A leading Indian fabless startup, which recently progressed its first chip to the prototype production stage at the foundry, plans to distinguish itself by targeting the mid-range market segment.
In a recent interview with Digitimes Asia, Shashwath T R and Sharan Jagathrakshakan, co-founders of Mindgrove Technologies, mentioned that they benchmark themselves against companies like Texas Instruments, NXP Semiconductors, and Renesas in terms of quality.
"What sets us apart is our ability to offer approximately 60% to 70% of the features provided by these companies, but at a 30% to 40% lower cost," stated Shashwath, also the CEO. "We've noticed a market trend where the embedded/edge market is divided into high-end players like TI and a low-end market that prioritizes cost and volume over features, often dominated by Chinese chips, especially in regions like India."
The definition of embedded use cases is evolving, with a growing shift towards battery-based applications, creating a new market segment Mindgrove is targeting.
"Our strategy isn't to pursue the most advanced technology or highest performance. Instead, we focus on 'right-sizing' – offering flexibility, adaptability, cost efficiency, trusted security, and robust support," Shashwath elaborated. "This is embodied in our 'facts' design philosophy. For example, we adapt to customer needs, offering modifications such as reducing memory from 8 MB to 1 MB to cut costs for large-scale operations. We also prioritize strong customer relationships by providing support in local languages, enhancing communication and efficiency."
Mindgrove's inaugural chip, SecureIoT, has successfully reached the prototype production stage at the foundry. Designed alongside other chips in a multi-project wafer (MPW), Mindgrove anticipates receiving 100 chips from this initial run.
"However, it's important to note that while the foundry's strict standards for MPW design acceptance imply a high success probability, there's a potential for challenges like bugs or compromised features in this prototype batch," Jagathrakshakan explained. "Based on the results, we'll focus on identifying and resolving emerging issues in the final silicon. It's also worth mentioning that certain parameters, like power consumption, can only be conclusively determined after characterizing the completed silicon."
Expanding beyond the local market
While Mindgrove currently focuses on the Indian market, its ambitions extend beyond this region. They are actively exploring opportunities in the Eurozone and North America.
"Our main market is India, but we're not confined to it. We're seeking opportunities in the Eurozone and North America," Jagathrakshakan added. "Our immediate goal is to establish a strong presence in India, where face-to-face interactions with customers help build trust and a deeper understanding of their needs. We plan to expand into European, North American, and Southeast Asian markets."
Funding and incubation
Mindgrove secured seed funding in November 2021, led by Sequoia Capital, now known as PeakXV Partners. The year-long journey to obtain this crucial funding reflects the startup's innovative domain and the need for backers skilled in deep tech investments.
The ITM Pravartak Technologies Foundation, acting as the company's incubator, provided essential tools and intellectual property, adopting a royalty-based model post-production. In addition, government support in strengthening India's semiconductor ecosystem significantly helped attract investor interest in the startup.
Mindgrove Technologies, an Indian fabless startup, is making strides in the semiconductor industry by balancing cost-efficiency with significant feature offerings. Their strategy of 'right-sizing' technology positions them uniquely in the mid-range market.
With their first chip prototype, SecureIoT, in production, Mindgrove is not just focusing on the Indian market but also eyeing expansion into international territories, including the Eurozone and North America.
The company's journey, supported by funding from PeakXV Partners and others and incubation from the ITM Pravartak Technologies Foundation, highlights the evolving landscape of India's tech sector and its growing influence in the global semiconductor industry.