Revolution announced that its next five-day Rise of the Rest Road Trip will return to America’s Heartland for a week in April.
The road trip was announced today and will occur during the week of April 20, making stops and highlighting startup successes in Wichita, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Northwest Arkansas and St. Louis.
The Rise of the Rest Road Trip first visited St. Louis in 2014 on its second tour, meeting with startups such as Lockerdome (now a Rise of the Rest Seed Fund portfolio company) and startup support organizations such as T-Rex. This time, the city stop will focus on AgTech and St. Louis’s role as a leader and incubator for the sector.
The tour overall will focus on how Heartland cities are attracting talent and how legacy corporations, including Koch Industries in Wichita and Walmart in Bentonville as well as philanthropic anchors such as George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation in Tulsa, are working with local startup ecosystems to create environments that are appealing to people looking for cities that promise a lower cost of living and other lifestyle benefits.
“As I have often referenced, my entrepreneurial roots are tied to the Heartland – and to Wichita specifically – where I worked early in my career as the head of new pizza development at Pizza Hut,” said Steve Case, chairman and CEO of Revolution. “These regions have deep legacies of storied entrepreneurial successes.
“Through the tour, we want to help catalyze additional momentum to help the next generation of entrepreneurs in the places like Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri, and with our recently announced second seed fund, invest in their future progress.”
Recent research from the Brookings Institution and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation highlighted concerns as coastal hubs continue to add high-paying, top-tier tech jobs to the detriment of other would-be hubs in the Heartland and other regions of the United States. It underscores the importance of local and national efforts, both public and private, to further support emerging startup sectors. Nearly all net new job growth comes from startups. Exits like ExactTarget in Indianapolis or Duo Security in Ann Arbor, Mich. demonstrates that significant startups can come from cities between the coasts, often as a result of a competitive advantage. It can have a positive ripple effect across the local economy.
Started in 2014, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest is a nationwide effort to invest in and work closely with entrepreneurs in emerging startup ecosystems. Steve Case and the Revolution team have logged more than 11,500 miles touring entrepreneurial communities by bus in 43 cities.
During each stop on the Rise of the Rest bus tour, the team meets with and visits entrepreneurs, local business leaders, government leaders, and ecosystem builders. The tour also hosts daily discussions and a startup pitch competition in which $500,000 will be invested from the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund ($100,000 will be invested in a local startup at each stop).
In Northwest Arkansas, the tour will partner with the Heartland Summit, an annual gathering to kick start economic growth in the middle of the country.
In St. Louis, following a day focused on agricultural innovation, the pitch competition will feature AgTech startups from across the country pitching for the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund investment.
“The tour is a remarkable lens through which to view the past, present, and future trajectory of a city and its business community,” said Anna Mason, a partner on the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund who also leads the bus tour. “We view the trip as an opportunity to learn what is helping and hindering founders in cities between the coasts and help shine a brighter spotlight on how each city is helping to make their community a true home for startups.”
Revolution has two $150 million Rise of the Rest Seed Funds to invest in seed stage companies outside of Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston. Both funds are backed by a group of iconic entrepreneurs, executives and investors, including Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt, Ray Dalio, Meg Whitman, and Sara Blakely. David Hall, an investor with Revolution for over a decade, was appointed managing partner of the Seed Funds late last year.
“Having traveled on the Rise of the Rest bus tour for our previous eight journeys, I’ve witnessed the significant impact startup success can have on the economic development of a city,” Hall said. “We look forward to meeting more startup founders and those who champion them on this next tour and to finding five new companies from the Heartland to add to our growing portfolio.”
For more information on applying to pitch and attending tour events, click here.