By Anthony Clark Saturday, September 18, 2010 at 6:08 a.m.
A Gainesville technology startup company and University of Florida spinout recently was acquired by a Fortune 500 consumer electronics company for an undisclosed amount.
WiPower Inc. developed a wireless charging pad that charges electronic devices such as cell phones, laptop computers or MP3 players placed on or near the pad.
Terms of the deal — including the identity of the acquiring company — are confidential. The Gainesville Technology Enterprise Center — a business incubator that housed WiPower — announced the deal Friday in a press release.
The company's four or five technical employees — all UF engineering grads — have gone to work for the new company, former CEO Rahul Razdan said.
Co-founders Ryan Tseng and Ashish Gupta started working in August for Qualcomm, according to postings made to social networking sites. Qualcomm is an advanced wireless technologies company based in San Diego that reported $10.4 billion in revenue in 2009.
Tseng originated WiPower's technology while an engineering student at UF and founded the company in 2006 with licenses on several patents from UF. Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.
Razdan said there were several times the company nearly ran out of money, surviving on money from friends and family.
“I at one point wrote a check to keep things going,” he said.
The company later was able to secure about $500,000 from early-stage investors, two federal grants and one from the Florida High-Tech Corridor Council. The technology garnered attention at consumer electronics trade shows and was featured on CNBC and “The Today Show.”
Razdan said the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas “got us on the radar screen for a lot of people, one of which acquired us.”
Razdan, an electrical and computer engineer with more than 20 years of executive management experience, joined WiPower's technical advisory board in 2008 after seeing a presentation organized by the UF Office of Technology Licensing and was brought on as CEO a year later.
Razdan said he took the technology to several large companies to see if they had something that would be commercially viable.
A company bio said WiPower provided technology to “a spectrum of Fortune 500 consumer electronics companies.”
The technology gained credibility when a competitor — Powermat — launched a product with some success.
“When there's a new emerging area where somebody sees some success, all the big players in the area say, ‘OK, maybe that's real. How are we going to do what we need to do in this area?'” Razdan said.
Unlike other wireless chargers that require that devices be precisely aligned, the devices can be placed at any orientation anywhere on WiPower's charger, company officials said.
“That turned out to be very important to the buyer,” Razdan said.
He said consumers might start seeing the technology within a year at places such as Best Buy and Walmart. Applications in the works include chargers embedded in desks and in the center consoles of cars “so you just throw the device in the center console, and it'll charge instead of plugging it into anything.”
Tech Licensing Director David Day credited Razdan and his management team with getting WiPower “across the finish line.”
“That's the key, in the success of these little startup companies, is the quality of the management in the end,” he said. “It's a very competitive arena.”
Razdan said he is working with UF to find another technology he can lead to commercialization, likely in electronics or software.
April 12, 2009
“One-stop online shop”Business Facilities Magazine March 1, 2009
Tech Hubs ”Florida’s “Faces of Technology” Highlighted in florida.HIGH.TECH 2009
February 12, 2009