“SETsquared helped us a great deal to get funding, including question and answer sessions before I started presenting to investors, which helped me to improve my pitch. Working with SETsquared accelerated the whole process, and without them it would have taken longer to secure investment.”
Dr Ebrahim Bushehri, CEO, Lime Microsystems
- Start date: 2005
- Web: www.limemicro.com
- Market sector: Semiconductors
- Location: Surrey
- No. of employees: 20
Lime Microsystems is a semiconductor company that has developed a new, field programmable RF technology for mobile communications. Its products are used for the next generation of wireless broadband systems. Lime’s technology has been adopted by organisations around the world for consumer, military and emergency services applications. It has the potential to bring mobile communications to isolated communities in developing nations.
What was the vision for the company and what problem were you aiming to solve?
“In my previous company, we were doing a lot of work around wireless infrastructure and designing chips for large installations. We realised that as we went to the 3G standard, and then 4G, operators would need smaller base stations, that could be flexible enough to work with the evolving standards and many variants used around the world, so we decided to set up Lime Microsystems and build a product around this idea.
We were able to come up with a cost-effective and highly integrated solution that was optimised for shrinking base stations. This is proving to be useful in a wide range of applications.”
- January 2006: investment round from ACT Venture Capital and DFJ Esprit
- April 2008: first transceiver integrated circuit created
- February 2009: first product commercially available
- December 2011: 100th customer secured
“We came along to the Surrey Research Park within a couple of weeks of setting up Lime, and the services were appealing so we decided to join SETsquared at that point.”
“There are different levels of support provided by SETsquared. When we set up in business what I was looking for was an environment where there were like-minded people and other technology companies around. I found the atmosphere within SETsquared enabled me to discuss our plans with others and get feedback, which was valuable – SETsquared is good at establishing that kind of environment.”
“At the other end of the scale were basic facilities: desks, phones, and a professional office space, at a low cost, that enabled us to get things done. Being able to have a base, a business address and colleagues around, as well as people who could help us, meant a lot.”
“To build a successful semiconductor business you need a lot of money, which typically means institutional funding. One of our key successes was to get VC investment into the company fairly quickly after we started, and by January 2006 we had enough funding to create our first product.”
“Attracting that first money was our biggest challenge, as we didn’t have proven technology at that point. Luckily we had sophisticated investors on board who had handled other semiconductor investments before, and they could evaluate our technology, our team and our ability to deliver.”
“SETsquared provided useful feedback around pitching for investment. At some points I had weekly meetings with them, discussing exactly what sort of investors we should target, going through our presentation and getting feedback, and looking at example proposals from others with similar ideas.”
“The SETsquared people had the in-depth experience to help us with our ideas. They also had the knowledge to put us in touch with relevant grants: for example, to help us to get funding from UKTI to attend industry events such as Mobile World Congress.”
“Sarah De’Lacy at SETsquared was able to bring on board mentors that were very helpful. Some had quite an in-depth semiconductor knowledge – Sarah was able to connect us to the key people we needed to talk to for advice, and to help us present our ideas.”
“SETsquared’s events were another key value. We attended various sessions, and it was very useful to us to present to groups of people and to go through a competition phase of presenting our ideas. I would give a presentation at SETsquared, then within the same week would go out and speak to the VC community. That practice made talking through our ideas almost second nature.”
“Success of a semiconductor company such as ours relies on mass production. We’ve successfully done that by signing up more than 200 customers so far around the world, and we aim to provide our current platform to many more users beyond this.
One project we launched recently called MyriadRF, we wanted to get as many people as possible working with RF equipment to further innovation so we created a non-profit initiative to deliver low cost boards built using our chip. This is beginning to take off.”