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Nashville Q could lure Cisco innovation exec to tell all
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Cisco I-Prize leader David Hsieh
David Hsieh, the man who managed Cisco's massive I-Prize competition the past year or so, told VentureNashville during a recent interview he believes the innovation contest could be replicated in Nashville.

Moreover, if invited, Hsieh said he'd be glad to visit Nashville to report on the I-Prize process and provide advice on similar initiatives for Nashville or the state.

Hsieh, who is Cisco's senior director of marketing for emerging technology, jokingly told VNC that while he'd love to share Cisco's i-Prize lessons learned, he'd also like another chance to try Hog Heaven barbecue in Nashville.He explained that when he was here in March supporting Al Gore's involvement in a pro-environment satellite hookup staged in Cisco's Brentwood offices, he didn't have time to make it to Hog Heaven.

Cisco's I-Prize winners have been selected, but are in the process of being hired by Cisco, and so have not yet been identified publicly.

Hsieh said Cisco's 12 finalist teams included a total 40 persons, with team sizes ranging from 1 to 10, and with finalists teams' members drawn from 13 nations on five continents. A third of the finalist teams originated in the U.S.

At the beginning of the contest, there were nearly 2,500 persons from 104 nations, submitting 1,200 innovative ideas. Hsieh said Cisco spent "zero dollars" on marketing, but the effort nonetheless "created something of an innovators community."  Said Hsieh, "broadly speaking, we're very pleased with the results so far, and we very much expect that we will do [ the I-Prize contest ] again." 

Hsieh said Cisco knew that money, alone, would not attract the best ideas, so the notion of an opportunity for a leadership role in a newly launched Cisco venture became the carrot that allowed the company to "capture the entrepreneurial energy" of the entrants. Hsieh noted that prior to launching the I-Prize contest Cisco officials had spent a lot of time worrying about legal and human-resources issues that might arise. There were, however, no intellectual-property problems, no "work for hire" lawsuits, etc.

Prior to Cisco, Hsieh was a co-founder of FaceTime Communications, a leader in instant messaging solutions for large enterprises. Earlier, he was products VP for WebEx; entrepreneur-in-residence at Institutional Venture Partners (IVP); and, he held senior marketing roles with Sybase and LBMS. He's a graduate of Northwestern University. ♦

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