Saving the World with BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin & Ursheet Parikh

Rewiring the Brain to Improve the Quality of Life | Mayfield x TechCrunch Disrupt

TRIPP is a digital psychedelic platform that fully immerses you into alternate realities to improve your mental and emotional well-being. Nēsos’ purpose-built earbuds retrain neural pathways to control inflammation, creating the new category of e-mmunotherapeutics. Mindstrong is transforming mental health through innovations in virtual care, data measurement, and data science. The brain is in a state of constant evolution, responding to new electrical signals from the senses and nerves. Hear from these neuroscientists, physicians, and entrepreneurs about how to build brain-based businesses that improve the quality of life.

Saving Lives with Precision Biology | Mayfield x TechCrunch Disrupt

Illumina is the world leader in next-generation sequencing. Adaptive Bio is the leader in immune-driven medicine. Mission Bio pioneered single cell multi-omics for genotype and phenotype. And Endpoint is developing precision therapies for inflammatory illness, sepsis, ARDS and more. Hear from these 4 leaders who are leveraging biology breakthroughs to save lives on a wide range of topics including translating innovation from bench to bedside, aligning incentives with the ecosystem, getting to reimbursement, exploring SPACs and beyond.

Taking Care of the Next Generation | Mayfield x TechCrunch Disrupt

KiwiCo empowers kids to explore, create and learn with hands-on kits. Mirvie provides a personalized window into pregnancy for early detection and intervention. Grove is committed to a plastic-free future with its line of eco-friendly beauty, home and lifestyle products. Hear from these 3 exceptional entrepreneurs about their mission to create a better world for our generation and the next ones, building movements and communities, and the milestones in getting to escape velocity.

The New Human and Planetary Health Pioneers | Mayfield x TechCrunch Disrupt

Mammoth Biosciences, co-founded by Nobel Laureate Jennifer Doudna, is the industry’s first CRISPR platform company. It has already delivered a breakthrough Covid test and has inked partnerships for novel CRISPR diagnostics, therapeutics and biomanufacturing with leading healthcare companies. NotCo is combining artificial intelligence and deep science to re-invent the food industry, starting with a milk alternative product with many more to come. Hear about the founder journey from these breakout companies and tips for scaling your business.

Bioplatforms for Saving the Planet | Mayfield x TechCrunch Disrupt

Twist’s synthetic DNA is re-inventing the fields of medicine, agriculture, industrial chemicals, and data storage. Ginkgo has developed custom strains of organisms to make fragrances, fertilizers, lab-grown meat, hunt for natural antibiotics, and engineer probiotics. Hear about the founder journeys of these two iconic entrepreneurs from inception through IPO and beyond, and how they are changing our world for the better.

GraphWear: Solving a Holy Grail Problem to Save Billions of Lives

two men on blue textured background with GraphWear logo

Venture capital was created to partner with pioneers who dream big and succeed in making a huge impact on humanity. Our partnership with Rajatesh, Saurabh and the team at GraphWear, who just announced their $20M Series B led by us, with participation from Mission BioCapital and Builders VC, is an iconic example of such an opportunity.

GraphWear can solve the Holy Grail problem of extracting data from blood without breaking the skin.

They do that by combining three innovations:

  1. Working with a breakthrough material – the Nobel Prize winning nanoscale material which is able to measure molecules in blood.
  2. Inventing a new kind of transistor – one with a transient base.
  3. Innovating on process – a ruggedized and scalable one that delivers a delightful, consumer-friendly form factor that can be worn.

Their platform’s first target is to monitor blood glucose, the accepted metric to manage diabetes, using a continuous glucose monitoring process (CGM) – which, along with medication, diet, and lifestyle changes, has been proven to be effective in lowering blood glucose levels. CGMs are reimbursable by insurance companies and today, industry stalwarts such as Abbott and Dexcom are valued at over $60 billion, but their minimally invasive CGMs are only used by about 3.5 million of the over 400 million diabetics worldwide. At the same time, devices such as the Apple Watch, which shines light on the skin to get health data, combined with access to the cloud, have seen massive consumer adoption and have consequently democratized our access to care.

By eliminating our fear of needles, GraphWear will transform how diabetics and pre-diabetics (which together represent about 150 million people or 45% of the US population and over 400 million globally) live. And with future targets of their breakthrough platform to other markers in our blood, GraphWear has the potential to save billions of lives.

