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Cable Tech

Minim opens new chapter, gears up for expansion

If you haven't noticed, Minim's been busy of late.

Minim, a company originally focused on device management and security software and services, entered the cable modem and broadband customer premises equipment (CPE) sector in late 2020 when it struck a deal to merge with Zoom Telephonics, a retail specialist that had secured a license for the Motorola brand.

Since then, the combined company has rebranded as Minim and plotted a plan to pair CPE hardware with subscription-based services focused on security and Wi-Fi management. It's also preparing to introduce a family of Wi-Fi 6-powered CPE products and looking to augment its retail and e-commerce focus and its tie-ins with wireless ISPs and certain fiber providers by establishing stronger, more direct relationships with cable operators.

In the meantime, Minim, which had been trading on the OTB market, completed an uplisting to the Nasdaq market and began trading there under the "MINM" ticker on July 7.

One of the executives who have helped Minim navigate through all of that is Nicole Zheng, a co-founder and chief marketing officer of the original Minim, who recently added the title of president.

Zheng, a member of founding team of the original Minim, has served as the company's chief marketing officer since the merger with Zoom Telephonics, and recently added the title of president.
Zheng, a member of founding team of the original Minim, has served as the company's chief marketing officer since the merger with Zoom Telephonics, and recently added the title of president.

In her new role, Zheng will team closely with Gray Chynoweth, Minim's CEO, on ensuring the team has leadership where it needs it. Though her focus today is on Minim's product and customer experience activities, she expects to head up other facets of the business from time to time.

"The name of the game for me is to enable Gray to put more 'mindshare' into our bottom-line performance, strategic planning and, of course, investor relations as we navigate the position on the Nasdaq," Zheng explained.

Given her background, helping to lead a tech- and service-oriented company such as Minim seems the right fit. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a double major in engineering and a minor in technical writing, Zheng started at cosmetics giant L'Oréal with an original focus on manufacturing management, then transitioned to marketing and software project management with a Fortune 1000 marketing team. That later led to the top marketing role at OnSIP, a VoIP startup that is now part of Entrado, and then as CMO of a venture-backed digital health company called Antidote Technologies.

A mutual friend connected Zheng with Jeremy Hitchcock, a Minim co-founder who now serves as executive chairman of the board, who was building his team and in search of a marketer with experience developing a go-to-market strategy from the ground up.

With the Nasdaq uplisting done, Minim, which is on track to achieve profitability this year, hopes the move will broaden the company's exposure to the market, provide more liquidity for shareholders and help the company attract talent as well as additional investors.

"We felt that uplisting to the Nasdaq would elevate our company profile as we expand to new markets," Zheng said, but she wouldn't elaborate on what new directions the company is pursuing. "We're actively working on it … The biggest challenge continues to be introducing Minim to the greater world."

Connecting with cable operators

Beyond that, the company intends to focus on global and domestic customer expansion. While already engaged with the wireless ISP and fiber market, Minim is also making plans to engage more directly with cable operators. Zoom Telephonics had tried that before, but those efforts, thanks partly to public spats with MSOs such as Comcast and Charter Communications that have since been resolved, met with limited success.

"We are definitely energized about the idea of working with cable operators – small, medium and large" heading into late 2021 and early 2022, Zheng said, noting that the company has been working closely with CableLabs and is coming off the certification of the first DOCSIS 3.1 modem/gateway that bakes in new Low Latency DOCSIS capabilities.

Given the shortages on components and other technologies, Minim is hopeful that operators will be increasingly open to diversifying their CPE lineups and taking on new suppliers. Minim is also interested in becoming more fully engaged with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), an organization that strikes programming and tech deals on behalf of hundreds of independent cable operators and telcos, and notably has a relationship with Plume, one of Minim's competitors.

"We hope it's the right time. Diversity in your equipment portfolio is very important during these [component] shortages," she said. "We think it's the right time for them to consider."

Mitigating the supply chain challenges

Minim has pushed ahead with a multi-faceted strategy to get a grip on the supply chain issues that have been affecting vendors and service providers nationwide.

Tied into that, Minim has extended its purchase forecast to 52 weeks with manufacturers and endeavored to diversify its supply chain relationships. Additionally, it has invested in R&D toward chipset options to help mitigate risks when shortages do crop up. Finally, the company has, for the first, time, independently secured its own chipset supply, a move that aims to provide some relief for the current crises and a backstop for future crises.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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