"Zeevo: A Startup's journey" by Vikram Gupta
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"Zeevo: A Startup's journey" by Vikram Gupta



Vikram Gupta (Founder, Zeevo) takes us through a journey of ups and downs of his startup.

Vikram Gupta (Founder, Zeevo) takes us through a journey of ups and downs of his startup.



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  • Very good writeup Vikram. I should comment on the markets we went after - this was a bit of a chicken and egg problem. We were way too expensive for the cell phone market...but I don't think we realized this when fundamental architecture decisions were made (ARM core, LTCC package, etc)...so we had to look for markets where we were a fit (Stereo headset). Certainly there were lively discussions about how to change the next generation part to fit higher volume markets, but by that point it was too late...we were too far down the path.

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"Zeevo: A Startup's journey" by Vikram Gupta "Zeevo: A Startup's journey" by Vikram Gupta Presentation Transcript

  • Zeevo – Looking back
  • Agenda
    • The Company -- History, timeline and some key notes
    • Market assessment and other companies
    • Perspective – looking back
    • Take-aways
  • The Idea
    • Founded in Sep 1999
    • Vision was to drive the cost down of wireless chip by doing SOC’s with radios in CMOS technology
    • The first market: Bluetooth
      • Short range wireless standard
    • Value proposition was a single chip Bluetooth solution with
      • Embedded processor and associated SOC
      • Bluetooth link layer
      • Bluetooth radio
      • Lower layer BT software stack
    • The founding team comprised of four people with the following background:
      • 1 Marketing
      • 1 Systems
      • 1 RF IC
      • 1 Digital
  • Rounds of Funding
    • 5 rounds of funding
      • Series A: Sequoia Capital -- 1999
      • Series B: Raza Ventures -- 2000
      • Series C: Dell Ventures -- 2001  Highest
      • Series D: WK Tech -- 2002
      • Series E: Winbond Electronics -- 2004
    • Total raised $85 million
    • Acquired by Broadcom: $32 million -- 2005
  • Notable milestones and stats
    • Key Milestones
      • First Employee: Oct 99
      • First Tapeout: Nov 99
      • “ Peak sentiment”: Mar 01 (see next slide)
      • Sampled to customers: Apr 01
      • Shipped millionth chip: Nov 03
      • Exit – Mar 05
    • Misc
      • Number of employees at peak: 90
      • Key Customer: HP
      • Names: 3
      • Number of layoffs: 3
      • Number of building moves: 3
      • Number of CEO’s: 3
  • The peak
    • Mar 2001
    • Solution was about to sample to customers – everyone was optimistic
    • Highest number of employees
    • Coming out party
  • The Nadir
    • Sep 04
    • Burn rate was still going to be greater than profits
      • Another RIF was coming
      • Another round of funding looked necessary
    • Lot of team members had been with the company for about 4-5 years and were getting tired
    • Investment banking firm was hired soon after
  • Investment Bankers
    • Help companies decide on strategy involving
      • Mergers and Acquisitions
      • Capital financing
    • For startups
      • Generally means  help us get acquired
    • SVB Alliant was the investment banker hired by Zeevo
  • The Acquisition Process
    • Initially
      • Lots of preparation
        • Slides, demos, individual meetings
      • Different suitors want different things
      • Exciting
        • Since change is imminent (one way or the other)
    • Once a deal is in the works, more activity
      • Reviewing all contracts
      • Deeper dive into the technology
      • Employment offers
      • Incentive packages (if applicable)
    • Not an easy process – lots of hard work and tension
  • Post-Acquisition
    • Things don’t stop
    • Have to deal with
      • New environment
      • New culture
      • New Chiefs
      • Possibly new direction
      • Possibly new technology
    • Establish credibility all over again
    • Got to prove the acquisition out…
  • How did the market do
  • How did other companies do
    • Bigger companies
      • Ericsson – exited the market
      • Intel – exited the market
      • TI – in play
      • Infineon – in play
  • Few things that went wrong
    • Development
      • Too much risk in too many areas
      • Too conservative in some others
      • Stumbled in a few places
    • Marketing
      • Not very targeted
      • Never went after the highest volume market – Cell phones
        • Ultimately targeted a niche segment (stereo headphones) in a huge market that never took off
      • Did not effectively identify real opportunities from the noise
    • Under-estimated the competition
    • Did not leverage or outsource well
  • More..
    • Operations
      • Could never get the cost under control until it was too late
    • Management
      • Was inexperienced in certain areas
      • Did not curtail spending in the early days
        • Including hiring
      • Did not make hard decisions quickly enough
    • People
      • Some were not startup material
    • Communication
      • Did not have a very good meeting culture
      • We always gave the good news or put it in good light
  • What did we do well
    • Good architecture
      • Good technical team
      • Came up with creative solutions
    • As a small company, we were able to keep up with BT spec changes
    • Hired people with diverse skill-sets to create a company identity
      • RF, Digital, Firmware, Application, Packaging
    • Generally good work atmosphere
      • Excellent retention rate
      • We had fun
    • Attempted to communicate a lot
    • When things did not go well, team showed resilience
  • Personal Learning's
    • Strong experience in the overall process to deliver wireless systems
      • Exposed to a broad swathe of technical and business issues
    • Appreciation and understanding of the application of technology in the context of the customer
    • Took the opportunity to participate in Marketing and Operations roles
    • Learned about the
      • Workings of a company, people-issues, governing influences, self
  • Parting shots
    • Don’t get carried away by technology
      • Its about the return to the investors
    • Not every problem has a technological solution
    • Don’t take more risk than you should
      • Keep things simple
    • Standards always take longer to get adopted than projected
  • Parting shots (Cont.)…
    • Experience counts – listen to the experts
    • Take one step back to take two forward
    • If it seems wrong, it is! No one knows any better
      • Speak your mind
    • Align with other founders and the investors OR don’t
    • Spend the money as if it were your own
    • Put the right folks in the right places and get the wrong ones out – ASAP!
    • Enjoy the ride – don’t misplace priorities AND keep the pace going
  • Summary
    • Doing your own venture is a great opportunity and experience
      • The journey is eventful and the outcome could be fabulous