Piyush Gupta

  • Operators
  • +
  • Strategic Development
“To see a founder go from idea to IPO is an incredible feeling. We get a front row seat to years of hard work that culminates into value crystallisation for the team and one step closer to building an enduring company.”

When I left for boarding school at the age of 10 from a small town in India, I barely spoke English.

Moving from a small town and a close-knit family to a boarding school with kids from big cities and adapting to that had a big impact on me on many levels. That theme carried on through my life and has now become a strength – to empathise with and understand people from all backgrounds and geographies. Muzaffarnagar, Dehradun, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and Singapore have all been home to me at different times.

Being competitive and academic by nature, I had a love for sports coupled with a deep interest in finance, commerce, and business growing up. After Grade 12, I was already studying earning reports and figuring out how to invest in stock markets. Information was very patchy back then.

I joined the Morgan Stanley India investment banking team after business school, where I focussed on mergers, acquisitions, and IPOs. I started to feel like a financial doctor, studying balance sheets, cash flows, P&Ls, and coming up with a diagnosis for companies. Subsequently, I moved to Deutsche Bank in Singapore and Hong Kong where I worked for 12 years before Sequoia India & Southeast Asia (now Peak XV) in 2017 as part of a newly-created Strategic Development team.

All the dots started connecting from the past. I was looking for the opportunity to go one layer deeper to understand businesses from day one and see them being built up through a closer lens. Getting a step closer to the founders, and seeing long-term thinking really play out, has been incredibly exciting.

The simple criterion for the SD team is ‘can our team make a real impact in this specific situation?’.

For early-stage companies, we take a more programmatic approach, such as UpSurge, where we provide a platform for multiple companies to meet with multiple investors over a few days. At later stages, M&A can be a crucible moment in the journey to becoming a large, enduring company.

Where our job gets incredibly interesting is when we help companies through the journey from pre to post IPO. Going public is an event and a milestone, but the work continues long after that and preparation is key.

Private companies enjoy more leeway from private investors, but public markets are less forgiving. Companies need to build new muscles before they step up to the main stage. Having a well-rounded management team, getting the accounting systems right, building good unit economics, and having predictability in your business are the four key ingredients to be prepared for an IPO and what comes after. Seeing founders go through this journey is incredibly satisfying, each and every time.

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