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Mission Microwave Technologies, Inc.

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June 5, 2017 Issue

CEOCFO MAGAZINE

 

Revolutionary Power Efficient, Light Weight Solid-State Power Amplifiers and Block Upconverters that Support Satellite Communications

 

 

Francis Auricchio

President and CEO

 

Mission Microwave Technologies, Inc.

www.missionmicrowave.com

 

Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published Ė June 5, 2017

 

CEOCFO: Mr. Auricchio, what is Mission Microwave Technologies?

Mr. Auricchio: Mission Microwave Technologies (Mission) is a satellite communications company that provides Solid-State Power Amplifiers and Block Upconverters to support microwave communications from ground or terrestrial links to the satellite.

 

CEOCFO: What is different, better, cheaper and easier about your products?

Mr. Auricchio: Mission has developed some revolutionary products that are smaller, lighter and require less power than competing products, for a given frequency band and power level. This is made possible by using the latest advances in Gallium Nitride (GaN) semiconductor technology and some intellectual property (IP) that we have developed to efficiently combine these semiconductor devices to achieve the desire power levels. Missionís products are all industry leaders for every product category that we compete, in terms of lower Size, Weight and Power (SWaP).

 

CEOCFO: Are the people that should be using your product aware of what you have done and have available?

Mr. Auricchio: Some of the people in the industry are aware. As a relatively new company operating in the satellite communications market, we have a bit of a evangelizing to do, but our customers are aware that these products have ground breaking performance and the competition are becoming more and more aware as Mission continues to take market opportunities from even the more entrenched competitors. Mission is also starting to expand its marketing outside of the ground based or terrestrial markets to exploit our Size, Weight and Power advantages in other applications where these can be a limitation of the currently used products.

 

CEOCFO: When you are speaking with a new potential customer or introducing a product, are people skeptical it can be accomplished?

Mr. Auricchio: In general, yes. Some customers are initially skeptical because there have been others in the industry that have come before us, promoting the use of advanced GaN semiconductor devices, and smaller and lighter amplifiers. Unfortunately, they were trying too hard for the first mover advantage and didnít really understand the changes that they were implementing. This resulted in early reliability problems, with the components running hotter than expected, and cast a shadow over the use of these devices to produce smaller and lighter amplifiers Ė without sacrificing reliability.

 

CEOCFO: How do you overcome the skepticism?

Mr. Auricchio: Mission takes great care to understand the entire solution; from the semiconductors used, all the way up to the final product design. A large portion of the Mission team has over 30 years in the space industry, producing products that have to survive in space for 15 years with no failures. That methodology drives Missionís designs; from the power amplifier to the power supplies, and specifically how these components are designed, built and tested. Every product that Mission sells goes through the same laborious design process and receives proprietary screening for reliability. Before these amplifiers are shipped to the customer, they undergo rigorous environmental testing and must pass a list of performance requirements. By the time these amplifiers go out the door, we are extremely confident in their reliability and have demonstrated that each one meets or exceeds its performance requirements.

 

CEOCFO: What is one thing about how you are able to keep it cooler?

Mr. Auricchio: Mission has developed a revolutionary product design shape, versus other products in the industry. Our shape is cylindrical and it has a tailored thermal interface, versus a square or a rectangular shape. Inside of that cylindrical shape, we do certain things to allow proper heat sinking or proper transfer of waste heat to the cooling system, which is much more efficient than what our competitors do.

 

CEOCFO: Does the shape interfere with what someone is currently using?

Mr. Auricchio: The shape takes people by surprise but once weíve explained the reason for the shape, we have not had any issues with our customers implementing it. The cylindrical shape allows Mission to make the product smaller and lighter than conventional means. If a customer can fit a conventional product into their system, it will be easier to fit Missionís cylindrical product because it is smaller and lighter.

 

CEOCFO: Who is using your products today?

Mr. Auricchio: Mission has both commercial and military customers. Mission has commercial customers that utilize these products in a variety of different applications such as satellite news gathering, voice and data back-haul, airborne satellite links and satellite links on trains and ocean vessels. Missionís products find their way into the military applications through integrators, not direct sales to the military. These products are being used for voice, data, and video transmission on a variety of platforms including man-packs, portable and fixed terminals, even communications-on-theĖmove for ground, air, and sea-based links. 

 

CEOCFO: Do you need to maintain a large inventory or are you able to ramp up as needed?

