13 April 2012
CARY, N.C.–Michael Pena left his job at NXP Semiconductors to pursue a dream of building his own company. He calls the experience so far "not without great challenges, but the most fun I've had in years."
He chose to tackle one of the most challenging issues in lighting today: How to turn the highly practical but eye-straining world of flourescent lighting tubes over to the LED.
While at Philips and NXP, he spent most of his career within the Mobile & Personal group, leading engineering teams. In some cases, his teams shrunk the semiconductor chip content of mobile phones from more than 300 components down to 15.
"I've found the LED lighting industry to be in a similar point in its evolution as I was in the mobile phone industry back in the early '90s. I didn't want to lose the chance to be part of a great ride."
He's doing that ride with the help of local manufacturers, supply chain providers and metal benders all in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, far from the LED hot beds of Eindhoven, Silicon Valley or the Northeast.
Pena talked to us about his technology, the cost and design tradeoffs and how he leverages a supply chain to make a small company work: