SAN JOSE, Calif., June 8, 2009 – Leading early-stage venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and Cisco today announced that each company will utilize its extensive global reach to jointly launch a global business plan competition for students aimed at fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. The competition will rely on Cisco TelePresenceTM, which enables collaboration through a live, face-to-face network communications experience, to allow finalists from around the world to present their business plans in real time to a joint panel of DFJ and Cisco executives based in San Jose.
This is the first time the competition is aimed at a global market, a milestone made possible by both DFJ's Global Network and Cisco TelePresence. Cisco TelePresence helps break down the barriers of distance by creating a collaborative experience where participants feel as though they are sitting in the same room even though they may be located thousands of miles apart. The competition seeks to find new technology-oriented ideas from aspiring college and university student entrepreneurs around the world. Sixteen finalists will be announced on June 19, 2009. The winner, who will be announced on June 30, 2009, will receive a minimum of $250,000 seed money. The winner will also receive professional feedback and mentorship from both DFJ and Cisco.
"For the past four years, DFJ has held only regional competitions. We are excited to partner with Cisco and expand this opportunity globally to include regions covered by our DFJ Global Network," said Tim Draper, managing director, DFJ. "Our 16 Global Network Partners are ideally positioned to host this type of competition, given our Network's unparalleled extensive reach to countries across four continents. We believe that technology has no borders and that there are talented entrepreneurs everywhere who want to change the world, and we look forward to partnering with them."
"Cisco is proud to partner with DFJ and to continue our long-standing strategy of investing globally in the innovation economy," said Hilton Romanski, vice president of corporate development at Cisco. "This is a unique and important competition, and one that underscores our commitment to support great ideas despite difficult markets and challenging fundraising conditions. Cisco's own roots, as a start-up in the early 1980s, help us appreciate that great companies are often founded in tough times. Cisco continues to believe in the potential and power of great ideas and entrepreneurs, and we look forward to utilizing Cisco TelePresence, our innovative and market-leading collaboration technology solution, to make this global competition possible."
Overall, Cisco has approximately $1.3 billion in venture capital investments under management and has been an early and active investor in major markets such as the U.S., China, India, Israel, Russia and Europe. Cisco is a strategic investor in start-ups and venture funds around the world and focuses on partnering with young, innovative companies.
Competition finalists will be selected on various criteria including the quality of the management team, technical innovation, addressable market size, competitive positioning, barriers, capital efficiency and financial projections. Click here to find out more about the competition. Prior business plan competitions have produced great successes, including DFJ-backed winners DirectHit, which was acquired by AskJeeves in 2000 for $532 million, and Webline Communications, acquired by Cisco for $325 million in 1999.
About Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Draper Fisher Jurvetson ("DFJ") backs extraordinary entrepreneurs everywhere who set out to change the world. DFJ achieves its mission through its DFJ Global Network of Partner Funds. Together, DFJ and the Network manage over $6B and have made more than 600 investments on four continents. With a 24-year history of success across diverse sectors and market conditions, DFJ has led the way investing in emerging technologies, from the Internet and life sciences to clean energy and nanotechnology. DFJ has been proud to back over 500 companies across many sectors including such industry changing successes such as Hotmail (acquired by MSFT), Baidu (BIDU), Skype (acquired by EBAY), United Online (UNTD), Overture (acquired by YHOO), Athenahealth (ATHN), EnerNOC (ENOC), TicketsNow (acquired by TicketMaster), Feedburner (acquired by Google), Interwoven (IWOV), Four11 (acquired by YHOO), Parametric (PMTC), and Digidesign (acquired by AVID).