Chartering new standards of excellence in SOC Design and transforming end user experiences through its distinctive end to end system design for global companies:BlackPepper Technologies
In the current scenario, semiconductors are omnipresent and there is no denial it will become an intergal part of our evolution, as we witness the evolution of the intelligent devices consumed by us in all walks of life. A significant part of our modern life, they are vital to everything from automobiles, stop lights to computers, phones and tablets. With the Internet of Things (IoT) quickly going mainstream and the growth rates for the smartphones markets are leveling off, smart semiconductors technology has been driving innovation and enabling proper communication and networking. Modern life is simply hard to imagine as semiconductors are the foundation for all the advanced technology that is used today. As electronic devices are proliferating, the semiconductor industry is continuously prospering. The meteoric rise of companies into manufacturing of semiconductors is creating a mark on the global horizon. Since semiconductors stay as clandestine in phones, tablets and computers, many semiconductor companies stay low, quietly doing business with companies that manufacture devices.
With over a decade of semiconductor SoC designexperience, strict axioms of quality, constant improvement in R & D, technology, and processes, and the hard work of a dedicated team of professionals, BlackPepper Technologies today is an Indian brand that is recognized globally. Ripening with a clear vision of building an end to end full-fledged hardware company out of India, BlackPepper Technologies is a new generation System to Silicon Design Company that has been growing exponentially year on year through organic means. Holding diverse design capabilities to provide comprehensive turnkey solutions to tier 1 to tier 3 companies, BlackPepper today holds the crown as the trusted design partner to top 10 global semiconductor companies. With a cumulative expertise of more than 500 years of combined experience in the field, the management team has witnessed, participated in and shaped the complete evolutionary phase of the industry. As India is poised for rapid take off to become a manufacturing centre for the world, the organization is looking forward to setting new standards of excellence in electronics and introducing a new range of products and services to the furthest corners of the globe.
The advent of transporting product engineering capabilities for global semiconductor and system leaders
BlackPepper has created a niche in offering comprehensive turnkey solutions across the leagues of Consumer Electronics, Automotive, Medical, Industrial Automation, Defence, Wireless and the Internet of Things. As typical of any startup, the initial journey was pretty rough for BlackPepper. It took initial three years to build their business plan, technological platform and design process. Once the core team of BlackPepper was ready with an appropriate platform, they started amplifying rapidly(2to 3 times), year on year. Starting from Physical Design services for a single Tier-1 semiconductor company, BlackPepper today has expanded into all horizons of the silicon realization flow. Today the company is working closely with global companies to enable their end to end hardware design roadmap.
The company’s distinct functional units encompass, Logic Design & Verification, Design for Test, Physical Design, Board Design, Analog & Mixed Signal Design, Post Silicon Validation, Yield Optimization, Supply Chain Management, Industrial Design and Embedded Software. BlackPepper’s AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Deep Learning) and DL (Deep Learning) driven solutions cater to applications like ADAS, Predictive Machine Monitoring, Autonomous Platforms, etc. Crowned with “Indian Leadership Award for Industrial Development” by All India Achievers Foundation, BlackPepper is actively transforming itself into a company that is squarely at the heart of the product end user experience.
“In the current era of democratized innovation, wherein the overall eco-system can be distributed and yet cohesively work like one with each playing critical role. This has given rise to companies like Qualcomm, MediaTek, unlike in the past where only companies like Intel or AMD controlled the overall ecosystem. Globally the overall eco-system has been growing rapidly with new technology adoption across the industries. As per Gartner, it is estimated that each of us will be using 4 connected devices (IOT) and they will outdo humans by 2020. Industrial automation (Industry 4.0) also opens up huge opportunities for BlackPepper. The company is investing heavily in building solutions using Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/BOTS to solve problems around predictive motor failures, smart logistics, etc.”
A leader carved out from human values rather than conventional corporate priorities
Each one of BlackPepper’s employee (alias Pepperite) – has strong engineering capabilities, passion for excellence, and above all, is a fine human being. For BlackPepper, every Pepperite comes first, and for every Pepperite, the customer comes first. The organization believes in the philosophy of collective entrepreneurship and encourages every single Pepperite to visualize freely, innovate tirelessly, question fearlessly and be deeply involved in every facet of the BlackPepper success story. The organization has recently launched the long committed employee ownership model and it covered a significant part of the employees.
