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UM spinout Discera adds 9 positions, quintuples revenue

Discera is ramping up its business model through customer service rather than product improvement, although both are playing key roles in their growth strategy.

The California-based business that specializes in semi-conductor technology maintains its research & development operations in Ann Arbor. It changed its sales strategy about a year ago, adding system maintenance service for customers. That change allowed the company to grow its sales every quarter since, quintupling its revenue in one year.

"We really see this sales strategy working for us," says Wan-Thai Hsu, CTO for Discera. "At the same time we're expanding to a higher-end market where there is better pricing."

Discera added nine jobs in 2010, expanding its staff to 42 people. That includes five people in the Ann Arbor office. The company expects its revenue to continue growing at that pace, and in turn to add another 5-10 positions in 2011. Discera is also a semi-finalist for the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, where it is not only showing off its product but looking for the next innovations it can capitalize on.

Discera develops and markets a micro-electrical mechanical system that can replace traditional quartz crystals and oscillators. This product has the size, cost, and reliability typically associated with integrated circuits but offers more features, such as shorter lead-times and operation over a wider temperature range. The company spun this technology out of the University of Michigan nine years ago and moved to California a few years ago to be closer to its investors. It also became a campaign issue in Michigan's gubernatorial campaign because Gov.-elect Rick Snyder was an early investor.


Source: Wan-Thai Hsu, CTO for Discera
Writer: Jon Zemke

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