Viewpoint / Enterprise

Working with Mayfield: Trust, Radical Candor, and a Gentle Guiding Hand

Seshu Madhavapeddy and Surya P. Ganti, the co-founders of Frore Systems, joked that their lead investor was ready to lock them in a conference room until they came up with a plan to solve a thorny problem. The two had spent three years on a new kind of chip that could cool the inside of a computer. But their own chip was generating too much heat. They told themselves they had the problem licked—until a visit to see Navin Chaddha at his Mayfield office early in 2022.

“Navin was brutally honest in his feedback,” Madhavapeddy says. “He made clear that until we got a hold of the power we were consuming, it’s unlikely that we will achieve the level of success we desire.”

Chaddha’s pushback was emblematic of a series of contributions that have shaped the company, Madhavapeddy says. From the start, Chaddha had made it clear that Frore would need more upfront cash given the size of its ambitions—and was willing to provide it. Mayfield led Frore’s $10 million seed round. Chaddha also stressed that Frore needed to be thinking of a variety of potential market segments, in case it hit a wall in any one sector. And critically, he pushed the founders to rethink their initial target market. Going after laptops first would be a surer bet than focusing on smartphones, the founders’ original idea.

Any smartphone maker is producing units in the tens of millions. “Baby steps,” Chaddha counseled. “You have to crawl, walk, and run before you can fly.”

But Madhavapeddy and Ganti both say Chaddha’s greatest contribution may have been the trust he showed in them. “We had this dream. We were committed and had the experience to potentially solve the problem,” Madhavapeddy says. “It required a seed investor like Mayfield to take off.”

Learn more about Frore’s journey >>

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