Playing matchmaker isn’t typically considered a key to bolstering innovation, but for Cisco Investments, we see this as key to helping our portfolio grow. At Cisco Live Orlando, we shared how creating a conversation between our portfolio and Cisco’s customers and partners can foster innovation. By enabling our entrepreneurs to share their passion for technology, we create a win-win situation – our startups solve our customers’ and partners’ most pressing problems, and our customers stay on top of cutting edge technology and market trends.
Our collaborative nature directly stems from our investment strategy. Head of Corporate Development and Cisco Investments Rob Salvagno described this foundation during his Innovation Showcase “Driving Innovation through Acquisitions and Investments.” The five pillars—build, buy, partner, invest and co-develop—guide Cisco’s innovation strategy. Invest, as a key pillar, allows us to get access to innovative startups that are shaping the future in Cisco’s core businesses, its adjacencies and beyond.
During my Think Tank panel, “How Disruptive Innovation Drives Impact” with Mike Silvey, Executive Vice President and co-founder of Moogsoft, and Guru Chahal, VP of Product at Avi Networks, we shared with the audience how together we drive value to our customers and partners. Chahal noted that in the Cisco environment, “No product is an island. … Every product talks to another product.” This is true in today’s environment where there are so many tools and services that are used daily but our commitment to providing integrated solutions with existing Cisco technology ensures that startup investments are delivering innovative solutions and value for customers in the Cisco ecosystem.
Along those same veins, Cohesity’s COO Rob Salmon and Duo’s Vice President of Product Ash Devata also elaborated on that highly integrative partnership during their Backstage Pass interviews. For example, Cohesity has integrated not only their technology in Cisco’s HyperFlex and UCS platforms but partnered with us in a joint sales campaign—we’re out there winning customers together on a regular basis thanks to that partnership – with a strong solution to a pressing problem.
As much as we enjoyed conveying how our startups and Cisco customers make a good match, we did more than talk about our highly integrative partnerships—we also “walked the talk” by setting up 67 tours introducing highly ranked individuals from Cisco customers, partners and Cisco executives to our 22 startups that were presenting at the Cisco Investments Village. These startups were able to demonstrate their breadth of solutions in the areas of Data Center, Collaboration, IoT, Networking, Security, and Data and Analytics. As a result of these introductions, our startups made meaningful connections with customers like athletic retailer Under Armour and utilities giant PG&E.
Shadi Baqleh, CRO of Voicera, noted, “Having your teams personally walk over customers, partners, and internal Cisco leaders was extremely successful and important. The relationships you helped us foster were incredible – thank you!”
This growing interest also reflects why corporate venture capital is a topic resonating beyond the investment community. Contributors from the Cisco Champions program attended many of the 43 presentations featuring our startups. These tech enthusiasts with a large social following are knowledgeable about Cisco products and technologies, readily sharing their insights through blogs and podcasts.
“It was clear that Cisco Investments is looking for companies and teams who have a real passion for what they are doing,” Cisco Champ Joel Sprague remarked after conducting a podcast interview with Cohesity. “Simply having a great product or the early jump on a new market isn’t enough. The Cisco Investments team was there to provide capital, yes, but they also were giving the startups access to the business units and experience that Cisco has in the tech field.”
It’s clear that Cisco Live is an awe-inspiring experience, but the insights shared at the conference weren’t just for those in attendance. The startups participated in interviews with “Unscripted,” Cisco’s new podcast series hosted by Robb Boyd of Cisco’s webcast TechWiseTV – a high caliber persona with a huge distribution and following. Several Cisco Investment portfolio companies in various architectures were interviewed—Stratoscale, Duo, Cohesity, Dremio, Dynamic Signal, and Voicera—for their insights into the latest trends and market shifts.
“There were a lot of great conversations on site; everyone was fantastic, and I’m excited to share their stories in upcoming podcasts,” Robb said of the experience.
Innovation is truly global, and that’s why the energetic and collaborative atmosphere of Cisco Live conferences makes it the perfect setting for our startups to demonstrate their unique solutions to solving complex problems. The matchmaking doesn’t stop at Cisco Live, be it with podcasts, theatre sessions to facilitating introductions with executives and tech influencers. It is our mission to bring value to everyone – to bring innovation to our customers and our partners, and always put our portfolio first. Because when everyone works together on innovation – everyone benefits.
About the author: Hitesh Saijpal leads the Cisco Investments Portfolio Development team whose primary goal is to deliver differentiated value to the portfolio companies by leveraging Cisco’s go-to-market and product development eco-system.