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November 14, 2004

Heralding "global-from-day-one" start-ups

As I was going through the program agenda of Ernst & Young's Israel-India-China Global Hotbed Cross-Border Company Showcase event (at the San Mateo Marriott on November 4, 2004), I was intrigued to see a "Sandeep Kumar" listed as the presenter for an Israeli multimedia semiconductor company called Adimos. Must be a misprint, I thought. And marked Adimos as an "Indian company" whose presentation I needed to attend.

As I learnt later from Kumar's confident presentation to the gathering of VCs, investment bankers and fellow entrepreneurs (most of whom had traveled from the three "hotbed" countries to pitch for their companies' next round of funding) and a visit to the Adimos web site, the company is located in Los Altos, CA (USA) "with research and development facilities in Israel and a growing presence in Japan". Adimos' chips help electronic devices transmit multimedia content wirelessly within the home (like video from a DVD Player to a TV located in another room).

Here, according to an article in Forbes magazine titled "The Global Startup" (issue dated Nov. 29, 2004), is how Adimos was born, landed Kumar as its CEO, and is leveraging Keiretsu (in Japan!) for its business development:

During a partner meeting early last year Hiroshi Ikegaya, JVP's partner in Japan, alerted his colleagues to a hankering by Asian consumer electronics firms for a chip that could transmit video wirelessly within the home. One of Ikegaya's partners knew some engineers in the Israeli military who were using such a technology. (JVP founder Erel Margalit) recruited an Indian executive from Texas Instruments to run the operation out of Los Altos, Calif. Along with Benchmark Capital, Gemini Israeli Venture Funds and Genesis Campus, JVP invested $12 million in the new company, dubbed Adimos, in July 2003.

Since then Ikegaya introduced Adimos' chief executive, Sandeep Kumar, to Mitsui & Co., a giant Japanese distributor that also invests in JVP's funds. Kumar also called a contact at Toshiba Corp. Now Adimos is working with Toshiba and Mitsui to develop a wireless videochip that will suit their needs. The chip will be embedded in TVs to receive music, pictures and movies from PCs, set-top boxes and the Internet.

Kumar, an IIT-Delhi (1984) and University of Cincinnati alumnus, worked for 16 years with Texas Instruments during which he established TI's operations in Israel.

Going by the indications at the E&Y event - organized in conjunction with Silicon Valley Bank (which itself opened an office in Bangalore recently) - and the Forbes article, we are set to witness the springing up of more and more "global-from-day-one" start-ups like Adimos. And venture capital investors that continue to sing the "we do not invest in companies that are more than half-an-hour drive away" tune, will begin losing out to their competitors who do not think twice about flying to meet companies located half-a-world away.