Notion on 20 Min VC Notes


The Twenty Minute VC takes you inside the world of Venture Capital, Startup Funding and The Pitch. Join our host, Harry Stebbings and discover how you can attain funding for your business by listening to what the most prominent investors are directly looking for in startups, providing easily actionable tips and tricks that can be put in place to increase your chances of getting funded.


Sarah Cannon is a Partner @ Index Ventures, one of the world’s leading venture funds with a portfolio including the likes of Dropbox, Skype, Figma, Bird, Slack and many more incredible companies. As for Sarah, at Index, she works with groundbreaking companies including Notion, Slack, Pitch, Quill and Instabase. Prior to Index Sarah spent time at CapitalG, Warburg Pincus and even worked in The White House as Policy Advisor for the National Economic Council.

Akshay Kothari is the COO @ Notion, the company that has taken the modern working world by storm as the all-in-one workspace to write, plan, collaborate and get organised. Just last week Notion raised a $50M round led by Index at a reported $2Bn valuation. Prior to Notion, Akshay spent 5 years at LinkedIn following his prior company, Pulse News, being acquired by LinkedIn in 2013.



Audio clippings made with Phonogram

The way Index Ventures get to lead Notion’s latest $50m fundraise

4m 39s

  • Sarah was on the board of Slack and saw the need for stock of information + asynchronous communication
  • Reached out with a standard email → ignored
  • Got the idea of just going to the Notion office with an invitation to Fraenkel Gallery (because she found out that Ivan Zhao, CEO, was interested in art/photography)
  • She also included a postcard by Marcel Duchamp, which Ivan appreciated and gave her a tour.
  • Sarah continued to exchange knowledge and suggestions. Even though Notion was not fundraising, the relationship helped close the round once the time and environment changed rapidly.

The reasons behind the timing and size of this round for Notion

1m 11s

  • there is uncertaintinty around when COVID-19 will end
  • we're treating it as an insurance policy
  • continue to hire the best people
  • show people that we're here for the long run
    • customers excited to continue to expand with Notion
    • employees excited to continue doing their best work
  • allows to hire the best talent in a tough environment

How Notion wants to change workplace applications by learning from the past

1m 51s

  • 60s: paper was the single medium of work
  • 80s: floppy disks fragmented the market
  • 90s: Microsoft bundled it together and dominated work with Office
  • 00s: work got fragmented again with new apps get built and distributed with internet
  • startups and organizations use way too many apps to work and switching kills productivity
  • Notion is trying to bring it "back to paper" allowing work to be done within a single medium

Notion role in the work application ecosystem

1m 55s

  • Slack and Zoom are very good for synchronous work
  • Notion is for asynchronous work
  • It allows to do a lot of leg work before having to do a meeting
  • There is a strong upside to do focused work
  • Long-term: allows people and organizations to shape the tools to their specific use case