Sequoia Capital Scout Program: Transforming the Venture Capital Landscape

Tuesday, May 16, 2023


Sequoia Capital, the legendary venture capital firm that backed giants like Apple, Google, and Airbnb, is well known for its uncanny ability to spot winners. Less well-known, but no less significant, is the secret weapon in Sequoia's arsenal: its Scout Program. This innovative approach to sourcing early-stage startups is redefining the investment landscape and fostering the next generation of successful ventures.

History of the Sequoia Scout Program

Launched in 2009, the Sequoia Scout Program aimed to widen the firm's net for startup discovery. It was conceived in response to the recognition that great ideas often spring from unexpected places. Initial challenges revolved around selecting the right scouts, establishing efficient communication channels, and refining a compensation system that balanced incentives with fairness. Despite these teething issues, the program quickly established its value, leading to a sustained increase in the breadth and quality of Sequoia's deal flow.

The Sequoia Scout Program Today

Fast forward to today, the Scout Program is a pivotal part of Sequoia's operations. Boasting hundreds of scouts globally, it covers an extensive range of sectors, from tech to healthcare to climate science. Managed by a dedicated team at Sequoia, the program is well-structured and efficient, proving its worth time and again through its consistent track record of successful investments.

Becoming a Sequoia Scout

Scouts come from diverse backgrounds. They are founders, tech executives, early employees of startups, or anyone with an ear to the ground in innovation hotspots. Prospective scouts are thoroughly vetted to ensure they align with Sequoia's vision and values. Once on board, scouts undergo training to understand Sequoia's investment thesis, learn evaluation criteria, and align their scouting efforts with the firm's strategic objectives.

Role of a Sequoia Scout

A scout's mission is to identify promising startups that align with Sequoia's investment thesis. They keep their finger on the pulse of innovation, attend startup events, and leverage their networks to spot potential unicorns early. They evaluate potential investments based on the founding team, market potential, product, and business model, and then refer those that pass muster to Sequoia's investment team.

Compensation and Incentives

One of the unique aspects of the Sequoia Scout Program is its compensation structure. Scouts receive carry, a share of the profits, if the startups they refer have successful exits. This not only serves as an incentive but also aligns the scouts' interests with those of Sequoia, creating a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Success Stories

The Scout Program has been instrumental in Sequoia's investment in numerous successful startups. Notable examples include unicorns like Dropbox, Stripe, and Thumbtack. Scouts spotted these potential game-changers at a nascent stage, proving the effectiveness of this grassroots approach to venture capital.

Impact on the Venture Capital Landscape

The Sequoia Scout Program has left an indelible mark on the venture capital landscape. It has expanded the horizons of venture capital, democratizing access to capital for startups outside traditional networks. The program's success has inspired other VC firms to develop similar programs, thereby creating a more inclusive and far-reaching venture ecosystem.

Looking Ahead

As Sequoia looks to the future, the Scout Program remains central to its growth strategy. The firm plans to continue expanding the program, focusing on diversity among scouts and reaching into untapped markets and sectors. They're also investing in tools and resources to support their scouts, continually refining the program based on feedback and results.


The Sequoia Scout Program is more than a strategic move by one of the world's most successful venture capital firms - it's a testament to the power of decentralization and diversification in the quest for innovation. It reflects a visionary understanding that great ideas aren't the exclusive domain of established tech hubs and traditional networks. They can, and do, emerge from the most unexpected places.

Scouts, with their unique insights and access to grassroots-level developments, serve as critical conduits for these ideas, bridging the gap between inventors and investors. In return, they receive not just financial rewards, but also invaluable exposure to the world of venture capital, opportunities for personal and professional growth, and the satisfaction of playing a part in the success stories of tomorrow.

The Sequoia Scout Program's success offers vital lessons for venture capitalists, startups, and indeed, for any organization or individual seeking to thrive in the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of technology and innovation. It emphasizes the importance of staying open to new ideas, the value of diverse perspectives, and the power of well-aligned incentives. Above all, it underscores the central role of people – their skills, their relationships, their insights – in driving the wheels of progress.

As we look to a future marked by rapid technological advancement and unprecedented opportunities for innovation, the role of initiatives like the Sequoia Scout Program will only grow in significance. They represent not just a better way to invest, but a better way to nurture the ideas and talent that will shape the future of our world.

There's no crystal ball to predict which startup will be the next unicorn. But with its army of well-trained, motivated scouts, Sequoia Capital is ensuring that when the next big thing does arrive, they'll be right there, ready to recognize it, nurture it, and guide it towards transforming our world for the better.‍

David Haddad

David is the founder of Superscout.

Want to become a VC scout?

Join the free Superscout community!

🌍 Meet other scouts globally.
👀 Get first dibs on new scout programs and VC openings.
✨ Get feedback and investor recommendations for your deal memos.
✌️ Learn and grow together as a community!

Previous How-To's & Guides

Want to become a VC scout?

Join the free Superscout community!

🌍 Meet other scouts globally.
👀 Get first dibs on new scout programs and VC openings.
✨ Get feedback and investor recommendations for your deal memos.
✌️ Learn and grow together as a community!