Mr. Auricchio: Mission has a very minimal inventory. Because we are able to build the products relatively quickly, we can have an inventory of the building block components and be able to build the products as the orders come in, in a relatively short period of time.

 

CEOCFO: What is the range of products available today and what are you working on that might be available a year from now?

Mr. Auricchio: Missionís products that are available today are divided across multiple frequency bands and multiple power levels within those frequency bands. Mission currently has products available at X, Ku and Ka-band frequencies. Within those frequency bands, there are amplifiers from 12 watts up to 200 watts. Mission is currently working on amplifier products with power levels up to about 800 watts, to compete with traveling wave tube amplifiers (TWTAs). Mission is also planning to develop amplifiers for space-based applications.


CEOCFO: How do you decide what to work on next?

Mr. Auricchio: There is not necessarily a hard and fast rule. We definitely want something that has a path to revenue, but there are also some strategic components to this. We know there are certain markets that we want to get into, so we may forgo revenue for some period of time on certain products, in order to get into the desired market and capture that market with either a more competitive product or first mover advantage for a new product. In general, Mission would like to concentrate on the things that other people have problems doing. We want to address the more challenging and custom applications, where we can promote the value of our product and technical innovation, and provide our customers with the solution they have been looking for, but may not have thought possible.

 

CEOCFO: Was that the approach when you started in 2014 or did you realize over time that made the most sense?

Mr. Auricchio: Our thought process, since we started the company, has always been that we wanted to push the envelope. There was no desire to be another ďme-tooĒ player in a commoditized market and have a race to the bottom on price. There are some competitors out there where this is their strategy, but not ours. We wanted to target applications where it was tough for competitors to be successful; to give us the advantage if we could do it and really show the differentiation of what our products can do versus what the competitor products could do.

 

CEOCFO: Are you seeking funding, partnerships or investment?

Mr. Auricchio: Yes, we are always seeking strategic partnerships and/or investment. I will tell you that because Mission is a hardware business, as opposed to a software business or an Internet business, the raising of capital has been one of the most challenging aspects in running this company or growing this type of business. Most investors do not like to touch hardware companies; they would rather have a software company or an Internet company, which require less initial capital and have potentially higher rates of return.

 

CEOCFO: However, you are in an industry that needs hardware.

Mr. Auricchio: That is the conundrum here. Everyone wants to be a part of that Internet company, but quickly dismiss the hardware that enables the Internet or allows the speed, accessibility and capacity of the Internet to be improved. They want the virtual company rather than the actual company.

 

CEOCFO: What is the competitive landscape? Are there many companies innovating in this industry?

Mr. Auricchio: This is very much a niche market. There are a small group of companies that produce products similar or deliver products into applications like Mission. As far as the innovation, we have not seen innovation of anything remotely on the scale of what we are promoting in our new products. We have had many customers share this with us. There is a feeling that many of the competitors are basically riding their existing products into the sunset and not investing in R&D, because they have some significant market share and loyalty of customers. This is Missionís entry opportunity into this market; by providing these customers a highly differentiated product that outperforms, has superior reliability and in some cases, is even less expensive than the products they are currently using.


CEOCFO: What is the take away both for the businesses and investors that should be interested in Mission Microwave? What might be overlooked about Mission Microwave that should be understood?

Mr. Auricchio: The takeaway for Missionís business is that we believe we can grow this company into a dominant force in the satellite communications industry; in terms of technology, reliability and enabling our customers to perform things that were previously impossible with the past technology. For investors; we have a very quick growth curve for this company and believe we can achieve year on year revenue growth, which is very atypical of hardware companies, by capturing some key market segments and opportunities. Mission absolutely outshines the competition, even in terms of being a relatively new company. As far as something that people may miss when they look at Mission as a company; we may look like a typical hardware company in an industry that is producing highly commoditized products, but we are producing highly differentiated products and we are actually encroaching on the market of our competitorís. In essence, we are actually growing where our competitorís businesses are actually declining.


 

ďThis is Missionís entry opportunity into this market; by providing these customers a highly differentiated product that outperforms, has superior reliability and in some cases, is even less expensive than the products they are currently using.Ē- Francis Auricchio


 

Mission Microwave Technologies, Inc.

www.missionmicrowave.com

 

Contact:

Francis Auricchio

951-893-4929

fran@missionmicrowave.com



 


 

 



 

 


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