On-Ramp Wireless, Learning From the Past, Says Its System Is Ready

3/28/12Follow @bvbigelow

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Who’s Who of venture capital: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Merrill Lynch Capital Partners, Earlybird Venture Capital, SI Ventures, and Shell Internet Ventures, and In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm backed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Corporate investors included Qualcomm Ventures, Motorola Ventures, Global Crossing Ventures, Siemens Venture Capital, and Sun Microsystems.

“They had a very good vision,” says Silva, who was working as an investment banker with Montgomery & Co. when graviton closed its doors.

The $37 million that On-Ramp has raised so far represents a comparable stake for a startup with similar goals. The investors include Beverly Hills, CA-based Third Wave Ventures, some prominent angel investors (including Qualcomm co-founder Andrew Viterbi), and Gemtek, a Taiwanese radio module maker and strategic partner.

Yet Silva says, “We’ve been far more disciplined about how we’ve spent our money. We’ve done our own chips, we’ve done our own networks, production hardware, software, and we have revenues. I think graviton did a lot of things right. But the timing was early and I don’t think they had the right structure for solving the problem that really mattered.”

To Silva, the problem that really mattered is the wireless link. He contends that On-Ramp has changed the way spread spectrum technology is implemented for low data and low power networks in the same way that Qualcomm figured out how to implement spread spectrum and CDMA technology.

The background of graviton’s founders also was more focused around sensors and automation, Silva says. On-Ramp’s founders are innovators with experience at companies like Qualcomm, NextWave, Motorola, Freescale—”with tried and true wireless core and wireless systems expertise.”

Nearly a decade after graviton, Silva acknowledges that On-Ramp also has benefitted from a broad advance in supporting technology.

“Sensors have matured,” Silva says. “The Internet has given us all this commoditized connectivity and hosting structure. So what we do is we solve that link in the middle—getting to that device, that sensor data—and we take advantage of all the technology, all the back office work, and all the silicon the industry has done” over the past 10 years.

In other words, Silva says On-Ramp wireless embodies an idea whose time has come.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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