Varun Talwar has already raised tens of millions of dollars to empower developers to build more new technology faster and to drive the success of small to enterprise-sized companies.
On the Dealmakers Show, Talwar shared how he encountered the seeds of entrepreneurship, his experiences working at Google India, and his tips for picking investors and working with them in your journey. Plus, how his startup is fueling what’s next.
The Seeds Of Entrepreneurship
Varun Talwar was born and grew up in New Delhi in India: a city he describes as being modern and busy.
He also highlights that in developing economies like this and China, few people worry about finding their passion or purpose, and instead focus on study and career paths with the best chances for success in finding stable jobs.
He was blessed in that what he loved and was good at also happened to be in one of these “acceptable” career paths. He was always good at math and science. Varun was growing up when IT and the internet began booming in India–which naturally led him to study computer science through college and pursue his Master’s degree.
Varun ended up joining a new MIT program in Singapore. Even all the way back then, in 2002 he says the school had smooth, latency-free video education for streaming in MIT professors and enabling them to interact.
The cultural melting pot of Singapore, with smart students from all over Asia, in conjunction with this education, is what he says began to plant the seeds of entrepreneurship he would seize on later.
After completing his Master’s degree, Varun was recruited to Google India in 2006.
Google was just starting there, trying to figure out the market and its products and services. Talwar began by being tasked to figure out local search and maps– no small feat given many of the roads there weren’t named. It was a great test in applying Google’s power to a completely new market.
Fortunately, he says it was made a lot easier with a well-pampered workplace, including butlers who would bring food to your desk on demand.
He ended up working on YouTube in India and building up their content and advertisers. He did so well that Google moved him to the Bay Area in California, and began putting him on new tasks and projects.
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Finding Your Problem
Before starting his own company, Tetrate, Varun spent several more years at Google, helping them with Google Cloud Marketplace, Stubby, gRPC, and Istio. Google’s strategy was to give developers access to open source technologies and have them fall in love with them, before giving them managed solutions.
During this time, he learned a lot about the challenges facing app developers and building microservices.
He found a lot of fragmentation and inefficiencies. Developers not only had to build the core of their business applications but then build and piece together all of the other basics to support deployment and operations, such as security, authentication, and authorization.
Varun’s infrastructure solutions gave Google and its engineers a huge advantage in productivity.
Others outside of Google also needed these capabilities and benefits, and they weren’t being served. That was the launching point for Varun and his cofounder from Twitter, Jeyapraggash Jeyakeerthi, to start their own business: Tetrate.
Picking Your Investors For The Journey
Tetrate has already raised $52.5M through a Series B round of fundraising. Their investors include Dell, Intel, and Samsung. Varun seems to have taken a very intelligent and savvy approach to picking strategic investors and working with them.
This is an area in which entrepreneurs and their startups can fail hard, at the expense of their own roles in their own companies and in the survival of the business itself.
It’s a massive problem Steve Jobs had to deal with. If you’ve seen the documentary on General Magic you will have learned just how ugly it can get when you get this wrong.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Varun Talwar was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
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ACCESS THE PITCH DECK TEMPLATE
Raising Funding for Tetrate
Tetrate has already raised $52.5M through its Series A and B rounds of fundraising. Their investors include Sapphire Ventures, Scale Venture Partnrs, NTTVS, 8VC, Dell Technologies Capital, Intel Capital, and Samsung NEXT.
Varun seems to have taken a very intelligent and savvy approach to picking strategic investors and working with them.
This is an area in which entrepreneurs and their startups can fail hard, at the expense of their own roles in their own companies and in the survival of the business itself. (It’s a massive problem Steve Jobs had to deal with: If you’ve seen the documentary General Magic you will have learned just how ugly it can get when you get this wrong).
This founder has chosen to work with his investors closely, instead of hiding and providing the minimal amount of fluffy reporting that some are tempted to give their boards.
He has found success in being transparent and authentic with investors, and where you really are in the process, as well as asking for help where it is needed. After all, this is where the best benefits of onboarding investors and capital really come from. That can be true whether it is entering new markets, getting to market, filling HR gaps, raising money, or acquiring essential tools.
He says they want to help you grow their investment if you let them.
Most importantly, he says to focus on the partner at the capital firm you will be dealing with, not the company brand name. Be sure this is someone that you want to live, work, and breathe the same air with every day for the next 10 years.
Though be sure that you are also bringing in those that really complement and fill your skills gaps. Valuation, terms, and the other details of funding are a distant second or third to this.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Google as the benchmark for performance
- Harnessing more security and reliability for your business
- The vision of Tetrate
- Varun Talwar’s top advice when building a startup of your own