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These founders tapped into their network from an Indian university with famous alums like Vinod Khosla to raise $50 million for their startup, DevRev

Published by Business Insider on Wed, 14 Jul 2021


<p><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/60edd74661b8600019f16dbc-2400/Founder photo .jpeg" border="0" alt="Dheeraj Pandey and Manoj Agarwal, cofounders of DevRev" data-mce-source="DevRev" data-mce-caption="Dheeraj Pandey and Manoj Agarwal, cofounders of DevRev"></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>When Dheeraj Pandey and his cofounder Manoj Agarwal wanted to raise money for their next startup, they tapped into the alumni network of the Indian Institutes of Technology, where they both graduated from in 1997.</p><p>Pandey, a Nutanix cofounder and former CEO, and Agarwal have unveiled their next act: a startup called DevRev. The company has raised $50 million, which includes backing from 12 investors who are part of the IIT alumni network, including Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla and Navin Chaddha, managing director at Mayfield.&nbsp;</p><p>"I didn't see a deck or a plan," said Khosla, who graduated from IIT in 1976, in an exclusive interview with Insider. "He wasn't even sure exactly what direction it would take, but I knew him and his team. That's really all it took for us to say, we are in, we are supportive." Khosla was also an early investor in Nutanix.</p><p>IIT has become a Silicon Valley founder factory of sorts, with an alumni network that also includes Poshmark's Manish Chandra, Alphabet's Sundar Pichai, Nikesh Arora, CEO of Palo Alto Networks and Rubrik's Bipul Sinha.&nbsp;</p><p>The idea for DevRev came from Pandey's observations as a former CEO, where he saw a lack of collaboration between developers in the "back office," and customer support and sales in the "front office." DevRev's aim is to enable developers and customers to communicate and collaborate with each other through a customer relationship management system.&nbsp;</p><p>"We want to defy this logic of, 'hey, you need to keep developers in the back office because what if they spoke something differently and they're awkward and they're not social people,'" he said.</p><p>Being apart of the IIT network is also a huge benefit for startup recruiting, since students graduating from the university have six or seven job offers waiting for them, Agarwal said. DevRev has already recruited 75 employees, many from IIT.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>IIT has 23 campuses throughout India with a curriculum that is mostly focused on churning out electrical and computer engineers. Pandey and Agarwal graduated from the IIT Kanpur campus. The university admits the best and brightest minds, and Silicon Valley has long benefitted from graduates like Pandey who left India with $900 in his pocket to build Nutanix into a $4.65 billion company at the time of its US IPO in 2016.&nbsp;</p><p>The IIT network is not only beneficial for founders looking to fundraise. Investors like Chaddha and Khosla say they also tap into the network to find the next big unicorn to invest in.&nbsp;<br><br>"IIT shaped my thinking, gave me a platform to come to the US, and a network that has nurtured me and in which I have found entrepreneurs and talent to invest in," said Chaddha, who has invested in other founders that graduated from IIT, like Poshmark's Manish Chandra.<br><br>Since it's harder to get into IIT than MIT, according to Khosla, he knows a founder's pedigree when he sees the university on their rsum. And while it's not the only thing he looks for, being an IIT grad does help him apply a "stringent filter" to his selection process when getting to know founders.&nbsp;<br><br>Khosla knows IIT's engineering graduates have been through an extremely competitive environment, completed one of the hardest entry exams in the world, and are willing to take big risks as immigrants.</p><p>"Coming to the US into a foreign country with much less support from family is a huge selection filter on risk-taking in my view, and can give you a leg up, for sure," he said.</p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/vinod-khosla-iit-alums-invest-in-startup-devrev-50m-round-2021-7#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p>
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