Venture Capital Firm Revolution announced that its next five-day Rise of the Rest Road Trip will return to America’s Heartland the week of April 20, 2020 to highlight startup successes in Wichita, KS; Tulsa, OK; Oklahoma City, OK; Northwest Arkansas; and St. Louis, MO. The Rise of the Rest Road Trip first visited St. Louis in 2014 on its second tour, meeting with startups like Lockerdome (now a Rise of the Rest Seed Fund portfolio company) and startup support organizations like 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, like Koch Industries in Wichita and Walmart in Bentonville or philanthropic anchors like the 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 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. This 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 and, as we’ve seen with exits like ExactTarget in Indianapolis or Duo Security in Ann Arbor, significant startups can come from cities between the coasts, often as a result of a competitive advantage, and have positive ripple effects 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 and government leaders, and ecosystem builders. The tour also hosts daily fireside 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, 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 now has two $150M Rise of the Rest Seed Funds to invest in seed stage companies outside of Silicon Valley, NY, and Boston (the first launched in 2017 and the second in fall of 2019), both 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 as 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 noted. “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.”
Rise of the Rest 9.0 Bus Trip Schedule:
April 20: Wichita, KS
April 21: Tulsa, OK
April 22: Oklahoma City, OK
April 23: Northwest Arkansas
April 24: St. Louis, MO
For more information on applying to pitch and attending tour events, go to www.events.revolution.com.
About Revolution’s Rise of the Rest
Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Funds are investment funds that are part of a nationwide platform led by Steve Case focused on spotlighting regional startup hubs and investing in early stage, high growth companies across the country. The team executes a strategy of partnering with regional ecosystem leaders and co-investors to build and scale the next wave of transformational companies. The Rise of the Rest Seed Funds are backed by a group of iconic entrepreneurs and business leaders who believe that the next great startups are located outside of coastal tech hubs. The Rise of the Rest Seed Funds are headquartered in Washington, DC and part of Revolution’s family of funds including Revolution Growth and Revolution Ventures. Visit revolution.com/rotr or @RiseOfRest.