It was a mere 53-word snippet in a news
release from technology giant National
Semiconductor a few days ago.
But to Renobased
Inc., those 53
words were a treasure,
one more step
down the road to
wider recognition of
the company's expertise.
Wider recognition, in turn, is the key to
revenue growth at tiny Databeans, where
analyst Susie Inouye gathers and analyzes
market data from the high-technology
But not just any old high-technology.
Inouye specializes in analysis of the markets
for devices that use analog integrated circuits.
(In an analog circuit, the electric or
voltage can vary - much like the volume on
a radio. Digital circuits, on the other hand,
have only two levels on or off.)
One recent research report from
Databeans, for instance, looks at the market
for voltage regulators; another examines
competition and demand for data converters.
Reports on analog circuits certainly comprise
a niche market. Most of Databeans'
competitors Dataquest is perhaps the
best-known name focus on analysis of
the much-bigger markets for digital circuits.
If the big market analysis firms examine
the analog market at all, they generally do
so as a footnote to a report about the much
larger marketplace for digital circuits.
"We take a much more granular look,"
Inouye said last week.
A niche market, however, isn't necessarily
a small market.
National Semiconductor and Analog
Devices are among the subscribers for
Databeans' $15,000-a-year reports on the
analog market.Other giants of the business
such as Texas Instruments also turn to
Databeans for regular reporting or customized
But Gary Inouye, who handles the business
side of Databeans while his wife
crunches the numbers and writes the
reports, works hard to get the company's
work in front of even more technology
He sends out press releases. He makes
sure trade publications know about recent
Databeans research. He looks for every
opportunity for his wife to be quoted.
"If people see your name often enough,
they'll begin thinking of you as a provider
of this information," he said.
One victory in the battle for exposure
came earlier this month, when National
Semiconductor included comments from
Susie Inouye in a press release announcing
the introduction of a new microphone technology
for use in wireless communications
Every battle is important for Databeans,
which the Inouyes run from an office in
their south-Reno home.
Susie Inouye, trained as an economist,
worked for companies in Silicon Valley
before she decided to strike out on her own
as market analyst in 1999.
The information Databeans reports
comes from a variety of sources surveys
of manufacturers and their customers,
reports published by industry associations,
data disclosed by publicly held companies.
No matter what the source, Susie Inouye
said she strives to keep herself a step
removed from the euphoria-and-despair
cycles that beset investment firms and other
followers of the technology industry.
"I want to keep a realistic focus and look
at what actually transpired," she said. "It
keeps me grounded."
Even as the couple was launching the
firm, they knew they wanted to get away
from high-priced, high-hassle San Jose.
In 2000, they came to Reno, attracted by
the state's business-friendly environment as
well as their ability to find a better lifestyle
for their family. Much of their business is
conducted electronically Databean's customers
are located anywhere from Silicon
Valley to Europe so location isn't a critical
The years the couple were building the
business, 1999 and 2000, were dramatically
bad years for suppliers to the technology
industry. Firms that once were willing to
buy market research on about ideas that
were little more than idle daydreams cut
The downturn meant Databeans' owners
needed to search harder for one-shot consulting
jobs, but the firm's core products
its subscription analysis of analog markets
"Companies still need to see certain
data," said Gary Inouye.
He said Databeans, which remained
profitable even through the darkest days of
the technology downturn, is beginning to
see signs that the industry is stirring back to