Movandi: 5G Within Our Grasp
May 12, 2020 | Scott Murphy
5G has become synonymous with the next wave of wireless networking, promising to deliver faster, higher-quality video and multimedia content and services. Telecom giants like Verizon and AT&T have taken significant steps to spearhead the charge by investing significant capital into purchasing 5G spectrum, including so called millimeter (mm) wave spectrum, and building the required infrastructure to support a rollout. This wireless spectrum is the band between 30 GHz and 300 GHz, higher than the band used for current applications, and it can be used for high-speed wireless communications. We believe, along with other organizations, the FCC, and researchers, that mm wave spectrum is the band of spectrum best suited to bring 5G into the present.
The Road to 5G
A common challenge for mm wave deployments is that the higher mm band frequency waves need line-of-sight within a small radius to achieve a network connection. This also entails shorter wavelengths — reducing the distance that 5G can carry a useful signal and causing difficulty in penetrating buildings. Movandi, an AVG portfolio company and a deal accessed by our Triphammer Ventures fund for the Cornell community, has developed an innovative technology for 5G mm wave deployments that removes many of these perceived barriers to the adoption of 5G wireless technology. Their chipset, coupled with software, will go into repeaters and routers, as well as other mobile network hardware, to aid in the adoption and rollout of 5G in urban areas. Their technology seeks to eliminate the challenges of 5G connectivity while delivering greater speed, signal range, and reduced cost and power consumption for major telecom providers.
Building on a Foundation of Innovation
Movandi was co-founded in 2016 by repeat female tech entrepreneur Maryam Rofougaran, along with her team from Innovent Systems. Innovent Systems began in 1998 as a manufacturer of radio-frequency integrated circuits for short-range wireless data communications. The company was sold to Broadcom in 2000 for nearly $500M. The core team stayed at Broadcom for 15+ years as senior executives, building out Broadcom’s entire wireless business before departing to form Movandi. Since then, Movandi has been featured as one of CNBC’s 2019 Upstart 100 as well as Inc.’s 2020 Innovative Startups to Watch.
5G will provide speeds faster than any previous generation of wireless technology systems, comparable to those delivered via fiber-optic cables. This is a game-changing technology that could have a large impact across the entire world’s wireless evolution. Despite the current market conditions, major carriers remain committed to a 5G rollout, especially in light of the growing need for wireless connectivity to support increased telecommuting and digital learning. Verizon in particular has stated that they plan to spend $17.5 – 18.5B in infrastructure in 2020, in order to accelerate the company’s transition to 5G and help support the economy during this period of disruption.
Alumni Ventures Group deployed capital in Movandi’s Series C funding round co-led by Cota Capital and WRVI Capital (Walden Venture Capital). Our participation was led by Triphammer Ventures (for Cornell alumni and friends) and included Strawberry Creek Ventures (for UC Berkeley alumni and friends), Yard Ventures (for Harvard alumni and friends), AVG’s Women’s Fund, and AVG’s Total Access Fund. Other co-investors included DNX Ventures, and Sierra Ventures, among others.