Rajeev Circle Fellowship - trip memoir
This note captures in brief the events and happenings of the inaugural Rajeev
Circle fellowship program. This document will provide a broad overview to
future fellows on what they can look forward during their trip. I have
captured the information based on my experience of being part of the
We arrived on a Friday. We were all hosted at 543; Asha’s Palo Alto
residence. That gave us a couple of days to recover from the jet lag before the
visits and meetings started on Monday. We also used the weekend to get
familiarized with the University Avenue area.
We started with an informal dinner meeting with Asha on Sunday at her
Artherton residence. Ram, a key member of the Rajeev Circle team, was also
present at the gathering to have an informal interaction with us. Ram is a
serial entrepreneur in the valley and also was a student of Rajeev. Radhika
Shah, another key member of the Rajeev Circle team was also there for the
dinner gathering. Except for the few informal meetings with Asha, we had
the weekends to ourselves for the most part.
Monday: We visited the Stanford Institute Design also known as dSchool.
Professor Bani Banerjee hosted us, took us around the facility and provided
us with an insight into how their programs and facilivies were structured.
Asha also went to Tesla motors to receive her newly booked Model S. Elon
Musk himself had come to hand over the keys to Asha and the fellows who
accompanied Asha came back with autographs of the real life Iron Man. We
also got introduced to Justin Stanwix today. Justin was amazing company
and ended up being a great friend as well by the time the program got over.
Tuesday: We were invited to join for a breakfast meeting at Asha’s Artherton
residence. Two eminent personalities that were present at the meeting were
Tim OReilly & Anish Chopra. Later in the day, we visited the Facebook
office and were hosted by Srinivas Narayanan & Sriram Sankar. Late in the
evening, Vivek Paul paid a visit to 543 and we all spend some time conversing
with him over coffee.
Wednesday: This is the day we visited offices of Google & Coursera. At
Google, we were hosted by Aleksandra & Radhika Malpani; both Students of
Rajeev. At Coursera, we met one of the founders, Andrew Ng. We spent an
hour each at both meetings.
Thursday: Most of the meetings for the day were in San Francisco. We
visited Pivotal Labs, GetAround & Techshop in that order. The meeting after
this was the highlight of the day and possibly the high point of the entire trip.
After the Techshop meeting, we were escorted to the Square office for our
meeting with Jack Dorsey. To our delight, the meeting lasted over an hour
and Jack patiently took us through his journey of how he stumbled upon his
idea and subsequently went on to build Twitter & henceforth Square. Late in
the evening, there was a visit scheduled to StartX of Stanford, for an informal
interaction with the community there.
Friday: A visit to Silicon Valley wouldn’t be complete without a visit to
Sandhill Road. The impressive list of venture capitalist visits that were to take
place of the next few days started with our meeting with David Hornick of
Monday: We got to meet two of the heavy weights of the venture capital
world of Silicon Valley; Ram Shriram of Sherpalo Ventures and Marc
Andreessen of Andeessen Horowitz. One of the fellows, Sarthak Jain, got a
follow up meeting as well with Ram Shriram to present his idea in much more
Tuesday: It was YCombinator demo day and Asha invited me also to join her
to the event. Paul Graham is a great friend of Asha’s but unfortunately we
fellows did not get to meet him. In the evening, David McClure of 500
startups dropped by 543 to have an informal interaction with all the fellows.
Wednesday: We got an uncharacteristic off day today. A good part of it had
to do with the fact that one of our fellows, Deepak Ravindran, was
celebrating his birthday. Guess Asha decided to be generous and let us have
our time and fun on the occasion. We made the best use of the available time
and off we went to Napa Valley!
Thursday: Thursday turned out to be the San Francisco day again and as was
the case with the previous one, this Thursday was also one stacked with
multiple meetings. We first visited the Jawbone office. They demoed us the
impressive LiveAudio feature and we all were also gifted Up bands. We also
visited the AirBnB office, met Ron Conway in his SV Angel office and also
ran into Ewan Williams on the way to Ron’s office.
Friday: The last formal day of the fellowship program. We ended visiting one
of Asha’s portfolio companies today. Manish Chandra, CEO of Poshmark
and a serial entrepreneur himself, hosted us and took his through the amazing
growth journey of Poshmark right from its inception days. The last meeting
of the day and that of the trip was with NEA ventures. Kittu Kolluri & Sheel
Tyle were our gracious hosts at NEA.
We had a couple of days more before we started our journey back to India.
Its in the days in between that we did the road trip to 17 Mile Drive. A day
after that trip, now that the program was coming to an end, we all gathered
together one last time for dinner before we said our byes; Asha, the fellows
and the Rajeev Circle team members who made it happen.
The next day, we packed up, conveyed our gratitude to Asha and started our
journey back to India; after what turned out to be a one of a kind exposure
and experience for the Fellows. By the time we got back into that flight, our
outlooks and perspectives had already changed. We were taking back with us
one of the key ingredients of what make up the Silicon Valley culture. A
culture of pay it forward - one that kindred souls like Rajeev helped build and
one that nurturing individuals like Asha helps foster through her life and her
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