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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

February - 2008 - issue > Company Spotlight

The hybrid play: Enabling next-gen designs

Aritra Bhattacharya
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Aritra Bhattacharya
The closest an engineer in India could think of in terms of working in a product company is to join an outsourced product development (OPD) firm or the development center of an MNC. There too, he’d be given the ownership of only a part of the product development process, and rarely have a chance to know about the marketing and strategy building functions.

But if Dr. Ravi Pai, Chairman and Managing Director of SoftJin Technologies, is to be believed there already exists an exciting opportunity for engineers of the breed mentioned above. SoftJin is a unique homegrown company in the semiconductor domain that has a hybrid business model, a rather uncommon occurrence in the services oriented Indian industry. The company started by providing high end Electronic Design Automation (EDA) R&D services to the semiconductor industry in the U.S. and Japan. Based on the expertise gathered in these services engagements, it then ventured into the products arena led by its Bangalore based internal R&D in specific domains within the EDA.

Forked focus
But, how practical is it to have a products focus in the semiconductor domain in India, where the ecosystem hardly exists? Nachiket Urdhwareshe, CEO of SoftJin, is quick to respond. “That’s precisely the reason why the hybrid model makes sense to us,” he says. In places like the U.S., owing to close proximity of customers, there is a lot of industry oriented research carried out in universities and it is much easier to start a product from the very first day. But in India, services business can be the ideation engine for the products’ entry. SoftJin’s experience in the services domain helped it understand the market potential along with customer needs and pain points, while also providing it with necessary competencies and capabilities in the EDA domain. “The services business also provides cash reserves which are critical investments during the early stages of the product development,” adds Urdhwareshe. The hybrid play also equips SoftJin with an initial customer base to test the products they develop.

Also, the custom solutions space within the EDA vertical is largely untapped. Pai notes that at present most of the customization is done by the customers in-house, as major EDA players do not offer customization services. He reckons that within the $4 billion EDA products market, the custom solutions market alone is worth $500 million. “That’s the niche we’re looking to target at,” he notes.

Growth areas

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