This is the second part of an interview with Dermott Lynch, VP of Sales and Marketing for Silicon Frontline. The first part
of the interview can be found here.
The discussion is about Bumps in the Road associated with the creation of new products or companies. His first conclusion is that you must understand your market and the key differentiations. The second key takeaway is that you have to understand the dynamics of the market and what is changing that may affect you.
Around 1995, 96 Dermott joined Senté who were involved with RTL power analysis. Their proposition was that you just finished a chip and let’s say the power consumed was 5 Watts. If even before synthesized you knew that block A would consume 1W, block B 2W, the memory would eat 1/2W etc. how would you do anything different? At that point most companies would just look at Dermott and say they didn’t know what they would do. Editor’s note – today they would demand that and so much more as typified by the power series that I have just concluded. Senté was too early to market.
Dermott says again they had great technology, but they were ahead of the market. They eventually emerged with Sequence that got bought by Apache that got bought by Ansys.Key takeaway: good technology does not always make a good product. The market must need the technology.
Quad design was a company involved with signal integrity and timing. They had a client that was doing a super computer design. Quad developed a tool call Motive which became the industry standard for timing analysis. If you wanted to do an LSI ASIC at that time, you had to sign it off using Motive. This was an example of coming out with a product at just the right time. Designs were big enough and timing problems were a significant issue. They listened very well to their customers and had good technology. One of the biggest needs for a startup is to really support your customers. Make them successful. Your success is tied to your customer’s success. It is difficult enough to get into an account, but once you are in, you need to work on how to extract the maximum number of $$ from them. If you mess up, you typically don’t get a second chance.
Quad design is a good example of a startup that managed to get their first tool out – Motive – and make a success of it. Then they had the opportunity to go on and do a second tool for signal integrity analysis –XTk. In about 1993 the IBIS committee formed and XTk drove much of their work.
For a startup to be successful with one tool is a huge success. To manage to do it with two tools is a very rare feat. Quad Design was acquired by Viewlogic.
Nassda was formed in 1998 and is an example of a company that managed to go public on one product – Hsim. They remained very focused on that one product. They did create a number of options that hung off the main product, but the core really was most of the business. By the time they were acquired by Synopsys in 2005 they were doing $50-$60M.Key takeaway: Success comes from listening to your customers. 80% of your business will probably come from 20% of your customers. Make sure you grow with them and make them happy. Listen to them, listen to them and listen to them.
In the next segment of the interview we will be looking at creating the team.
If you have experiences that you observed or lessons that you learned working for a startup, I would love to hear from you.
Dermott Lynch is currently the VP of Sales and Marketing at Silicon Frontline, a startup with about 15 people. Silicon Frontline has tools that perform fast parasitic extraction and analysis for post layout verification, with a leaning towards power devices. Prior to that he has held positions with Infinisim, Nassda, Sente, Viewlogic and Quad Designs. He holds a BE and MSc from University College Dublin.Brian Bailey
– keeping you covered
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