SAN JOSE, Calif., July 1, 2009 – Leading global venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and Cisco today announced Husk Power Systems as the winner of their first co-sponsored Global Business Plan Competition for university and business school students. Husk Power Systems designs and operates miniature power plants that convert rice husks into electricity, serving off-grid rural Indian villages. The team will receive a $250,000 investment from DFJ and Cisco to help take the company to the next stage.
This is the first time the competition was aimed at a global market and hosted in six countries, a milestone made possible by both DFJ's Global Network and TM. Cisco TelePresence enables live, face-to-face collaboration through a set of advanced technologies and seamless network communications experience. Sixteen finalist teams across the globe presented business plans from their local TelePresence suite to a panel of San Jose-based judges composed of venture capitalists from DFJ and its Global Network Funds and executives from Cisco's Corporate Development team.
"Our mission at DFJ is to help entrepreneurs change the world. With this competition, we certainly witnessed that entrepreneurship has no borders, and we look forward to expanding it to even more universities worldwide next year," said Tim Draper, managing director, DFJ. "Deciding on just one winner was difficult, especially with this caliber of candidates. We are excited to have chosen Husk Power Systems, which is especially remarkable for its alternative power technology, and we can't wait to see how this team becomes the next game changer."
"This competition demonstrates the tremendous power of collaboration through Cisco TelePresence," said Hilton Romanski, vice president of corporate development for Cisco. "We were able to bring together 16 talented teams from 15 separate schools in six different countries, all in the course of a normal business day. It was exciting to hear from this diverse and visionary group of global entrepreneurs and to learn about their business plans. Given Cisco's focus on emerging countries and the use of innovative technology to provide enhanced essential services, Cisco's investment in Husk Power Systems is a great way for us to accelerate these themes."
The presenting members of the Husk Power Systems team were University of Virginia, Darden School of Business 2009 graduates Chip Ransler and Manoj Sinha. The team started their company in India in 2007.
"We're honored to receive this recognition and opportunity, especially considering the level of competition," said Chip Ransler, chief strategy officer, Husk Power Systems. "We look forward to working with the investment professionals at Cisco and the DFJ Global Network to make Husk Power Systems a pioneer in providing electricity to rural villages in India."
Finalists in the competition were selected and evaluated in the same way that venture capitalists evaluate start-ups. For each company, the judges considered the management teams, addressable market size, competitive positioning, barriers, capital efficiency, and financial projections. In addition to the financial investment awarded to the winner, both DFJ and Cisco will continue to work with the winner and other finalists in leading the next wave of disruptive technologies by providing mentorship and professional assessments regarding their submissions.
Please contact Marta Bulaich at DFJ to see a webcast of the competition.