Author: Tomer Goldberg and Walter Hu
As one of the most active investors in corporate venture capital, Cisco Investments maintains partnerships with aggressive and forward thinking VCs to broaden our view of technology and tap into markets and geographies we can’t normally reach. We helped to organize a start-up / entrepreneur pitch day event titled “Calling All Entrepreneurs” with Bull City Venture Partners (BCVP), in Durham, North Carolina. BCVP is a key partner that helps us stay informed and active in the Greater Carolinas region start-up community. The event was held in downtown Durham, next to the Durham Bulls baseball stadium, in an area where the buildings have transformed from tobacco factories to tiny retail store like offices, and is home to hundreds of start-ups based there.
Our hosts, General Partners of BCVP (Jason Caplain and David Jones), along with 7 Cisco senior executives based in Research Triangle Park (Ed Paradise, VP of Engineering and Janet Ramey, SVP of Employee Services, to name a couple), saw pitches from 15 start-ups, across Internet-of-Things, Security, Analytics, and Silicon. They gave feedback on the pitches and discussed their views on each start-up’s viability and “invest-ability”.
As a sample of some companies and personalities we met…Heidi Messer from Collective[i] showed us her take on using AI to revolutionize CRM by perfectly capturing most people’s frustration with SFDC. Robbie Allen from AutomatedInsights talked about how his Wordsmith product is automating “explanation of data” by taking raw data and spitting out stories in natural language. Tony Atti from Phononic, passed around samples of their solid state CPU cooling modules that will allow development of even smaller and faster chips.
As a result of this event, several of the companies are engaged in discussions with Cisco and are under consideration for investment. Events like this enable Cisco and our VC partners to have a keen eye on disruptive technologies, in a forum where we can discuss and debate their relevancy to our mutual markets.