Friday, June 22, 2007
Interview with Colin Lippincott, Freewave
Earlier this month, Boulder, Colorado-based Freewave Technologies (www.freewave.com), announced a $113M investment in the firm from private equity firm TA Associates. To get some perspective on the deal, and on what Freewave does, we spoke with Colin Lippincott, VP of Sales and Marketing for the firm.
Can you give us some background on what your product is, and what your company does?
Colin Lippincott: We make data radios - long range reliable, robust radios for industrial communications and military communications. It's data, not voice, and our largest markets are oil and gas and the military.
Why your radios instead of other kinds of technology?
Colin Lippincott: When radio is the right choice, we've earned a reputation for reliable communications without barriers. We find ways to do data through harsh environment, which is why people select us. Our support model is unique, we have a 7x24 operation, and our commitment to customers is different. That's why they choose us when radio is a choice. There are other technologies--cell phone, microwave, and there's wire. But, when you are spread over a large geography and don't own right of way or when trenching is impractical, wire just become economically infeasible, let alone impractical, because of right of way and other barriers.
How long has the firm been around?
Colin Lippincott: We've been in Boulder since August 1993.
Where did the company come from?
Colin Lippincott: The founders had a good idea on using spread spectrum technology and wanted to test the waters and see if they were successful--so far so good.
It looks like this is a pretty big private equity round. You've been around for awhile, why take capital now?
Colin Lippincott: Complimenting what you have proably heard from TA, we wanted to make sure we could be competitive and stronger. There is lots of activity in our space. We just saw a requirement for strengthening the company, and to grow our already successful R&D and sales operations and marketing.
Why did you look at private equity, instead of venture capital or a more traditional bank for capital?
Colin Lippincott: We evaluated a lot of options, looking to find a close philosophical fit. TA has been that. They're aligned with what we want to do with our culture, which is a pretty important factor when looking for a partner.
Prior to the investment by TA, who were the major holders of the company?
Colin Lippincott: The founders.
We understand you still do all your manufacturing in Boulder?
Colin Lippincott: We are quite unique in that regard. We don't do outsourcing, we don't do anything offshore. All our manufacturing and all of our staff is here, except for a couple of sales people who live away from here. It's done all here under this roof.
Thanks for the interview!