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Former Broadcom Duo Looks to Cash in on 5G

Siblings Maryam Rofougaran and Reza Rofougaran are back with another startup. The sale of their company, Innovent Systems Inc., to Broadcom Corp. in 2000 for $440 million and the pair’s subsequent engineering work at Broadcom helped create a wireless communications-chip powerhouse.

The duo’s new startup is Newport Beach-based Movandi. It already has a significant amount of venture capital funding in its corner: $9 million from the likes of San Francisco-based Cota Capital and San Mateo-based Sierra Ventures. Movandi also has a strategic partnership with Taiwan-based Wistron NeWeb Corp.

The startup is developing products for 5G and other high-speed, high-capacity networks. 5G is considered the next wireless “revolution” of multigigabit connectivity. The company creates radio and antenna technology and systems for high-frequency, millimeter-wave networks.

Movandi’s applications include extending high data-rate content delivery across mobile platforms; virtual and augmented reality services; vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, communications; and products for the Internet of Things, the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.

Movandi’s technology is aimed at manufacturers, network operators and device makers so they can achieve higher data rates and lower latencies. Latency, in networking, is the time between making a request for data and receiving the data on your computer or mobile device. It can be more important than speed in a 5G wireless networking situation.

5G standards won’t be established until next year—it promises higher speeds and capacity and lower latency than today’s 4G cellular systems. This is a long-term market opportunity with potential to grow into the billions of dollars, Maryam Rofougaran said. Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Corp. are among the tech giants developing infrastructure products for the high-performance, communications market.

Movandi was created last year. Maryam is chief operating officer, and Reza is chief technology officer. The company’s goals for the rest of the year are to sample antenna modules for 28 GHz, and a 39 GHz version soon after, Maryam said.

The siblings hold more than 800 patents, ranking them as one of the top 20 patent holders in the world, according to the company. One of Movandi’s board members, Bobby Yazdani, is the founder and managing partner of equity partner Cota Capital.

The Discoverer

Learn about exotic destinations, from a local’s perspective. That’s the goal of new startup The Discoverer.

The company was founded in Irvine, and the 10-person team is now split between Irvine and Denver. Chief Executive Nicholas Pardon founded the company through his incubator, Inboxlab.

It works like this: The company sends emails to subscribers, who sign up for free. It also generates revenue by ads in those emails, brand partnerships and sweepstakes sponsorships. It’s at 350,000 subscribers as of the end of last month, Pardon said. A future goal is launching a platform connecting its subscribers around the globe.

Pardon has bootstrapped the company with approximately $300,000, he said.

He has previously launched several companies and endeavors, including Irvine-based Restoration Media, a recruitment marketing company that owns and operates a network of job search sites known as CareerCentric.

Top Angel Group

Irvine-based Tech Coast Angels announced that Seattle-based PitchBook listed the angel network as the top VC investor for early-stage investments in SoCal since the start of 2015. PitchBook is an independent data provider specializing in venture capital, private equity and M&A deals.

The PitchBook data, published in July, shows that TCA led other angel networks and VC firms in all categories: number of investments since the start of 2015, with 46; number of investments in the last six months, with seven; number of investments in the last 12 months, with 12; and number of investments in the last two years, with 26.

According to PitchBook, capital invested in SoCal startups has increased since the beginning of 2015, with almost 1,000 VC deals completed in the region by more than 1,000 individual investors.  

TCA has the largest membership of any angel investor group in the U.S., and is comprised of five regional networks in Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles, Inland Empire and the Central Coast. Members are accredited investors who collectively invest in the range of $250,000 to $2 million.

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