Raspberry Pi Foundation was founded in 2009 as a way to promote the study of basic computer science in schools. Their first product, Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized single-board computer created with the intention of stimulating the teaching of basic computer science in schools.
The charity is currently supported by the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory and Broadcom. I got the opportunity of speaking to one of the co-founders, who is also an employee of Broadcom.
Hi Eben, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
Good. In Vegas, which is always nice.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I spent a lot of the last fifteen years at the University Cambridge, first as an undergraduate, and then doing a PhD and an exec MBA. While I was doing the PhD, I taught a lot of undergraduates, and became worried about the decline in their level of knowledge at entry. For the past six years I've been working at Broadcom designing chips, one of which is used in Raspberry Pi. So Raspberry Pi is a coming together of these two strands of my life.
What made you decide to start the company?
A desire to increase the number of children learning to program.
What is Raspberry Pi?
A credit-card sized ARM GNU/Linux PC aimed at the education market.
Has your initial vision changed since launch?
Not really, though we’ve seen a lot more interest from hobbyists and the developing world than we had anticipated.
What has been the most challenging scaling issue you’ve come across?
Getting enough working capital to build the first 10k boards. Beyond that, we solved the scaling issue by moving to an IP licensing model.
What’s your business model?
We license our trademark and PCB design to two large UK plcs (Electrocomponents and Premier Farnell).
What are you most excited about at the moment?
A tie between 3d printing, white-space radio and commercial space travel.
What did Raspberry Pi do to gain traction?
Extensive social media work driven by my wife, Liz.
How have you been able to fund it?
Out of the pockets of our trustees. Total capital requirement was about £150k.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
Getting all the supplier and partner relationships in place.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Not being closer to launch at the point where we announced.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
Changing the business model from manufacturing to licensing.
What has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Signing the deals with our two manufacturing and distribution partners.
What should be expecting from yourself and Raspberry Pi for 2012?
Relentless focus on increasing the volume of units in the market.
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Don’t do it! Get a 9 to 5 job (Haha) Seriously:
- Listen to sceptics, but don’t be cowed by them.
- Choose your business partners carefully.
- Don’t hold on to your IP too tightly.