The ‘Corporate Innovation’ space is booming across the globe and more so in India, with startups powering the open innovation strategies of large firms including Cisco. Cisco LaunchPad, the accelerator programme of the global networking giant, was launched in India in 2016, where it brings together technologies, startups, and the partner community to deliver business-relevant digital solutions.
At the recently concluded Cisco India Summit in Kochi, Pankaj Mitra, Investments Director, Cisco shared his insights on trends, emerging markets, and Cisco’s role in giving back to the ecosystem. "Our engineering team runs an accelerator program called Cisco LaunchPad where Cisco doesn't take any equity. We offer technical mentorship, sales mentorship, and help them connect to customers. It’s our way of giving back to the ecosystem," he said.
Cisco LaunchPad is a Cisco India – Startup ecosystem outreach initiative aimed at co-creating solutions for the next wave of internet users. Cisco LaunchPad focuses on technology areas like collaboration, security, IoT/IoE, and enterprise tech - network and infra. Earlier this year, Cisco had announced the names of the startups in the fifth cohort of Cisco LaunchPad. The cohort focused on growth-stage B2B tech startups working in the above-mentioned focus areas.
As part of the programme, the startups are immersed in comprehensive mentorship and connects with experts from Silicon Valley, Cisco’s founders' forum, tech evangelists, investment team and sales/GTM team. Mature startups get access to opportunities to pilot/co-develop solutions together and move in the direction of joint GTM along with Cisco. That's not all. Startups get to showcase their products/innovations at premier events across the globe such as Cisco Live, TiE Global summit, etc. They work with Cisco technologies at the world-class co-working space in the Cisco campus and are also connected with angel investors and venture capitalists to tap new opportunities.
Krishna Sundaresan, VP Engineering, Cisco Systems says, “The goal of Cisco LaunchPad is to engage with the startup ecosystem and solve the right problems for the market and build the solutions. At Cisco LaunchPad, what we bring to the table is sales expertise to take the startups to the market as well as engineering core competency on product scaling and deployment in the form of mentorship.”
“Cisco LaunchPad is about being the ‘Bridge to Possible’ for startups. It’s about using technology to build a better world around us,” adds Sruthi Kannan, Program Head, Cisco LaunchPad.
Following their association with Cisco LaunchPad, several of the startups have gone on to enjoy significant success.
Qunu Labs (Cohort 4), is a quantum security technology company that offers solutions and products to provide hack-proof data security. The company was looking for a good system to finetune their product and value proposition, and the integration with Cisco helped them position themselves better in the market and improve product development. "We were in the deep tech and futuristic technology space and didn't have much validation.
ZestIot (Cohort 4) helps airlines and airports improve on-time performance of flights. Amit Sukhija, Founder and CEO, ZestIot says Cisco LaunchPad is a mature programme that provides great pilot opportunities for startups. Cisco and ZestIot have been able to go to market jointly and successfully close an agreement with a leading Indian airport with a global outlook. "The excellent mentorship from Cisco leadership team enabled us to get a joint go-to-market opportunity for our first pilot customer. All the products and technology provided by Cisco is transformative to the airport, especially at the rate of India's growth," he says.
MishiPay (Cohort 2), a retail technology startup founded by Mustafa Khanwala and Tanvi Bhardwaj in 2015 empowers shoppers to self-checkout on their phones, without having to queue up at cash counters. By using RFID and cloud computing, MishiPay claims to be combining point-of-sale payments with security and inventory management. Their engagement with Cisco helped the startup deploy its product in the Cisco Global Executive Briefing Centre in San Jose, which eventually led to a partnership with Cisco at their booth in the National Retail Federation (NRF). MishiPay is also live at the Cisco Store in San Jose. All of this has been instrumental in enabling the startup to engage with some of the biggest retailers in the US and Europe.
Speaking about the way forward, Pradeep Kathail, Chief Network Architect, Cisco Systems says, “Our focus is going to continue to be deep tech startups and the message to startups has always been the same. We want to build a partnership and do the right things with the startups. We will see the development and impact in the long term.”
Meet the Startups
The eight startups currently part of the fifth cohort of Cisco LaunchPad are: Yellow Messenger, Deepfence, CRON Systems, Cloudphysician, UTORA, Tagvance, Orbo.ai and Enmovil.
As a testimony to the programme’s success, the Showcase Day for the fifth cohort will be held on September 4, 2019. Click here to register and participate at the event.