Tuesday, July 8, 2003
Interview with Jay Chen, CEO of GigaFast
My interview today is with Jay Chen, CEO of City of Industry-based GigaFast (www.gigafast.com). I thought it would be interesting to hear about one of the many tech companies which straddle their operations between Los Angeles and a foreign country.
BK: Tell me a little bit about GigaFast -- what kind of products does your company manufacture?
JC: GigaFast is a premier manufacturer of networking products catering mainly to the SOHO and SMB markets. Our product line includes 10/100 ethernet products, wireless networking products and homeplug powerline products. We also provide routers as well as VDSL hardware.
BK: How do you sell your products, and what are your primary channels?
JC: GigaFast products are sold through both distribution and retail channels. Our primary channels include: Ingram Micro, Micro Center, Fry's, PC Club, TigerDirect, etc. Besides selling GigaFast branded products, we also do a lot of OEM business for other brands.
BK: How long has your company been around, and how is it funded?
JC: GigaFast US has been around for 5 years and is privately-owned corporation.
BK: I see you have offices here in LA, Taipei, and in China -- what do each of your offices do, and where is your R&D conducted?
JC: The Los Angeles office primarily acts as a sales and marketing office for the U.S. and Canadian market. As far as manufacturing goes, we have facilities in both Taiwan and China. However, R&D is done in our Taiwan office.
BK: How did Gigafast decide to locate its US offices in the City of Industry?
JC: City of Industry is located in an area where many wholesalers are located locally and is a short drive to the developing tech area in Irvine.
BK: What are the challenges with running a company with split operations in the US and Taiwan?
JC: Communication is a key issue. Keeping both sides on the same page. Taiwan starts work pretty much when we get off and it is very difficult to keep both sides heading in the same direction. Marketing and Sales in the US might want to promote a product Engineering isn't prioritizing. We dedicate a lot of resources to maintaining this bridge of communications through constant and daily contact between the offices.
BK: What do you feel are advantages/disadvantages of conducting R&D in Taiwan?
JC: R&D Engineers are less expensive and more effective in Taiwan. Since manufacturing of the products occur in Asia, local R&D personnel are vital to obtaining and effectively using local sourced parts and components used in keeping our products at low competitive pricing. Engineer salaries and hours are also better maintained working along side production managers and assembly personnel to familiarize them with the manufacturing process so it can be incorporated into design.
BK: Finally, what do you think distinguishes your company from the many others in the SOHO LAN space?
JC: GigaFast is the only direct manufacturer with retail experience and knowledge leading to better retail products. Most manufacturers and brand names such as Linksys or Netgear are divided and the brand names contract local manufacturers to work on products for them. GigaFast is able to manufacture a complete product line into its own brand name offering engineering knowledge all the way down to consumer technical support. In addition, GigaFast is able to quickly engineer and promote superior products and technologies such as HomePlug.