US-based venture capital firm Accel has launched a learning platform – SeedToScale – to help early-stage founders with targeted content, sector-focused programmes and mentorship.

The company, which has backed leading technology startups including Flipkart, Freshworks and Swiggy, said the initiative is not limited to its own portfolio, but open to the entire entrepreneurial community.

“As our companies have scaled, we have seen that almost every challenge you find in growth

stages could have been fixed at the seed stage, if founders knew,” said Shekhar Kirani, Partner, Accel.

The aim is to pass on the actionable playbook to a wider set of founders. “Our key aim with the program is to democratize what we have learned…Our key issue so far has been our scope of interaction has been limited to a few set of companies, about 1,000 plus…and also limited to a few cities,” said Abhinav Chaturvedi, Partner at Accel.

The aim is to pass on the actionable playbook to a wider set of founders. “Our key aim with the program is to democratize what we have learned…Our key issue so far has been our scope of interaction has been limited to a few set of companies, about 1,000 plus…and also limited to a few cities,” said Abhinav Chaturvedi, Partner at Accel.

“We want to share highly-curated insights, networks and playbooks from founders, investors and operators of the Indian startup ecosystem,” added Anand Daniel, Partner at Accel.

Over the last year, top venture capital firms including Accel, Sequoia and Chiratae have made structured programs to snap up startups early. These include launching separate seed-stage funds, specialized accelerators and mentorship programmes.

For funds, getting in early helps garner the right ownership as well as rights in follow-ons to make potentially outsized returns, while structured programs increase the odds of those wins.

SeedToScale includes Accel’s podcasts, as well as focussed programmes, for instance, in July it started an accelerator called ReBound, exclusively for second- and third-time founders.

“Today, there is a supply of high-quality founders in the market…but we see sometimes, founders need handholding with insights on what makes a company succeed at scale, how business models and go-to-market strategies evolve. In short, aiming for founders to make fewer mistakes is what we push for,” Kirani said.

The firm also runs another initiative called Founders Stack to help companies that have yet to find a product market fit. “Today, capital itself is not a differentiator, the value you bring to the table beyond cash is what entrepreneurs look for,” said a second-time founder who is running his business in stealth mode.

In December, Accel raised about $550 million for its sixth India fund, taking its assets under management to $1.5 billion. Sequoia Capital has started a separate Surge fund, a Y Combinator equivalent, 16-week rapid scale-up programme for startups in India and Southeast Asia, which invests $1-$2 million.

Surge has built a full-stack product-based community to engage with portfolio founders – on the Surge App, founders can now seek help to hire talent, brainstorm growth hacks, rate investor interactions, and seek mentorship in a closed setting. Even funds that do not have a differentiated programme are scouting for early deals and competing for the same pool of high-quality entrepreneurs. Lightspeed, for instance, said it is backing founders even before they launch their product.

“70% of our investments in the last 30 years in India have been seed or Series A,” said Dev Khare, Partner at Lightspeed in a recent interview.

Accel’s investment patterns are similar. These large funds are also competing with smaller seed-stage funds, including WaterBridge, Quona Capital, Inventus and YourNest, who have over the last 18 months established their presence with some high profile exits.

Last year, Accel elevated three executives — Abhinav Chaturvedi, Prayank Swaroop, and Barath Shankar Subramanian — to Partners from Principals earlier, making Accel India partnerships one of the largest in the venture capital industry.