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Databeans building a name for its expertise

John Seelmeyer

It was a mere 53-word snippet in a news

release from technology giant National

Semiconductor a few days ago.

But to Renobased

Databeans

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

industry.

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

reports.

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

executives.

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

gear.

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

issue.

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

back sharply.

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

held steady.

“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

life.