Cisco | Kairos IoE Challenge Winners Visit Cisco Headquarters

Together with the Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) Program, the Kairos Society discovered six companies with young founders who are actively building out technologies and products that will shape the Internet of Everything (IoE). As winners of the Cisco | Kairos IoE Challenge, Crowsnest, FIXD, Foxtrot (K50 ‘14), Oxie (K50 ‘14), Trinity Mobile Networks and Wellinks (K50 ‘14) all flew out to San Francisco, where they met with top executives at Cisco Headquarters. These companies represented a diverse range of industries covering everything from automotive diagnostics and fleet logistics to software enabled wireless mesh networks, remote crash analytics for hardware manufactures and even compliance monitoring for physical therapy treatments.

The teams were welcomed by Tom Yoritaka, Managing Director of Cisco EIR and Edzard Overbeek, SVP Cisco Services. While 84% of internet traffic runs through their routers, modems and switches, Cisco acknowledges that in order to thrive in the emerging fields of IoE, Smart Cities, Big Data and Analytics, a global partner ecosystem is necessary. Through their EIR program, Cisco began by incubating six startups in Silicon Valley and has recently expanded the program to a combined 11 cohort companies across San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago and Europe. By collaborating closely with Cisco business and engineering groups, the startups are able to co-create solutions for Cisco’s vast network of customers and partners. With the ultimate goal of engraining open innovation into their corporate DNA, Cisco has continued to devote more resources to entrepreneurs who want to pursue joint customer opportunities while leveraging the best business and technology minds at Cisco.

After an introduction to Cisco EIR, the companies sat down with Mala Anand, SVP Cisco SPG, Jim Greene, CTO Cisco Data & Analytics, Pankaj Srivastava, VP Cisco Industry Solutions, Edzard and Tom for 1:1 Mentoring Sessions. For Stephen Hall from Trinity Mobile Networks these mentoring sessions proved to be invaluable, ”We’ve sometimes struggled over the past year to convey our company and its goals to investors, mentors, and even professors who didn’t understand or get excited about what we’re working on. Pitching to the [Cisco] Executives we really felt they understood the issues we’re trying to solve as a company instantly and provided some of the best validation and feedback we’ve gotten so far.”

Following the mentoring sessions, each company had 5 minutes to pitch their company to a panel of Cisco executives and business technology experts including Subu Subramanian, VP Cisco SPG, Kishore Kumar, CEO Nuviso, Jitendra Golani, Director Cisco Data & Analytics, and Pavan Singh, Head Cisco IoT Vertical Strategy.

After the pitch, each founder received 10 minutes of feedback from their team. Tal Azouri from Oxie was able to really connect with the Cisco experts by finding an opportunity “to collaboration within Cisco’s City Infrastructure Management Solutions” while “another top-level executive was keen to personally introduce Oxie to distribution channels that extended beyond Cisco’s network.”

Finally, founders from current Cisco EIR cohort companies took the stage. According to Ellen Su from Wellinks, “It was a pretty candid discussion, and it was great to get advice from more experienced startup founders.” Eugene Mazo, CEO DGLogik, Dennis Khvostionov, CTO DGLogik, Ken Forster, COO PLAT.ONE and Kishore Kumar all provided valuable insight into how startups and large enterprise companies can successfully work together and build lasting partnerships.

Overall, the experience provided valuable insight into how enterprise companies approach launching and scaling new products. Rachel Ford, COO of FIXD noted that “discussing the go-to-market strategy with Tom really helped to identify where our company needed to iron out details. We have used this feedback to further research and refine the strategy that we are taking to launch the product in the next few weeks.”

Mike Kruk from Crowsnest may have said it best, when he remarked that by opening up their company and sharing their executives time, “the Cisco Kairos IoE challenge acts as a fast track for teaching companies about B2B enterprise relationships - something that is near impossible to learn as quickly and effectively otherwise.”

Thank you again to the Cisco EIR team for continuing to support the next generation of young entrepreneurs. If you want to learn more about any of the winning companies, you can find interviews with all of them on our blog.

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