Ubiquisys: big exit for wireless firm
"The co-founders all came from a large company background, so one of the biggest worries for our investors was the transition from a big corporate to being self-sufficient entrepreneurs and our openness building the right management team. We had to prove we could make this change, and SETsquared helped us position ourselves successfully to achieve it."
Pete Keevil, Founder and VP Engineering
- Start date: 2004
- Website: www.ubiquisys.com
- Market sector: telecoms
- Location: Bath
- Investment raised: $86m
- Number of employees: 150 (before acquisition)
- investor readiness
Ubiquisys is a developer of 'small cells': devices that help mobile operators to increase capacity and provide high quality coverage in their wireless networks.
What was the vision for the company and what problem were you aiming to solve?
"The co-founders saw a gap in the market for something the size of a Wi-Fi access point that could do 3G cellular. Operators at the time were struggling to provide coverage, and we thought if we could make a simple-to-use wireless access point, there would be a valid business case."
September 2005: Seed funding $2.5m
September 2006: Series A funding $12m
July 2010: raised $9m funding
August 2012: raised $19m investment
September 2012: ranked 12th in Sunday Times Tech Track 100
May 2013: acquired by Cisco Systems for $310m
"Co-founder Will Franks and I were already mentors for SETsquared when we took voluntary redundancy from our employer. We were looking for avenues to use our skills and get involved in new companies starting up, and working with SETsquared seemed to be a good way to join those things together."
"When we subsequently founded Ubiquisys, the key value that SETsquared gave us at the beginning was an office space in the Swindon Innovation Centre. As the company started to grow, it was increasingly important to move into an office and a working mode."
"The Innovation Centre gave us a cost-effective place to meet investors and potential recruits. It was a supportive environment, with people around us who were also in start-ups. We could give each other moral support and sometimes practical assistance: getting off the ground is a tough process, and an incubator environment means you help each other to surmount the various problems that come your way."
"One of the reasons we got funded and others didn't was that we had a big idea for an end to end system. We defined how the whole ecosystem worked but we specialised in one part of it, while building partnerships for the rest. This meant that our ecosystem had more money being spent than we could invest ourselves."
"SETsquared introduced us to some potential investors, and some of the people they put us in touch with for due diligence were interesting and helpful. We also went to some SETsquared networking events, which were well-attended."
"To help us get ready for pitching to investors, there were some discussions and preparations with SETsquared. Having someone to cross check and make sure you've ticked all the boxes is helpful, and SETsquared provided a good environment for the process."
"Simon Bond was positive, supportive and endlessly practical. He was helpful, and always went out of his way to assist us. As well as Simon, there was a diverse and interesting bunch of people around, with a lot of experience, which meant that SETsquared was good as a networking forum."
"SETsquared was a positive place to get started and a good place to go for support. To be treated supportively made a difference, and helped us to persevere through what is inevitably a tough emotional process. Just having someone around to complain to or celebrate success was good."
"Our acquisition by Cisco has gone smoothly, and there's a good cultural and strategic alignment. The field is open now: in many ways we think and function in exactly the same way we did before, but now with Cisco's huge capacity to get things done and with the backing of a $50 billion corporate."