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50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2017

BUILDING THE “THINGS” THAT WILL DRIVE THE INTERNET OF THINGS Gumstix, Inc.

thesiliconreview-w-gordon-kruberg-president-ceo-gumstix-inc-2017“Gumstix Geppetto does for IoT devices what the iPhone did for cell phones: Completely change the game.” 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is everyone’s “Next Big Thing.” It’s estimated that by 2020, over 30 billion very small embedded devices will connect pretty much everything with everything, from heart monitors to refrigerators to things in the cloud and beyond. 

But there is currently a massive pain point for the people (often called “Makers”) inventing the products of our future and the way these products actually get created. Traditional electronic device creation requires significant electrical engineering, operating system development, documentation, QA, and procurement resources, all adding up to major time and expense. Said another way, the process is ripe for innovation. 

Gumstix, Inc., a private company that pioneered the first Linux IoT device back in 2003, has created tech that can once again advance modern electronics. Its cloud-based technology, Geppetto® Design-To-Order, creates electronic devices 10-20x faster, cheaper, and easier than the traditional process. All production quality. Delivered in 15 days. All drag & drop simple. 

Getting From There To Here

As is often the case with innovation, the Geppetto technology grew out of Gumstix’s need to solve its own problems. As a small embedded systems company headquartered in Redwood City, California, Gumstix’s original innovation, the COM - Computer On Module - quickly attracted the attention of the giant semiconductor companies in the industry such as Intel, TI, and NXP. The company knew the only way to stay in business was to automate absolutely everything they did. “When it came to creating custom embedded systems, we knew we couldn’t outspend the big guys, so we instead adopted a relentless focus on creating technology to automate the heavy lifting, which in our case, turned out to be almost everything we did,” said Dr. W. Gordon Kruberg, founder and CEO of Gumstix. 

Initially the company focused on the primary task at hand: Designing embedded systems.

To create a competitive edge, Gumstix engineers automated their internal design and manufacturing processes to reduce factors like time, errors, and cost for the electronic hardware created for their customers. But something was still amiss. “We were sitting around one day, congratulating ourselves on how terrific our internal systems were, and then it hit us: Why try to figure out the customers’ needs, when they can create exactly what they need by themselves?” said Kruberg. So in 2013, Geppetto, a cloud-based, self-service shop, where anyone, even non-engineers, can create, order, and produce production-quality electronic and IoT devices, was born. 

Competitors Become Partners

Three years later, Gumstix expanded the choice of microprocessors from Gumstix exclusive products to include competing hardware manufacturers such as BeagleBone, Intel, Raspberry Pi, TechNexion, Toradex, and Critical Link. Thus, by expanding this design-to-order platform with multiple processors, the company was successful in creating a game-changing path-to-production for all engineers and makers across the Industrial and emerging IoT markets. 

But what happens after a board is made?

No one in the hardware business really focused on what happened after the hardware was manufactured. That was yet another opportunity to innovate for Gumstix. Geppetto automates the configuration and testing of the operating systems for these new designs so that a device would boot upon delivery, unheard of in the industry. Geppetto even automates the creation of documentation so that programmers fully understand how to program for their newly created custom device. 

Just In Time For The Next 20 Billion IoT Devices To Be Created

Fast forward and here we are at the edge of the IoT revolution. The only way to keep up with IoT demand is to use technology to create technology, and that’s Geppetto. Once the domain of expert electrical engineers, Geppetto lets anyone - even non engineers - create IoT devices for health, robotics, drones, communications, entertainment, recreation, space, and industrial applications, and whatever else anyone would like to invent. Says Kruberg, “We all know about the Internet of Things. Geppetto is the technology that builds the ‘Things’ in the Internet of Things.”

That’s quite an innovation from the company that started it all. 

Keeping Up With The Key Executive

W.Gordon Kruberg has been the President and CEO since the founding Gumstix in October 2003. To date, the company has been the heart of underwater, ground, air, and space electronic developments cited in over 100 patents in these areas. Gumstix helps engineers, industrial designers, students, educators, and makers unlock their creative ideas to bring them to market. With over 20,000 diverse customers, the company’s systems have launched some of the world’s coolest products from phones to drones on commercial, university, and hobbyist workbenches in over 50 countries around the world.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Kruberg has been involved in over thirty US-based companies as a venture investor, member of the board of directors or executive team (including Chairman, CEO, or President). Immediately prior to founding Gumstix, Gordon was CEO of Deersoft, acquired by Network Associates (NASD: INTC) in December 2002. His background includes eight years with Grace Horn Ventures, managing investments in software, biotechnology and medical high-technology startups. Gordon holds an A.B. degree in Human Biology, a M.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University and an M.D. degree from Northwestern University.

“Our overriding mission has always been to provide our customers the fastest and most cost effective path-to-prototyping-to-production for their innovations.”

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