Mayfield adds partner from IndieBio to expand into more engineering biology deals

Mayfield will also invest alongside IndieBio in their San Francisco batches every six months, as it cements its with the accelerator operator SOSV.

VC Arvind Gupta, Mayfield
Arvind Gupta, Mayfield. Photo by Alanna Hale.

Mayfield, which earlier this year raised $750 million for two new funds, is stepping up its practice in the bioengineering sector with the addition of bio specialist Arvind Gupta as partner.

Gupta is founder and managing director of IndieBio, a biotech accelerator, and was general partner at SOSV, the early-stage firm that operates the IndieBio accelerators in downtown San Francisco and the newly opened New York facility at Rockefeller University in Manhattan.

Gupta becomes the seventh partner at Mayfield and will work alongside partner Ursheet Parikh, who founded the firm’s healthcare and engineering biology practice.

In addition to adding Gupta to its roster, Mayfield is expanding its relationship with IndieBio. The firm said it will invest $100,000 into each batch of new start-ups that go through the San Francisco accelerator every six months. Typically, a batch consists of 10-12 companies.

Mayfield has previously invested in IndieBio companies and firm partners have advised entrepreneurs that go through the accelerator. Mayfield managing director Navin Chaddha said the firm is also joining forces with SOSV to co-found a new alliance called the Genesis Consortium to promote human and planetary evolution. Chaddha said details, such as what firms and corporations will also join the alliance, should come to light by the next quarter.

In recent years, other venture firms have increased their focus on the bio sector. In 2017, Menlo Ventures added Greg Yap as a partner to lead investments in life science companies. That same year, Dylan Morris joined CRV as a general partner to help build its bioengineering practice, which is led by George Zachary, who was previously focused on consumer-facing deals.

Chadda told Venture Capital Journal that the focus of Mayfield will be more than just biotech as it looks at the intersection of biology and engineering.

Chaddha noted that the planet is “at an inflection point in human and planetary evolution.”

He added: “As we enter the summer of 2020, we believe now is the time for biology to rebuild the world and ourselves one cell at a time.”

Chaddha said Mayfield will continue to invest in enterprise and consumer deals, and he said that engineering biology comprised about 20 percent of the firm’s Fund 15. He estimated that Fund 16, which closed on $475 million in March, will see engineering biology expand to make up from 25 percent to 30 percent of the fund.

For his part, Gupta will continue to serve as founder and venture advisor at IndieBio, where he will mentor new start-ups. At the accelerator, Gupta has worked with such engineering biology investments as Memphis Meats (developer new meat products from animal cells), Geltor (developer of designer proteins, such as collagen), Synthex (redefining peptide therapeutics), Endless West (developer of new process for creating wine and spirits), Prellis Biologics (developer of human tissue for organ transplants) and NotCo (developer of plant-based foods), among others.

Chaddha said the firm last year told its LPs that it planned to hire a new partner in the engineering biology space. When the latest fund was closed in March, the firm was not yet ready to bring on a new partner.

Chaddha said the hiring process during the lockdown from the covid-19 pandemic did not make matters difficult. He said Mayfield had worked with Gupta and knew him already.

“It would have been more difficult to get to know him if we were just introduced,” Chaddha said. “But even in a remote environment, we got to know each other and learn about the values we share.”