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 - 2012 - issue > In My Opinion

Advice from a Serial EDA Entrepreneur: Find a Need and Fulfill It

Rajeev Madhavan
Chairman and CEO-Magma Design Automation, Inc.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Rajeev Madhavan
I grew up in Southern India in a very traditional family. My father worked for the Indian Revenue Service and my mother was a home maker. I was an average student, spending more time on cricket than any academic pursuit. I went to college and earned a B.S. in electronics and communication from KREC (Karnataka Regional Engineering College) in Surathkal.

My first business was driven by me and my friends’ love for comic books. I recognized a market demand and devised a way to meet it. I started renting my comic books to other kids on the bus and used the money I earned to buy new ones. I even worked out a partnership with a bigger, stronger kid to help me collect the fees. When my teachers learned about this venture, I was suspended from the school bus. That experience and the conservative Kerala culture at that time did not encourage in me an interest in entrepreneurship. But then I went on to graduate school at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, earning an M.S.E.E. While completing my thesis, I went to work for BNR (Bell North Research), the research arm of Nortel in Ottawa, where I had the opportunity to create some CAD software applications to help complete chip designs I was involved with. Despite no traditional background in electronic design automation (EDA) or computer science, while working at BNR, I ended up developing a lot of EDA tools. By 1991, I was working at Cadence Design Systems in San Jose as a BNR engineer involved in a long-term partnership between the two companies called the Analog Alliance.

The Vice President for business development at Cadence gave me several start-ups’ business plans to look over and evaluate. By showing me those business plans, he helped me understand the venture capital business and how ideas are funded. It was eye-opening to me to learn that you could earn a salary while working at a start-up and that you didn’t have to be self-supporting.

After reading a few business plans, I decided I wanted to build a start up. While I was at Cadence, I was consulted on licensing BNR’s BIST software since I had worked on it. With that background, it was natural for me to help found LogicVision, a provider of embedded test, BIST and automatic test pattern (ATPG) tools. The technology was innovative, but it was a challenge to calculate and then prove the value of our solution to our customers.

At LogicVision, I had an opportunity to integrate LogicVision BIST into Synopsys tools. Having worked on synthesis at BNR, I felt there was room for another synthesis player to compete directly against Synopsys. So, I left LogicVision and founded Ambit Design Systems in 1994. It was the first synthesis solution to successfully challenge Synopsys and it was acquired by Cadence in 1998.

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