Calling All AI-First Founders

July 20, 2023

Sharing highlights from the past 6 months including $955 million raised across our two latest funds, founder journeys & insights, and the Mayfield Way - it’s been a wild ride in Silicon Valley (to say the least), but we’re eternal optimists in the power of entrepreneurs to build a bright future.

$250 Million Seed Fund Powers the Launch of Your Inception to Iconic Journey

Today we are announcing the $250 million Mayfield AI Start, our first seed fund, out of which we will invest in AI-first founders starting at Day Zero.

Mayfield has a long history of championing entrepreneurs on their inception to iconic journeys. We believe in serving as trusted partners to entrepreneurs at every stage, always striving to watch the founder’s back and act as their safety net. We consider ourselves a full-stack VC, with our investors and founder amplification leaders helping on strategy, hiring, customer intros, messaging, and follow-on financings. The earliest stage of company formation, when often all you have is a team and an idea, is one that has always excited our team of founders turned investors.

As we observed the current Cambrian explosion in AI-first companies, and invested in over 20 founding teams, we realized that we are in the midst of a once-in-a-generation paradigm shift.

We believe that Gen.AI requires a specialized focus – not just in dedicated investing capital - but also in operational prowess that’s as unique and forward-thinking as the Gen.AI industry itself. We also believe that bold founders will require loyal investors with deep investing and operating experience, and diverse pools of capital to accelerate their journey. We have, therefore, decided to extend our craftsperson approach and People First philosophy with the $250 million Mayfield AI Start, the first dedicated seed vehicle in our history, which will support founders at the inception stage of their journey.

We have added Vijay Reddy as our dedicated AI Start partner, who brings a decade-long track record of successful seed stage investing. He has invested across all layers of the AI stack, following an “AI +X” thesis. Some of his past investments include AEye (NASDAQ: LIDR), BabbleLabs (acquired by Cisco), DataRobot, Joby (NASDAQ: JOBY), Lilt, and SambaNova.

Mayfield AI Start will draw from our current funds as well as from our $955 million pool of new capital, which was announced in May of this year.

All our seed companies will benefit from access to the best-of-breed experts on our Founder Amplification Platform, an offering that has been proven to amplify founder impact by accelerating their journey from idea to escape velocity.

We believe that we are at the dawn of the Gen.AI era, similar to the prior web, mobile and cloud eras, which represents a sea change in how consumers and businesses will interact with technology. Our investment team has navigated inflection points and downturns for over two decades and here are five of their insights to guide AI-First founders.

01. Learn from History: The Six Layers of the Cognition-as-a-Service Stack
02. Identify what Innovation Bet You are Making
03. Practice Responsible AI
04. Think of AI as Your Teammate
05. Remember that Company Building is a Marathon, not a Sprint

Our Track Record

In the recent past, we have served as inception-stage investors to over 100 companies, including CloudGenix, CloudSimple, Frore Systems, Lyft, Mammoth Biosciences, Nuvia, Portworx, Poshmark, Rancher, Securiti, and Volterra.

Our philosophy is driven by a set of six operating principles and values we call The Mayfield Way: living People First, acting with conviction, practicing the early stage VC craft, nurturing a collaborative culture, investing in mega-themes, and embracing conscious capital.

Let’s Build the Gen.AI Movement Together!

Looking forward to serving as seed stage partners to bold AI-first founders who are dreaming big and riding the Gen.AI wave. Let’s build the Gen.AI movement together!

- Navin Chaddha, Managing Partner