BlackPepper’s Learning Academy’s Concept: Lean Tall Engineering™ (LTE) – more engineering capability per engineer
The world-class engineering talent at BlackPepper is handpicked from top semiconductor companies across the world which are constantly groomed under the concept of Lean Tall Engineering™ (LTE) – more engineering capability per engineer. The framework has helped the organization to transform an ordinary design engineer to an architect level. “Our LTE framework allows two of our engineers to (say), design a semiconductor block far better and quicker, which typically takes five engineers in other companies,” explains Jei Narayanan, COO, BlackPepper Technologies. Brainstormed and designed by the leadership team, in partnership with HR & L&D with an objective to augment the skill sets of the resources in line with the requirements and in turn build Lean Tall Engineering™ (LTE) framework, the Learning Academy is counted to one of the earnest efforts to provide continuous learning and development opportunities at BlackPepper. It focuses on imparting technical and behavioral knowledge, covering a wide gamut of enablers and business programs tailored to the company’s goals. In order to make it more engaging and constructive, it is gamified, made accessible across devices, and extremely interactive. The LTE framework comprises of Young Leadership Program (YLP) which is a multi-touchpoint program tailored for Pepperites aspiring to be Leaders. It aims to bring a mindset change in Pepperites and equips them with tools and knowledge required for the new, complex gamut of responsibilities. The career progressions are proposed looking at – on the job development: Technical capability, coaching by leaders, Competency level enhancement, and Customer interface accountability. Learning and Development is part of BlackPepper’sTalent Transformation interventions. The internal leaders and external facilitators partner with the leadership team to transform the Pepperites.
The 70/20/10 approach for transformation under the LTE framework:
Pepperite Ownership Agreement (POA)
Transformation is not limited to technology; even in its belief system, BlackPepper enables its employees to own percentile equity in the company and remain undiluted. It’s probably a unique model that not many companies have dared to institute as part of their employee ownership models.
BlackPepper always thrives to be a unique differentiator in many ways; even in the stock allocation schemes it went beyond what Infosys enabled and allocated an undiluted percentile equity ownership across the organization. The company ensured that the admin staff who had joined the company in its early days was also allocated equity ownership. It would be highly possible that he would not have expected or even demanded, but the company’s belief system was such that every eligible Pepperite (what we call each member in the company). The company has also coined a new name for this stock allocation scheme; it’s called the “Pepperite Ownership Agreement (POA)”, it dares to state it is unlike any traditional ESOP scheme – it is much more than that. To ensure retention of undiluted ownership by each Pepperite, BlackPepper has already carved out and set aside the total percentage equity of the company that could be allocated to future investors.
A recognition program dedicated to the Pepperites to acknowledge their potential and tread the path of success, PREP enables leaders and employees to recognize each other – across Business units, Band levels, Customer projects, and reward them for great work and efforts. The achievements are recognized for:
- For success
- For excellence including knowledge and skills
- For innovation
Creating Values for the clients with its expertise
BlackPepper has built a strong base of customers across the global top 10 semiconductor companies and having closely associated with each of their customers and delivering significant value on the design services. Today the company claims all the industry veterans as their customers. BlackPepper’s unique customer engagement model has been in works from day one, deeply engage with each customer to build each technical vertical and expand across the design. BlackPepper has constituted a design service technology framework which will assure the most predictable execution for every phase of the product engineering cycle – be it Silicon, System or Embedded software design. BlackPepper’s single-minded focus on optimization has led to the creation of the EYWA platform – a distillation of hundreds of person-years of varied experience that their core engineering team could draw from. The EYWA framework seamlessly stitches together:
- Lean Tall Engineering (LTE) is a focused return to first principle engineering tenets of yesteryears where a single engineer was massively multi-skilled rather than skills and capabilities being sliced and diced across a slew of less experienced engineers. As the counter-model that is today prevalent in large swathes of the Indian engineering eco-system is slowly but surely eroding India’s positioning in the global value chain with clear signs that the existing model is nothing but a race to the bottom.
- Quick IP Select (QIS) IP Vendor model – key methodology wherein SoC/System design IPs from multiple IP suppliers get matrix characterized. The optimal selection is performed by an internally developed mathematical algorithm by solving complex selection criteria on a per SoC/System basis.
- Design Environment on Demand (DEOD) environment selection model consisting of EDA-DEOD and MACHINE-DEOD selection methodology for arriving at the optimal Price Vs TAT curve before design start or even course correct at run-time.
- Sure Shot Convergence System (SSCS) project execution environment – Innovative platform for efficient project implementation wherein phase hand-offs are managed automatically using network-protocol inspired procedures.
- Sure Fast Platforms (SFP) for rapid SoC and system designs – a Silicon and System integration process that allows auto-stitching of SoC subsystems allowing customers to focus purely on their differentiating IP or innovation.
- Tier-1 service proven Cluster Team Delivery Model of engagement – Minimum program management bandwidth advantage for customer, Delivery ownership, clear team communication and timely deliverables
BlackPepper has been recognized by various entities for its contributions and capabilities, a few that are listed,
- “Fastest Growing Indian Company Excellence Award 2017” by International Achievers Conference
- ELCINA-EFY 2017 awards BlackPepper Technologies 1st prize for “Entrepreneurial Excellence”.
- BlackPepper Technologies was named in “20 Most Promising Semiconductor Solutions Providers – 2016” by CIO Review.
- Black Pepper Technologies has been shortlisted in “50 Best Companies to work for” by a leading Indian business review magazine.
- BlackPepper Technologies has been named in “20 Most Promising Engineering Services Companies in India” by a leading Indian business magazine.
