We will also continue to invest in more seed-stage companies, take co-founder roles and help them grow in GTM alliances, M&As and global expansions – Sunil Sapra, SeedOp, Full Interview

Sunil Sapra, Founder and Managing Director at SeedOp

Sunil Sapra, Founder and Managing Director at SeedOp

SeedOp is a Singapore based accelerator & operating partner providing expansion opportunities to global start-ups in the Asia Pacific region. They are a set of professionals and global executives, VAD’s, Systems Integrators and professional services companies that have come together to help businesses  flourish in the Asia region. SeedOp founders have successfully launched and grown 20+ start-ups under their unique co-operative partnership models and are actively helping many more.

Below is a transcript from a recent interaction between Sunil Sapra, Founder and Managing Director at SeedOp and team IT-Voice.

Prateek: Tell the readers about the inception of SeedOp, how did the journey start?

Sunil Sapra: The idea of SeedOp was born in 2008 when I was entrusted with the responsibility of reviving the India business of a mid-range global security player.  I realised that a major gap existed between corporate expectations and the ground reality of resellers and customers. 

For any global company, India business contributes 1-2% of the global revenue and hence attracts limited attention and budgets from the HQ. However, the local channel & customers expect bigger teams, support, and local investments before they adopt a new solution. 

Should I hire a team in Asia/ India and go through the remote management challenges or hire another account manager in a US territory is a question that most global CROs deliberate when it comes to expanding in Asia & India 

I co-founded Singapore based Asia Entry 2009 to bridge this gap and help start-ups expand in Asia in a more structured way with long term and consistent presence and support. That was the foundation of what became SeedOp in 2021.

Prateek: Could you elaborate on your core business offerings?

Sunil Sapra: SeedOp is 10X bigger, well-funded and nimbler avatar of my previous entrepreneurial ventures but the fundamental vision and mission remains the same – 

  • Help global start-ups land, expand, and scale in Asia markets.
  • Provide innovative, lower TCO and cutting edge technology alternatives to our partners and customers, backed by 24 X 7 robust local support.
  • Offer entrepreneurial opportunities to executives looking to take a leap.

At SeedOp, we also added more value-added businesses to our portfolio: 

  • Invest in Managed Services businesses (Security, cloud and infra)-  
  • To help our customers have better control on their IT infra and security. 
  • Provide customer success services and software development to our portfolio companies as well as other global start-ups.
  • Seed investments in cybersecurity, Privacy and Identity start-ups, help them raise funds, and support them with global GTM. 

Prateek: Did you encounter any barriers in the early stage of your business and if yes, how did you tackle them?

Sunil Sapra: Initially, few technology vendors didn’t understand our channel neutral model and confused us with VARs/ VADs, but the success of our first joint venture in 2011 changed it all. Our principal partners started believing in our value, credibility, speed of execution, heavy lifting, network, and the capital we invest in making their business successful here.

Our channel partners initially thought that we would compete with them, whereas we have always been and will always be working with and through them. We provide business development support, leads, pre & post-sales support, and better margins to our channel than a start-up would do if they launched here on their own. We have created our unique Private Equity model, albeit at a smaller scale.

Prateek: Could you tell us about the growth story of SeedOp and what will the company’s growth strategy be in the coming years?

Sunil Sapra: Within one year of operations, we have already made 6 investments, launched 4 exciting technologies in Asia, advised multiple startups, and are helping a few Indian companies scale globally.

We will continue to invest in more seed-stage companies, take co-founder roles and help them grow through GTM alliances, M&As and global expansions. We are the Sales co-founders that they never had. 

Not a week goes by when a global start-up, private investors, or people wanting to join hands don’t approach us.

We are also investing heavily in doubling our teams to support our customers and channel better and provide them with a complete portfolio of cutting-edge security solutions backed by top-class professional services. 

Prateek: How do you see India as a market through the lenses of overseas businesses and what needs to be improved?

Sunil Sapra: Indian customers and channels don’t care if you are a Unicorn or a hot company in the US. The VCs in the valley back to the future, whereas the customers and channel, want solutions that solve today’s problems at the fraction of a cost. 

If you are serious about the India market, you must have at least a 3-year plan in place. Anything less and you may end up burning money, time, and credibility. 

Although we have made many start-ups successful here, we also don’t claim to have a magic wand. What we offer is our replicable methodology SeedOp RAISE that will help you with goals, strategy, structure, approach, and the right team to execute better with a focus on short term wins as well as strategic expansion.

Prateek: Please share with us about the overall presence of SeedOp. Expansion plans in India?

Sunil Sapra: We have a presence across the Asia Pacific directly, through our group companies or ecosystem partners. Our current team strength is approximately 120 and that’s spread across our ventures covering all key functions such as sales, pre & post-sales, solution architects, customer success, delivery and development, and we are hiring more.

Prateek: How do you keep motivated your partners to perform well despite existing challenges? How do you support them?

Sunil Sapra: SeedOp key values are CARES – Commitment, Accountability, Resilience, Effectiveness and Sincerity. 

We work with our partners as their extended arms and true Asia business co-founders. Clarity, transparency, and truth are precious, they help build trust and save capital, efforts, and time.

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