Ebullient Heats Up With $1M For Computer Cooling Tech

Ebullient has raised nearly $1 million in seed funds meant to jolt commercialization of the Madison, WI-based startup’s liquid cooling technology for computer equipment.

The company expects to close the $969,000 round of convertible debt by the end of the month, co-founder and CEO Tim Shedd says. Investors include the management team and wealthy individuals living in Wisconsin and outside the state, he says.

The company formed in 2013 to commercialize technology developed by Shedd, a University of Wisconsin-Madison mechanical engineering professor. He came up with an evaporation-based process for avoiding computer chip meltdowns that uses an air-conditioning liquid refrigerant that Ebullient says won’t damage electronics if it leaks. (Read more of the technical details in Xconomy’s profile from last year.)

The computer cooling standard for decades has been air-based, but a group of liquid systems have hit the market in recent years and are vying to become data center operators’ go-to solution. The pitch is that such technology could allow data center customers to install more servers in their racks while also saving energy and lowering their electric bill.

Ebullient has its work cut out as it tries to become a successful business. The company hasn’t signed up any customers, Shedd says, but is in promising talks with several potential local buyers. “We’re getting very good reception, but we’re a new technology, and we’re just working on the strategy to break through.” The company is also eyeing big data center operators and computer equipment manufacturers, Shedd says, which could give the business a boost.

The capital infusion should help it pick up some momentum. “This will give us at least a year of runway, and we feel that’s sufficient to make it to our Series A,” Shedd says. “Of course, that depends on how things play out.”

The money will be used for marketing expenses, research and development, and paying the company’s employees. Ebullient has a staff of seven, which could grow to around 10 this year, Shedd says.

The money will also fund licensing and patent fees. Ebullient has filed for provisional patents and intends to file around 25 more patent applications by the middle of the year, Shedd says. The company is also negotiating with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the UW-Madison patent arm, to license the patents that WARF holds related to the computer cooling technology Shedd developed on campus before the company was formed.

“We have a very aggressive IP strategy to really dominate this area,” Shedd says.

January 14th, 2015

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