A Tale of Three Start-ups

Actually it was three stories of three semi-conductor start-ups being told at the Cadence VC Forum. The third annual occurrence of this event was held at the Institute of Physics in London.

Jed Hurwitz, CTO of Gigle Semiconductor spoke of how you had to be ‘Just Mad Enough’ – too much and no-one takes you seriously, too little and no-one wants to invest in you. I particularly enjoyed hearing about how he was able to take his experience in one field (video and imaging) and use it to great benefit in another area- home networking. Gigle have just successfully launched a Gigabit powerline modem in June 2009, and Jed spoke about the path that led them there, including advice for up and coming start-ups. He reminded all when coming up with their product ideas to ask themselves ‘Could someone else do it?’ – he answered this well saying yes anybody could do it, but ‘Can someone do it?’ is a different matter. No-one else may be in the right position today to do what you can.

Next we had ‘The Challenges of a 21st Century Start-up’ presented by Mirics Semiconductor’s CEO Simon Atkinson. He talked about Mirics road to success and the course corrections that they had to go through to ultimately be successful. Today Mirics have the only demodulator that covers all the worlds standards for broadcast TV – they do this with a combination of dedicated hardware and software running on the main PC or laptop CPU. Also interesting was hearing about the hardware acceleration for the next generation by using the GPU. Afterwards we chatted to Simon and discussed power utilization due to using non-dedicated hardware. While the power consumption is higher with the general purpose CPU approach, it is nearly as low as dedicated hardware (only a couple of minutes less TV watching). However, more importantly, the power consumption fits within the threshold that a consumer is happy with.

The last start-up story was about Phyworks – their CEO Stephen King talked about the ups and downs of the company. Going through many iterations and lots of fund-raising in difficult years, they also eventually found their way. Stephen King also shared his dos and don’ts of which the most memorable was his sentiment of ‘pushing people’ to get the most out of them, whether it was employees, partners or customers!

It was a well organized event, in a great location. The food on offer this time was a huge improvement over last year. The only downside was that the talks did all overrun which resulted in a very long intense session, and less time for talking over dinner afterwards. All in all well worthwhile and looking forward to next year’s event!

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