We brought a prepared mind to this investment. Mayfield has a long history of partnering with pioneers, beginning with the team at Genentech in 1970, through Amgen, Intuitive Surgical, Heartstream and many others. Over the last five years, we have continued this tradition by nurturing scientists and technologist entrepreneurs into company builders. Some recent partnerships include Mammoth Biosciences which is leveraging CRISPR to build a diagnostic and therapeutic platform company; Nēsos, whose purpose-built earbuds retrain neural pathways to control inflammation, creating the new category of e-mmunotherapeutics; Endpoint Health which is pioneering precision immune therapeutics for critical diseases like Sepsis that kill more people than all cancers combined and Tonal, whose smart gym has reinvented strength training.

At the same time, as a people-first investor, we keep an open mind and are always looking for entrepreneurs who want to change the world. Rajatesh and Saurabh were motivated to focus on this problem through personal experience. They started working on the science as nanotech engineers in graduate school and spent 5+ years of R&D to develop the product and plan.  Their superpowers include an obsessive focus on details, an innovate-from-first-principles approach, a culture of measuring everything and iterating fast, and a commitment to capital efficiency. They have tested their value proposition in a clinical trial, and are now refining their product to begin the process of securing regulatory approval. Having helped many companies on the journey from inception to iconic – Lyft and Poshmark to name a couple of recent ones – we are excited to join GraphWear on their journey to save billions of lives.

Congratulations to Rajatesh, Saurabh, and the entire GraphWear team on their debut – honored to be partnered with you to deliver the holy grail.

Experience Marketing Platform Postal Raises $22M Series B

Mammoth Biosciences Achieves Unicorn Status with $195M Funding

Saving Billions of Lives with Next Generation CRISPR Company Mammoth

The relationship between Mayfield and Mammoth Biosciences began when Mayfield managing director Navin Chaddha met Mammoth co-founder and CEO Trevor Martin back in 2017. Trevor was a recent Stanford PhD graduate pursuing an unusual path: he planned to start a company focused not on his graduate thesis work, but on the newly-invented CRISPR diagnostic technology, licensed from the University of California at Berkeley. Mayfield partner Ursheet Parikh was investing in the next generation of bio-engineering platforms, opening the door to a whole new class of treatments and diagnostics, in contrast to traditional biotech investing, focused on individual treatment. Ursheet and Navin were very impressed with Trevor’s passion and entrepreneurial spirit. Mayfield invested in a seed round in a company that was then called Apheleia Diagnostics.

Ursheet drew upon Mayfield’s expertise in guiding scores of companies at the inception stage, including Poshmark, Outreach, and HashiCorp, and leaned in to help. As Trevor and Ursheet got to know each other in the following months, they discovered a shared passion for building a defined, extensible platform to power hundreds of new treatments and diagnostics. Trevor called it “Mammoth Inside,” drawing the analogy to “Intel Inside.” Building such a platform company would require Mammoth to involve the core inventors of CRISPR and the core of the CRISPR discovery engine that could power future innovation. To drive this effort, Ursheet connected with Dr. Jennifer Doudna — now the winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, for her development of the CRISPR method for genome editing, and whose lab at UC Berkeley is a hotbed of CRISPR innovation. She shared that her students, Janice Chen and Lucas Harrington – inventors of the CRISPR diagnostics technology as well as many novel CRISPR systems for diagnostics and therapeutics – were also interested in starting a company. Ursheet facilitated a set of conversations at the Mammoth office in Dogpatch, hosted the team at his home in SOMA, as well as at Stanley Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. Through these discussions, the group found a deeply shared common ground to use these new technologies to have a positive impact on patients’ lives, and the rest is history: Trevor, Janice, Lucas and Jennifer combined forces to co-found Mammoth Biosciences.

The core mission that drove this alignment was the intense desire to help patients as quickly as possible, from disease detection to treatment, spanning diagnostics and therapeutics. “Ursheet shared and encouraged our vision to build something foundational from a general healthcare perspective, that would have a lasting positive impact on the world across many fronts,” says Trevor. Mayfield led a $23 million Series A which several seed and angel investors joined, including Apple’s Tim Cook.

