DFJ-CISCO contest seeks Indian startups

Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) is back with a new business plan contest, a global one in collaboration with Cisco Systems (CISCO), called the DFJ-CISCO Global Business Plan Competition. 16 finalists will be chosen from 10-12 countries and the winner will take home $250,000 in seed stage funding.

The contest is specifically aimed at aspiring student entrepreneurs. The last date for submission of applications is June 12. Local DFJ representatives — Sateesh Andra and Mohanjit Jolly in India — will reach out to university departments to collect business plans. After the necessary due diligence, the representatives of each region will nominate 1-4 business plans for consideration in the finals. The finalists will be notified by June 19. The winner will be announced on June 30. A runner up may also be announced but will not automatically qualify for financing. Complete details here.


  • Teams must comprise of one or more people. Three quarters of the presenting team members must be students.
  • Student (s) must hold a key leadership role in the formation and operation of the business.
  • Student teams may compete only once.
  • Teams that have already formed entities that have accepted a preferred equity investment from an institutional investor or have received more than $500,000 in financing may not apply.
  • Student teams are encouraged to seek faculty support. However, faculty support is not a requisite.
  • The judges will be representatives from DFJ, the DFJ Network and CISCO. The same persons will judge all teams throughout the day.
  • DFJ and CISCO will consider management, addressable market size, competitive positioning, barriers, capital efficiency, financial projections, and achievements to date in selecting participants and winners.

The last time DFJ had a business plan contest open to Indian entrepreneurs was in 2006 when it collaborated with TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) to host the TiE-DFJ India Venture Challenge. The contest gave away $150,000 to two winners, Vegayan Systems and NCE Technologies.

DFJ India partner Andra, who plays a pivotal role in taking the current contest to Indian startups, is looking forward to discovering both business model and technology innovation through the contest. The primary purpose of the prize money is to “enable the startup to pursue the idea,” Andra said, over telephone from Hyderabad. “The goal is not to value these companies now. The prize money will be given in lieu of convertible notes, which will be converted into equity if the startup does manage to raise institutional funding later,” he said.

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  1. Priya Rao says:

    Hi – I read about the 4 finalists from Singapore – was curious to know if all the 16 finalists of the contest have been announced as yet – if so then would it be possible to see who those are?