March 21, 2012
China impact international mobile updates VC wireless

Updates from Volumes 1 & 2 of the Kauffman Fellows Report

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Jocelyn Brown and Impact Investing1

Since July 2011, the Impact Investors Special Interest Group (SIG) has been pleased to welcome new Fellows from the incoming class (Class 16), bringing us up to 71 members from 12 classes including 1 Mentor. We held two well-attended events this year, which for the first time were open to colleagues of Fellows with a particular interest in the area.

The event in September was a lively presentation from Morgan Simon of Toniic who spoke on “Best Practices and the Power of Networks in Early-Stage Impact Investment.” In November, the SIG held a special event on program related investments (PRIs) with two distinguished speakers: Peter Berliner of PRIMakers, and Dr. Jenny Rooke of Class 11 and the Center for Venture Education Board. Peter provided an overview of PRIs, and Jenny shared the experiences of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with PRIs; a recording of the call was made available to SIG members who could not attend.

Fellows and Mentors wishing to learn more about the SIG should contact Jocelyn Brown of Class 13 via
jocelyn@siddlebrown.co.uk.

Michael Madison and Koichiro Nakamura’s Cross-Border Venture Revolution2

The tragic earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan have galvanized the country’s citizens and leadership around the need to rebuild the northern region of Honshu, the main island of Japan. The twin disasters struck at a critical time in Japan’s history, as it was already suffering from a decades-long recession and the challenges of the world’s most rapidly aging population.

Even before the earthquake, we were closely working with the U.S. Embassy in Japan; the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry; and Japan’s leading universities and corporations to establish an innovation support platform for Japan. In our previous report, we described a global cross-border investment/incubation framework with actual test cases between the United States and Japan, and our ongoing efforts based on this work have gained a focus on disaster recovery.

We have responded by initiating a broad-based innovation platform, Japan Foundation for Recovery and Innovation (JFRI), supported by the U.S. Embassy in Japan. The first project of the JFRI and the Society of Kauffman Fellows was selecting a local leader candidate, Mr. Tomohiro Takei, and supporting him to participate in the Kauffman Fellows Program.

The centerpiece of the effort is the Cross Pacific Innovation Network (CPIN), a joint consortium with the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ). INCJ is a $20 billion public/private investment firm, the largest venture vehicle in Japan. We started CPIN in July 2010 and will continue our efforts in the education and promotion of entrepreneurship.

In November 2011 we launched our first project with CPIN and the Japanese equivalent of the National Science Foundation: the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST),3 which will connect innovators and corporations to commercialize new technology. We are hoping this prototype effort will expand capability to develop new innovative industry by collaborating with global partners to help the Japanese people rebuild their economy.

Tan Yinglan and Chinnovation4

Since July 2010, Chinnovation5 has been featured in the World Economic Forum, and Tan Yinglan has been named on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council for Fostering Entrepreneurship for 2011–2012. For his work on Chinnovation and venture capital activities, Yinglan was also named on a public policy think tank’s (Lo Spazio della Politica) “100 Global Thinkers 2011” list (no. 59) amongst thinkers such as Cher Wang, Elon Musk, and Paul Graham.6

Chinnovation has also been featured in an upcoming textbook, New Venture Creation: Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century (forthcoming from McGraw Hill).

Yinglan is now working on a new book featuring innovation by the wider Chinese diaspora—that is, Chinese in Silicon Valley, China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Indonesia. Over the past three decades, Chinese diaspora—both natives and immigrants—have left their mark on the world by founding game-changing companies in Silicon Valley, China, Taiwan, and Singapore, amongst other geographies.

Scott Ford and the Mobile Revolution7

In 2010 as I prepared my article for the first volume of the Kauffman Fellows Report, I hesitated with the feeling that I had too much drama in the report—wireless was to grow “dramatically and exponentially” and I predicted that “this market will be bigger than any we have witnessed prior.” Reflecting on the piece now in 2012, I feel like I was actually sandbagging. In fact, I believe the promise of the Mobile Revolution will undoubtedly exceed the drama of my 2010 point of view.

New to the story: There have been (a) huge increases in venture capital (VC) activity in the wireless industry and (b) some exciting exits. There is still a focus on software (apps), along with low hanging fruit in platforms and networks. Most infotech VCs now have a wireless practice.

My firm, OpenAir, has been very active with a strong group of portfolio companies. We experienced a terrific exit in a company we founded (Zave Networks acquired by Google 9/2011), while another company we started went from seed to growth company in near-record time (eRecyclingCorps raised $35 million from Kleiner Perkins 12/2011). In addition, we have transformed an agriculture company into a wireless company (MachineryLink sends real-time harvest data directly from the combine to the financial markets for commodities trading), and Gogo Inflight filed for an IPO.

We are focused on several important themes for 2012. One is account ubiquity: We are working on a solution allowing users to point their many (future) connected devices to a single account management platform. Who wants to manage connectivity accounts across multiple carriers and networks? Another theme is backhaul—carriers have yet to invest significantly in new solutions that solve the increasing network congestion problem, and we believe operators must (and therefore will) invest significantly in the future. We are and will continue to conceive and invest in solutions that relieve the network bottleneck.

We at OpenAir continue to operate as an ally to the ecosystem. We welcome partnerships with fellow investors, industry corporations, and new entrants.


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1 Jocelyn Brown’s original article, “Confessions of a Reluctant Impact Investor,” can be found in Volume 2 of the KFR.

2 Michael Madison and Koichiro Nakamura’s original article, “Cross-Border Venture Revolution: Next Generation Startup Agronomy,” can be found in Volume 1 of the KFR.

3 http://www.aist.go.jp/index_en.html.

4 Tan Yinglan’s original article, “Chinnovation: Unraveling the Dynamics of Chinese Innovation,” can be found in Volume 2 of the KFR.

5 Tan Yinglan, Chinnovation—How Chinese Innovators Are Changing the World (Singapore: Wiley, 2011).

6 Lo Spazio della Politica (LSDP), The LSDP Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2011 (English Version). http://www.lospaziodellapolitica.com/2011/11/the-lsdp-top-100-global-thinkers-of-2011-english-version/.

7 Scott Ford’s original article, “Investing in the Mobile Revolution,” can be found in Volume 1 of the KFR.

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KFR Volume 3 Cover

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