NEWS RELEASE — KSE Partners
February 6, 2013
Winooski Company Finds Success with Help from Local Incubators and Investors
Winooski, Vt. – SemiProbe, a global supplier of modular probe and inspection equipment for the semiconductor industry, today announced record revenue growth, expansion of their facility in Winooski and the addition of new employees in 2012. The company anticipates an additional 50 percent increase of their workforce in 2013.
“At a time when companies in our state and around the nation have been struggling to keep afloat, we are experiencing just the opposite,” said SemiProbe cofounder, president and CEO Denis Place. “We knew there was a niche out there for microchip probing equipment that the global market couldn’t fill and we used innovative technology developed here in Vermont to make it happen.”
Founded in Vermont in 2006, SemiProbe designs, manufactures and sells probing and inspection systems and accessories for manufacturers of semiconductor chips. Their customers include the world’s most advanced science and research institutions and many of the top semiconductor companies. The company’s founders, Denis Place, Don Feuerstein and Mostafa Daoudi, are former SUSS MicroTec employees who believed they could build less expensive, more customizable test solutions.
With funding and mentoring assistance from Vermont economic development organizations and private investors, the company has seen a six-fold growth in revenue since 2009. In the next five years, SemiProbe is on track to employ up to 80 employees, filling some of the gap left by SUSS MicroTec, which fully closed its Waterbury, Vermont, office in 2010.
During SemiProbe’s early years, Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) provided incubator space for the fledgling manufacturing firm and expert local mentors, including retired IBM executive Mark Slocum and VCET entrepreneur-in-residence, Steve Mank. Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA), Vermont Community Loan Fund (VCLF) and Burlington’s Community Economic Development Organization (CEDO) also provided various forms of early-stage financing.
In 2010, SemiProbe received a round of venture capital (VC) investment from accredited individual Vermont investors, Boston VC firm Launch Capital and the Vermont Seed Capital Fund. In addition, Union Bank provided a working capital line of credit, guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), to help secure foreign-based orders. These investments enabled the company to encroach on the $350 million global analytical prober market dominated by about twelve competitors worldwide.
“If it weren’t for VCET, chances are we wouldn’t be in business now,” commented Place. “Incubator centers like VCET are very important if we’re going to expand the technology business base in this state.” As for the company’s funding, Place explained, “VEDA, VCLF, CEDO and our investors were also instrumental in our success. We had no history and no collateral, so we couldn’t get conventional loans from banks. This funding was truly necessary.”
“SemiProbe is a great example of Vermont professionals who wanted to grow their business in our state, but needed the expert mentoring, support and capital to get there,” noted VCET President and SemiProbe Board of Advisors Member David Bradbury. “Now they’re one of twelve companies in the world competing for this business, creating jobs of the future right here.”
As SemiProbe continues to grow, its founders remain committed to expanding their high-tech firm in the Green Mountain state. “We want to build innovative products and provide challenging work where you can travel the world, but still come back to relatively crime-free, pollution-free, and traffic-free Vermont,” said Place.
SemiProbe is a global supplier of test and inspection solutions for microelectronics, MEMS, high frequency, nanotechnology, microfluidics, optoelectronics, photovoltaics and more. Their signature product, the Probe System for Life (PS4L) family of probing and inspection systems, embodies their patented adaptive architecture. All key building blocks are interchangeable. Because they’re easily customized, the PS4L systems enable customers to realize substantial time and cost savings over traditional probe systems when wafer size, levels of automation, or test requirements change. Customers can start with a system that meets their initial application and budget and then perpetually field upgrade it as their requirements change without having to purchase an entirely new system. Learn more at http://www.semiprobe.com/index.php.