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6th place: Reveal Design Automation
6th place: Reveal Design Automation
From left: Matthew Neagle, Vimal Bhalodia, Zaher Andraus
School: University of Michigan
Business concept: A tool, more efficient than existing options, that semiconductor makers use to identify bugs in their chip designs
Judge's comment: "This is not a sexy idea, but it is a valuable and useful concept. With one product idea, there's a question about how they grow into a big company. They are well suited for an acquisition or some sort of licensing model."

Based on "pragmatic" and "modest" assumptions, Zaher Andraus says that his business should sell for $80 million in seven years. Such predictions can't be verified -- as founder Andraus surely appreciates. His Ph.D. thesis underlies Reveal Design Automation's software, which helps chipmakers catch design bugs faster and more efficiently. At least half the cost of making chips is in verifying that they match design specifications.

"We're solving a hard technical problem," says team member Vimal Bhalodia. But not fast enough for potential investors. "They ask, `If we give you $1 million -- twice what we are asking for now -- will that speed you up?' " says Bhalodia. "But no. That's just the nature of our industry."

Adds Andraus: "This is a tough business. But what we have got is more than an incremental improvement."


Last updated June 11 2010: 1:32 PM ET
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