From a management viewpoint, one of the biggest dilemmas of startup technology-based companies, which are relatively small and with limited resources, is how to get their names spread throughout the electronics community. Especially in the case of semiconductor startups with limited budgets, to do so sometimes requires guerrilla tactics. But one of the pitfalls for engineers who start up a company is the notion that if they build a better mousetrap, the world will come and beat down their door to buy their product or service. That may be the case for Internet companies today, but it's not true for most IP and IP-related semiconductor companies.
Every design house can buy the EDA tools, hardware, and software it needs to operate, but its success depends on its engineers' brainpower, company process and culture, and the CEO's abilities. In small IP and design service companies in particular, the CEO takes center stage.
The classic design house CEO is an engineer who either has a vision or just wants to run his own show. His leadership expertise probably includes strong engineering project management, but not likely skills in business-related tasks. He works in a regional or a national environment in which proximity to the customer offers inherent benefits. The CEO of a classic third-party IP provider, on the other hand, may also be an engineer, but most likely exhibits a much better mix of business and engineering skills. He must oversee a product that the company will resell to many customers from all over the world.
Companies operating only in the American market or in a limited number of global markets understandably worry about entering a new foreign market. Risks are many. Opportunities for problems are enormous. There is also the additional risk of taking your eye off your core business and revenue stream. What should a company planning to enter a foreign market do in order to protect itself from failure and improve its chances for success? It can create an eight-step plan that includes:
The current innovation climate in the semiconductor industry is alive and well, but entrepreneurs have to adjust to the realities of the current economic situation and investment trends. The world's governmental economic development agencies have always looked at Silicon Valley with envy and paid big money to try to find the key which would unlock the secrets enabling their countries and regions to replicate the creativity machines which thrive in skill centers dispersed in North America (e.g., San Francisco Bay area, Austin, Boston and Toronto).