1. What's the story behind Nxbeam's creation and the meaning of the name?

Nxbeam was created by me and two other colleagues who saw the growing need for advanced mmWave MMICs and higher-level products to support the advancements in wireless communication. Two of us were already running businesses in this field, while the third was working as a senior scientist in a large company. The three of us were discussing the direction of wireless technology over lunch, and it was during that conversation where we developed our approach to the market and Nxbeam was born. The name Nxbeam was created by shortening Next to “Nx” and adding “beam” which represents how data is sent at mmWave frequencies, i.e., in the form of beams.

Hence, Nxbeam represents the future of wireless data transmission.

2. Outline the scope of your product portfolio.

Being that we are a fabless proprietary IC company, we design and develop MMICs and MMIC-based products focusing on compound semiconductor technology. GaN represent about 90 percent of our product portfolio as power amplifiers (PAs) are a key part of our offerings. We also develop low noise amplifiers, front-end modules and switches. Our products support both the satellite and 5G/6G communications markets. Designing our own MMICs and controlling that intellectual property (IP) is a key aspect of our business plan, as it offers advantages in other areas. Aside from our MMICs, we develop customized high-level products designed specifically to client specifications, but these are not advertised in our standard product portfolio.

3. Your catalog has around 20 products. What approach do you use to build your catalog: custom designs for customers versus your own marketing?

Nxbeam’s approach is to design MMIC products that address market demand and where we can outperform the competition. Our expertis is in mmWave design, so we look to support the increasing demand for those products. We do receive custom design requests for customers and pursue those opportunities on a case-by-case basis.

4. Describe Nxbeam’s capabilities: design, wafer fabrication, packaging and test.

Nxbeam does all its own design work, whether MMICs or high-level products for IP purposes. We are, however, a fabless semiconductor company, so our semiconductor partners do the wafer fabrication including testing, dicing and visual inspection. In addition to our design work, we also do some packaging and testing at the integrated product level. Nxbeam does partner with third-party companies for packaging and test when it makes more sense to outsource.

5. Semiconductor start-ups typically face the challenge of credibility, i.e., convincing program managers and purchasing groups that the company’s products are reliable and can be delivered in volume on time. How are you addressing this?

The three founding partners have all worked in the mmWave arena, and two have owned companies in the past. Much of our prior experience and business relationships have enabled us to establish our initial customer base, grow the business and test and prove the reliability of our products. Another aspect that has helped us with credibility is our semiconductor foundry partner. When a customer knows and trusts the semiconductor foundry we use, it accelerates the acceptance of our products in terms of reliability and delivering on time.

6. Despite the advancing capabilities of simulation, designing MMICs and modules is not easy. How are you staffing so Nxbeam has sufficient design capacity? Do you have multiple design centers?

Experience and know-how play a huge role in the foundation of a successful design team, and the founders have over 75 years of experience to leverage. We have been able to hire additional engineers with strong backgrounds who were able to jump right in and hit the ground running in terms of performance. In addition to hiring designers, a key aspect of our design approach focuses on our design methodology, where we continue to develop our own unique modeling approaches and have written some custom design software that differentiates us in the way we design MMIC products.

7. Highlight several of your released products and what differentiates them.

Nxbeam’s Ka-Band PA MMICs are the market leader in terms of power, gain and efficiency. Their main differentiator is high linear power performance, which is what our customers want. This performance is achieved through the combination of the core semiconductor technology and the design approach and methodology. It takes both aspects to build truly great MMIC products. Using this same approach, we just released our V-Band PA MMIC and have an E-Band PA MMIC in fabrication.

8. Can you share some of the R&D that will extend Nxbeam’s product portfolio above 50 GHz, even above 100 GHz?

Nxbeam is constantly working on R&D to build robust high performing MMICs, and we currently have in the pipeline V-, E- and W-Band designs; also, we are looking into D-Band for specific applications. Another exciting area of our R&D is heterogeneous integration, as this technology is at the very beginning of its capabilities and what we believe will be the next wave of advancement in semiconductor technology, especially at mmWave frequencies. Our current work in this area in on high performance RF front-end products.

9. What's your background and the path that led you to your current role?

My educational background is electrical engineering, where I studied at The Ohio State University and worked as a graduate research associate at the ElectroScience Laboratory. My focus and interest has always been electromagnetics and microwave circuits. After graduate school, I worked as an MMIC design engineer and moved up into both functional and program management positions. I then started my own consulting business. I was fortunate enough to work with some great people throughout my career and had the opportunity to work on some amazing new technology development projects.

I learned so much from those opportunities and enjoyed leading teams and the challenge of building new things, whether it be a product and/or business. Creating Nxbeam was the historical accumulation of my experiences and the next great challenge in my career. I would also like to note that the other Nxbeam foundering partners have extensive backgrounds and similar experience, so the timing was perfect to create Nxbeam.

10. What are some of the challenges and satisfactions you find leading a start-up company?

Without a doubt, the most challenging and exciting part about starting a company is to grow an entity from essentially nothing. It’s a continuous challenge to create products, strategize, find resources, deliver products, raise capital and grow a company. However, it’s extremely exciting and fulfilling to overcome challenges and watch the company grow. Being a start-up, you build a great foundation and comradery with your co-workers that is extremely rewarding for all of us. Leading a start-up takes a tremendous amount of time and effort, but the satisfaction is incredibly rewarding. For the first time in my life, there is really nothing I would rather be doing.