Trevor Martin, Jennifer Doudna, Janice Chen, Ursheet Parikh, Maneesh Jain and Lucas Harrington at dinner
Dinner post the Series A partnership presentation on March 31 2018; left to right, Trevor, Jennifer, Janice, Ursheet, Maneesh Jain (advisor & co-founder of Mayfield company Mirvie) and Lucas.

Ursheet recalls his early meetings with Trevor. The 27-year-old biologist had just finished his PhD and showed an immense capacity to learn business. “Trevor is exceptionally self-aware, asked for help frequently, came up with creative solutions and followed up fast. When introduced to the best in class cofounders, advisors, mentors and service providers, he would inspire them to get involved and was magnanimous in sharing the platform.”

“Since no one before them had built a CRISPR platform company with such a diverse toolkit of proteins and potential, they were going to have to grow up quickly to make it happen. A company cannot grow faster than its founders” says Ursheet of his work since then with Trevor, Janice, who is the CTO, and Lucas, who is CSO. Jennifer continues to remain involved as co-founder and chair of the company’s scientific advisory board. Trevor, Janice and Lucas knew that they wanted to build a new type of biotech company not wedded to the typical playbooks often used for single-asset companies. The underlying science was too closely wedded to the business opportunity for that. To help them transition from scientists into business people, Ursheet spent time with the team to talk about everything from product strategy and business development to building a world-class team. “Mayfield was definitely the most proactive in terms of making themselves available to help,” says Trevor.

“Getting a PhD is really relevant to starting a company, because it helps you deal with uncertainty,” says Trevor. “But you can’t just read a bunch of books to learn how to manage people.” To help, Mayfield connected Trevor, Janice, and Lucas to John Baird, a veteran executive coach whose clients included Steve Jobs. “Mayfield also helped recruit key executives such as COO Ted Tisch and CBO Peter Nell and this unique combination of scientist founders and experienced executives working closely together is what makes the Mammoth story possible,” Trevor adds. And Navin continues to be a sounding board for strategy and growth conversations.

The relationship has been fruitful. Mammoth has rapidly morphed from a research project in the lab into one of the most promising, closely-watched life sciences businesses in the world. The company, which recently crossed 100 employees, continues to pioneer CRISPR technology and stand at the forefront of delivering on the promise of CRISPR through its therapeutic and diagnostic programs.

When COVID hit, Ursheet was one of the first to urge Mammoth’s founders to focus on creating a test for the disease. The company has a strong culture of accountability, and the founders were concerned that doing this would require delaying the timeline on some other goals set by the company. Also, it was unclear how these new Covid-19 products could get approved in time to help. “I remember a long call on Sunday afternoon in February 2020 to prioritize Covid-19 over existing diagnostic programs and making the case that it was ok to take the leap with or without a clear approval path. If there was ever going to be a time when new bio-platforms will get to patients fast, it will be during a pandemic. One of the silver linings of Covid-19 now is that we will get the first MRNA and CRISPR products for patients years ahead of the original schedule and this will save innumerable lives,” says Ursheet.

Mammoth has been the most prolific inventor of new CRISPR systems that have significantly expanded the conditions that can be treated and diagnosed. To translate this into patient impact fast, Mammoth is both developing these treatments in-house and also working closely with other biotech companies. Mammoth has developed partnerships for novel CRISPR products with leading healthcare companies including Glaxo-Smith Kline, MilliporeSigma, Hamilton Company, and Agilent Technologies. The company was awarded two contracts from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop and commercialize CRISPR-based diagnostics and biosurveillance platforms for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Even before the pandemic began, Ursheet encouraged and helped the Mammoth team to forge partnerships to demonstrate its leadership of a vast new ecosystem. In January, 2020, for example, Mammoth inked a deal with Horizon Discovery, a U.K.-based developer of biomanufacturing technologies that drug-makers can use to manufacture new treatments.

That would be more than enough of a contribution for any start-up. For Mammoth, it’s just the beginning. Beyond healthcare, Mammoth has the potential to power the next generation of companies working on improving the health of our planet with better foods. “I feel inspired and blessed to be supporting the mission of the stellar team at Mammoth,” says Ursheet.

Says Trevor: “It’s super valuable to have investors who suggest bold bets themselves and commit to supporting them.”