Trillium Tacks On $29 Million
Ottawa-based Trillium Photonics Inc. will announce Tuesday that it's received US$29 million in a second funding round (see Trillium Gets $29M).
The funding comes from Spectrum Equity Investors, JK&B Capital, a U.S.-based arm of Mitsubishi Corp., and Mohr Davidow Ventures.
Mohr Davidow was the sole investor in the company's first-round funding, which took place in August 2000, a month after the startup's founding, and totaled $6.8 million. Trillium now has $35.8 million in funding.
The startup plans to use the money wisely. "We are very focused, our business model is very carefully planned," says CEO Brian Jervis, who formerly worked at Newbridge Networks and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT).
Trillium's main product will be an amplifier it claims dramatically improves on the performance of today's equipment. While refusing to be specific about the materials used and the design, Jervis says Trillium's gear will have key features to help lower the operational and capital costs of carriers' optical networks.
For one thing, the amplifier will be all-optical, he says, and not based on electronics. As a result, Jervis claims, Trillium will be able to boost the intensity of light in fiber optic networks over greater distances. Today, he notes, electronically-based amplifiers boost light signals but introduce noise in the process, reducing the distances that may be traversed before light needs to be regenerated -- and amplifiers must be added at increased cost in equipment and technician's time.
Jervis says he's already got customers lined up to test Trillium's prototype amplifiers, which are scheduled for general availability in the second half of this year. The inital product will be followed up with a portfolio of component modules.
It all sounds terrific, but Trillium is stepping into waters tainted with the blood of slaughtered component startups (see Zenastra Photonics: RIP and Nanovation Files for Chapter 11). Further, there are other well backed competitors circling -- some, such as Genoa Corp., with their own amplifier plans (see Genoa).
Jervis is undeterred. He says that by focusing on a specific high-growth segment and targeting more than one Tier 1 and 2 carrier customer, he's confident of success. "Your business model has to make sense," he asserts. "You can't count on a single home run to build your business."
Trillium's also focused on staying lean and mean. Its next steps will be to ramp up its sales, marketing, and in-house manufacturing of selected optics -- all without hiring much beyond its 48-person staff. "We figure we're already right sized," Jervis says cryptically. "We intend to manage our funds carefully."
— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading