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EDA start-ups need good ideas, quick ramp up

Posted: 17 Jun 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:design automation conference? eda?

When is a good time to launch an EDA start-up?

According to experts at the Design Automation Conference here, the right time is whenever a new idea emerges. Two "serial entrepreneurs" and an executive who started his enterprising group within Mentor Graphics agreed that innovation can work both in start-ups and in large companies.

"The EDA industry lives and dies on innovation," said Simon Davidmann, a technology entrepreneur who in the last 15 years has been involved with 5 U.S.-based EDA start-ups that have all been acquired. "You can develop an innovative idea within a large corporation if it is being allowed to be nurtured or taken outside as a start-up."

Among Davidmann's start-ups were Ambit Design, Chronologic Simulation and Gateway Design Automation.

His most recent success was Co-Design Automation Inc., which he co-founded in 1998 and sold to Synopsys for $36 million in 2002. He is Currently president and CEO of Imperas, Inc., which seeks to provide a development environment for multiple processor systems on chips.

"It's a challenge in both types of companies," said Keith Mueller, another entrepreneur. "It depends on your personality and experience of whether you can do it on your own or try to innovate within large company." Mueller is currently vice president of worldwide sales at Apache Design Solutions. He helped launch Silicon Perspective, Anagram, Quickturn Design Systems and Silicon Compiler.

"If you are passionate about developing new technology, you can do so inside a large firm or as a start-up," added Joseph Sawicki, who headed internal development of Catapult at Mentor Graphics. Now vice president and general manager of Mentor's Design to Silicon division, Sawicki said he was fortunate that the company's culture included "a high tolerance for rebellion." "We have a less than 7 percent turnover in our group for the last four years.

Mentor's Sawicki said the complaint that his company maintains its various groups in silos actually works to the company's benefit. "Mentor groups nurture projects that corporate might not even know about. This gives us the flexibility and adaptibility to react quickly and get the product out the door fast."

All agreed that a start-up needs to go from an idea to product sales in four years, with two to develop the idea and two to produce a meaningful product. "Otherwise competitors will eat your lunch, or the large companies will 'get it' and come up with their own EDA solution", said panel moderator James Hogan, general partner at investment firm Telos.

- Nicolas Mokhoff

EE Times

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