20thSep 2011

“You can’t just shove a plant in a pot and expect it to survive.  You have to nurture it with the right size pot, food, water and light.  SETsquared provided the right conditions for Gnodal to thrive.”   Fred Homewood, CEO and Co-founder. 

Fast Facts   SETquared Support
Company Gnodal  IP workshops & legal advice
Website Flexible affordable office space
Sector ICT Strategic mentor support
Status Alumni Network contacts

 Faster, faster pussycat!

The team at Gnodal is building the largest, fastest, most efficient networks for high performance data centers. Their innovative products reduce power, cooling and ownership costs and are set to transform data centres around the world.  The idea to build the world’s fastest ethernet switch evolved over a few years and a lot of corridor conversations with other designers in the Bristol silicon cluster. By 2007 founder Fred Homewood was in a position to jump in and start-up. He had come across SETsquared while working for Xmos, another SETsquared company.  He pitched the bones of his idea to the SETsquared team and was accepted. In a matter of weeks he had a desk and a place to meet potential customers, funders and his team.  

SETsquared Adding Value 

In the beginning Gnodal made full use of all of the workshops and services available at SETsquared. There is always a degree of commercial sensitivity inherent when industry leading designers go it alone – the team needed to make sure they were completely IP and patent ‘clean’ before the designers could even open a file to begin. SETsquared provided the safe environment for that. They attended IP workshops and SETsquared’s IP lawyers were on hand to discuss their complex issues and come up with a watertight plan.  

In the meantime with SETsquared’s support, Gnodal was starting up ‘under the wire’, taking the time they needed to research their markets and find the funding to build their world beating products.  

Pitch perfect

After their first pitch to a group of VCs the team were shell shocked so with SETsquared’s business mentor Greville Commins they developed a high quality pitch and practiced it until it was perfect for the next battle. 

Nick Sturge and Greville knew who to introduce them to for ‘off the record’ advice and Fred was impressed by the SETsquared team’s deep commitment to helping them progress.  In a worsening economic climate they were forced to reshape their business plan and go after the £600k they needed to start to develop and test the market for their product, and trust that the serious money would be secured by the time they were ready to press the button on full development.  

In February 2008 one of their ‘big hitter’ advisers stepped in to rescue a failing bid, turning their fortunes on his personal dime and they secured £1.1m. The seed funding was enough for them to make job offers, file patents and start designing.   

SETsquared Accelerating Growth 

From the start it made sense to take on a desk in a shared office at the Bristol centre. Being able to meet regularly and work on their business plans helped the team stay focused and removed some of the cost barriers to starting-up. By January 2008 they had quit their jobs and taken on more desks at SETsquared. 

Hard work and miracles

SETsquared introduced the Gnodal team to expert advisors, their chairman and their book-keeper and gave them the space to grow, develop their business plan and hone their funding pitch. Fred estimates they made around 200 pitches in the next year and in the end their hard work paid off and unusually, Dawn Capital called t he m up and invited them to pitch. They secured £6.05m and graduated from SETsquared, fully equipped to deal with their next business challenges. 

‘We were able to put a banner down, develop an esprit de corps and work as a team to create our company and when we were ready to expand SETsquared continued to provide us with excellent value for money accommodation and savvy advice’.  

SETsquared continues to support Gnodal as an Alumni member.