Monday, July 6, 2009

Rice Husks Company Seeded By DFJ, Cisco In Business Plan Contest

From the WSJ's Venture Capital Dispatch:

After reviewing the business plans of more than 1,000 unknown start-up companies, venture firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson – joined this year by tech giant Cisco Systems Inc. – has awarded a seed round of $250,000 to Husk Power Systems Inc., a company that turns rice husks into energy and is already powering 27 small towns in rural India.

“The most amazing thing is that this seed money will probably be enough to generate 10 new power plants,” said DFJ founder Tim Draper. “This is something that can help a whole society – and we think it will be a money-maker too.”

DFJ has for years held a competition among very early-stage companies, awarding a seed round to the one with the most compelling business plan. This year, the firm partnered with Cisco, in part because Cisco’s next-generation video-conferencing software enabled the firm to open up the contest for the first time to global entrants – and without paying for airfare.

Husk Power Systems’ technology – which converts rice husks into methane gas to run small power plants – came out of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. The company is focused entirely on rural India for the moment, Draper said, where hundreds of millions of people have little or no access to power....MORE