- ELCINA-EFY 2016 awards BlackPepper Technologies in the category of “Business Excellence”.
- HarikrishnanPuravankara, Founder & CEO named among The 30 Most Influential Young Entrepreneurs, 2016 by InsightSuccess.
Mastering its Prowess: BlackPepper’s Journey Ahead
“We aspire to leave our logo on the products that we design with “Crafted by BlackPepper” tag.”
Over the years, the company has been furnishing its skills, the capabilities and the business verticals to accelerate its transformation into a complete SoC (System On Chip) to Systems company with the ability to provide a true end-user experience. Endeavoring on its journey towards excellence, BlackPepper is eyeing to be listed by 2021 with a valuation of about USD 1 Billion. The organization is growing year on year rapidly and building up to the IPO goal, so diluting equity is going to be essential as well. But the organization is not aggressively approaching investors even though the management has been getting requests from various funds. Currently, the company is raising debt capital to ramp up the revenue and build the necessary technical verticals for the end to end system design. Working on the milestones defined, the company will choose to dilute equity to strategic, large fund houses and global PE funds. BlackPepper’s vision is to design products whose end-user experiences will be transformational. The future will open significant opportunities and there are reports that claim each human being will be carrying about 4-6 connected devices that are intelligent(Internet of Things), industries are moving towards Industry 4.0, consumer electronics is rapidly changing. All these products may require BlackPepper Design capabilities, that’s substantial and rapidly growing month on month.
“Our biggest dream is to list ourselves as the first full-fledged hardware company in India and as the company name and logo indicate, attract global companies to India for an end to end system design as in past India attracted countries for spices like “Black Pepper”.
Founder & CEO
A dynamic entrepreneur, Hari comes with about 16 yrs of a career spanning Silicon design, Supply Chain Management, Foundry relations and technical support. His professional stint initiated from Wipro Technologies as a cell library and physical design specialist, moving on to Magma Design Automation, he led the Applications Support team across the Asia Pacific. He quit Magma to start building the vision for BlackPepper in 2010 and raised angel funding to commence the operations in 2012. Hari has received numerous accreditations under the best engineering project category as well as a “Best Designer” award at an All-India IEEE design contest during his engineering days. He is a graduate in Bachelor of Engineering from Cochin University of Science and Technology in Electronics Engineering.
Sujeeth Joseph is a semiconductor industry veteran in the SoC, System and Product architecture space with a career spanning over 25 years. Prior to joining BlackPepper, at SanDisk India, he was Director of Architecture for the USD $2B Removable Products Group. Simultaneously, he also headed the SanDisk India Patenting function, the Retail Competitive Analysis Group and drove academic research programs with premier Indian academic Institutes. He graduated in electronics engineering from Bombay University.
Jei has a vast professional experience of over 25 years in semiconductor and electronics industry.Prior to joining BlackPepper as COO, he was the Practice Head of the IC Design team at TATA Consultancy Services since 2011. He has headed numerous positions with a specialty in focused competency building for engineers as well as building scale-able VLSI teams from scratch. The initial 11 years of his career was spent in designing electronics for Inertial Navigation Systems in Satellite Launch Vehicles at ISRO. He holds an M.Tech degree in Electronics from IT, BHU, Varanasi.
Exec. VP: Delivery
Manoj is an industry veteran in the area of Chip Design and has been a SoC Product Specialist with more than 16 years of experience. He has been instrumental in implementing & delivering multiple first passes SoCs across Automotive, Wireless, Wireline, Health Care domains for companies like Infineon, Lantiq, and Wipro. His expertise spans across RTL Design, Chip Implementation, Package Design, Silicon Ramp-up and foundry support. He has built large teams from scratch, ramped up business and anchored critical projects for the customer. He holds a Bachelors degree in Telecommunications Engineering from BMS College, Bangalore
Executive Vice President: Strategy & Marketing
Basavaraj has diversified experience; he has been an entrepreneur, Investment adviser, technocrat, teacher and a mentor. He comes with about 21 yrs of corporate experience, worked Subex, VeriSign &Syniverse at different levels and held the post of General Manager (GM) in his last organization. He has an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University, USA and a Bachelor degree (Engineering) in Telecommunications from BMS College of Engineering, Bangalore.
Salesh Kumar N V
Vice President: Strategic Initiatives – R&D
Salesh brings in 17+ years of industry experience in the ASIC, Microprocessor and EDA fields in both technical and management roles. Prior to BlackPepper, he was working in the capacity of Advisory R&D in IBM where he was responsible for mainframe microprocessor timing architecture for multiple generations of the P and Z series of processors.At Magma Design Automation, Salesh played a key architectural role in developing their flagship Timing Engine tool. He has made significant contributions in physical design and cell library development in his previous stints at Philips Semiconductors and Wipro Technologies. Salesh did his Bachelor of Technology from Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology (RIT), Kottayam in Electronics and Telecommunications in 1999.