The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

May - 2012 - issue > Cover Story

The Midas of Mayfield

SI Team
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
SI Team
Navin Chaddha is Managing Director at Mayfield Fund, a 43 year old venture capital firm with $2.8 billion under management in the U.S. and $111 million under management in India. This man with the Midas touch has invested in over 35 companies in the past of which 11 have had IPOs and 9 have been acquired. Some of these companies have become industry leaders in their categories, viz. Akamai in content delivery networks, Suzlon in wind energy, Tejas Networks in optical networking, Mimosa Systems in e-mail archiving, Makemytrip in Indian internet travel, Persistent Systems in offshore product development services, Gigya in portable and social web infrastructure, and Bharat Matrimony in Indian internet matrimonial listings.

For all of his investments, he has looked for one chief characteristic: the team. "It’s the team first and foremost for me," says the venture capitalist, who invests in both early and growth stage opportunities in a variety of sectors including: energytech, internet, enterprise, technology enabled services and telecom in both U.S. and India.

He has an uncanny eye for understanding the pulse of an entrepreneur and his idea. No wonder, Chaddha, has a rather unique take on start-ups. The venture capitalist says that "start-ups don't die of starvation, they die of indigestion." As you speak to him, you realize that the man has a special love for analogies.

Chaddha looks for nimbleness and agility in entrepreneurs. "Dinosaurs never survive," he says.

"Entrepreneurs must continuously adapt and learn, rather than being inflexible about their ideas." He also checks whether the entrepreneur has the ability to run a marathon, or is a sprinter. This is important, he says, for building a company that one starts as it might take two to three times longer than what is planned. Will the entrepreneur be able to hold his nerve and be at it till then? "I have a very simple calculation: whatever an entrepreneur quotes as the estimated time for building a product, I multiply it by two," he says jokingly.

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