Think Silicon S.A. is a privately held Limited Company founded in 2007. The company head quarter is located in Patras, Greece and its Business Development & Marketing office in Toronto, Canada. Think Silicon is specialized in developing and licensing high performance graphics IP technology for ultra-low power and area limited digital devices for worldwide semiconductor technology customers. In 2016 the startup attended the EU-Japan Centre Centre “ICT mission in Japan”, Yokohama.
Activities: developing and licensing high performance graphics IP technology
Even the Japanese economy faced some turbulences in the last couple of years, Japan is still one of the leading high-tech countries with an increasing innovative potential and markets. Particularly for our technology.
Before the mission, we already started to get customer contacts in Japan. This all happened through our local contact who was a very important support as you can’t be successful in the Japanese market remotely. It is impossible to conduct and control business activities from outside.
Fortunately for us participating in the ICT mission in 2016 was the perfect timing. This allowed us kicking-off much quicker our activities with real projects attached to it.
During the mission, our local contact also represented the company at the booth which was very beneficial to overcome the language barrier and the general reluctance of visitors approaching the booth. Having a booth at the show was very good and important experience. It gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our technology to the public, give the company a “face”, discuss and share ideas and make additional contacts. A bonus was certainly that Ms. Junko Yoshida, a respected technology journalist, was visiting our booth and wrote a nice article about Think Silicon ( EEtimes 11/18/2016 – 10 Cool Discoveries at Japan Embedded”).
We are in touch with a Japanese company which has evaluated our technology last year. This is a long process but we are now working on the final terms and conditions of our evaluation license agreement.
We also have several meetings and conference calls with another semiconductor technology company and they changed this engineering driven bottom-up to a more market focused driven top-down approach. They have a product marketing team and things moving there considerably faster. It seems that we have to adapt our product to their requirements, which is not unusual and they will soon provide us with a short term solution.
We have a World Wide partnership agreement with Synopsys which is built on very solid legs. Synopsys will tape-out a new test-chip with our technology implemented by the end of August 2018. This is a significant and big step since we become exposed to a worldwide customer base and Synopsys JP will particularly benefit from this, since they can approach from their end customers now with a turn-key solution in their particular market.
The challenge is to find the most trustful person there. This is a very good and most likely the only way to enter successful the Japanese market. This is the key because to understand all the rules, the language and culture background is very difficult.
Moreover, the English language skills of the people in Japanese companies are limited. Therefore you need someone to translate not only the language but also the culture code which is very important in order to avoid mistakes by building relationships and during meetings.
Another unique characteristics by doing business in Japan, is to understand the business/fiscal year cycles, which is crucial if you want to achieve success. This kind of situation is quite particular to Japan, in another country such as China if there is a need then they will not wait for next year but try to move things.
Finally, it is also important to go to Japan as much as possible. This helps to build trust and respect. Japanese people are very friendly and appreciate the efforts by visiting them.
Interview made with Ulli Mueller, VP Marketing & Business Development at Think Silicon, ICT mission 2016 Alumni (July 2018)