contribute – in whatever way we can – to the success and well-being of these extraordinary founders.
We look forward to the next chapter of Namaste Silicon Valley as we continue to expand our work in India. We are excited for what the future holds and will continue to listen for ideas from the community to make this even better.