Neil Sequeira
founder & partner

 Neil Sequeira
1st-gen immigrant >> pioneering venture capitalist

“My parents arrived in the US with literally nothing—but through education, they found jobs they loved. They inspired me to find a 20-year career where I can return capital to nonprofits, hospitals and the educational institutions that make it all possible.”

As a founder and partner at defy, and after more than two decades as a venture capitalist, I am inspired every day to help amazing entrepreneurs realize their dreams. My role is to serve as a confidante and help entrepreneurs build their teams, expand their networks, identify new customers, pull in revenue, solidify partnerships, and assist with future fundraises. Having sat on over 50 boards, I am committed to being my CEO’s most helpful and supportive board member and to bringing significantly more value than just the capital we invest.

Prior to defy, I was a Managing Director at General Catalyst Partners for 12 years where in 2004 I joined a couple of years after the firm’s founding. Defy is a dream realized as I have close connections fostered over decades with most of the team, all of our Sages, a majority of our investors and many of our CEO’s. We built this firm to look and act differently as we believe a set of diverse backgrounds, relationships and experiences drive better returns. Those returns go back to our amazing LP’s thus supporting prestigious universities, legendary hospital groups and the leading non-profits in the US. Our culture is one of transparency, hard work, authenticity, honesty, creativity, humility and a true desire to make the world a better place for everyone in society through innovation.

At our core we are investors who are successful because of the visionary founders we support. My success is thanks to people like Reggie Bradford (Vitrue), Sam Blackman (Elemental), Jessica Alba, Brian Lee and Christopher Gavigan (The Honest Company), Bharath Madhusudan (Securly), Steve Miller (Highwinds), Bryan Goldberg (Bustle), Sujal Patel (Nautilus and Elemental), Jeff Sherwin (ThisTech), Chad Rubin (Skubana), Gino Zhand (, Justin Shaffer (HotPotato), Avner Ronen (Boxee), Itzhak Gurantz (Entropic) and Ben Wolin (Everyday Health). I am incredibly blessed to have invested in their companies and sat on their boards in their earliest rounds of institutional financing, years before their eventual exit. I am proud that these are more than my references but also my close friends.

Before becoming a venture capitalist, I first learned about innovation from my father, a 33 year IBM engineer and Paul Tollet, the founder of Goldenvoice and Coachella, who was my first boss in 1993. Along the way, I gained important skills and life lessons at Accenture and Goldman Sachs & Co. I experienced the pain of the Internet bubble firsthand at CMGI which was my first job after business school. CMGI was followed by working with an exceptional group of people at AOL Ventures who I often work and invest with today. After learning about the challenges of mergers, I became the Managing Director, technology for Time Warner Investments before ultimately joining General Catalyst.

I earned a BA in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. I was born in Oakland and grew up in San Jose and was educated in the public school system until graduate school. Giving everyone the opportunity to learn and be successful inspires many of our investments and was the reason I became a trustee and board member of the Woodside Unified School District in November of 2020.

I have three kids—Siena, Sofia and Max—who are all amazing and growing up much too fast. I met my wife Julie in business school, and she is the current President of the Woodside School Foundation. While I have lived in LA, Chicago, Washington DC, New York and Boston, I am a true Bay Area native and have developed a lifelong passion for the A’s, 49ers, Warriors and Sharks.

If you are an entrepreneur with a willingness to run through walls to bring your vision and mission to reality, reach out to us at defy. We are a different venture capital firm.

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