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Meet Matt Crowley of Vesper in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Crowley.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in a family where my father and grandfathers were all small business owners and I absorbed a lot of business lessons from early on and was always interested in running a company myself. I also had an interest in science and technology and went to Princeton where I received an interdisciplinary degree in physics and philosophy of science. In 1999, I went to Boston University to work in their venture capital investment and company creation group. As Director of Boston University’s Office of Technology Development, I wore several interesting hats including; 1) lead investments in top tier venture capital funds focused on early stage technology; 2) managed an internal venture capital fund that co-invested with larger VCs and lead investments in BU spinouts 3) worked with professors and students to create and fund new companies based on their inventions. This was a fun job where I learned all about investors, startups, university tech transfer and how to bring breakthrough technologies to market.

In 2007, I became Founder and VP Business Development of Sand 9, a BU spinout, where I pioneered the development of piezoelectric MEMS for mobile timing. In addition to founding the company and building the founding team, at Sand 9 I raised >$50 million in capital and lead partnerships with industry leaders including Intel, Ericsson, CSR, Analog Devices and many others. I also filed a few granted patents.

In 2014, I began thinking about the coming voice interface revolution and I began to search for thought leaders in the use of piezoelectric MEMS in the microphone market. I came across Bobby Littrell’s research and was hugely impressed. Littrell developed Vesper’s piezoelectric-acoustic MEMS transducer design based on his PhD thesis at the University of Michigan. I reached out to him and since 2014, I’ve served as CEO of Vesper, the leader in piezoelectric microphones and acoustic sensors for the smartphone and IoT markets.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It wasn’t always an easy road, since developing a new MEMS device with a novel material is an incredibly challenging technology development and I was expecting a lot of speed bumps on our journey. The team hit a setback in early 2015 when we found that the process controls available at our manufacturer weren’t good enough to achieve high yields and it would take another 1.5 years to fix. This frustration was not a problem we could solve on our own and we had to work closely with our semiconductor foundry and semiconductor equipment companies to get a manufacturable process, which we ultimately did. This was a great example of teamwork, partnership and perseverance to overcome a daunting technical hurdle.

Please tell us about Vesper.
Vesper, developer of the world’s most advanced piezoelectric sensors, is a privately held advanced sensor company based in Boston. With origins at the University of Michigan, Vesper’s award-winning microphones are driving a new era of pervasive voice interfaces and acoustic event-detection products via a proprietary piezoelectric MEMS technology.

Vesper offers the first MEMS microphones that withstand real-world use in smartphones and other connected devices. Vesper’s are the only MEMS microphones rugged enough to withstand water, oil, beer, dust and particle contaminants. They’re high-performance and enable acoustically rich experiences for any application — from smartphones and wearable’s to Internet of Things (IoT) devices and connected automobiles. They make batteries last longer than current capacitive microphones (yes, the ones in your existing smart speaker) due to its ZeroPower Listening, since it consumes virtually no power until turned on via a wake-word like ‘Alexa,’ unlike any existing product on the market. We’ve raised $40M in venture funding to date from investors such as Accomplice and Hyperplane in MA and Amazon’s Alexa Fund, Baidu and Bose.

We’re most proud of the cutting-edge quality and durability of our piezoelectric microphones and sensors, since they’re the best on the market. Our products are unique, and we are the only piezoelectric MEMS microphone company in the world.

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