Innovation and entrepreneurship aren’t exclusive to coastal cities, and billionaire D.C. startup investor and ex-AOL CEO Steve Case plans to showcase innovative startups in the middle of the U.S. with his “Rise of the Rest Road Tour,” a four-city bus tour next month visitng startups and incubators in the Midwest and South. The tour, led by Case and sponsored by Revolution, UP Global and Google for Entrepreneurs, will host competitions in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Nashville, where a panel of judges will pick a startup in each city to win a $100,000 investment from Case.
“It’s important to remember that America itself was once a startup, and became the greatest economy in the world thanks to the efforts of entrepreneurs who built not just companies, but entire industries in the heart of the country,” said Case in a press release.
Case made the official announcement Thursday morning on Bloomberg TV, but rumors of the tour have been percolating for a few days, especially after an article out of Cincinnati basically announced the tour ahead of time. Hitting the road in Detroit on June 24, the tour will spend a day in each city, including not only the pitch session, but a presentation by Case and a chance for the community to network with entrepreneurs and investors from Revolution investment firm and UP Global.
“Startup communities and their leaders have emerged in the past years as the most critical element in helping entrepreneurs succeed,” said Marc Nager, CEO of UP Global in the release. “The Rise of the Rest Road Tour gives us an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the vibrancy of the amazing startup communities emerging across the country.”
The winning startups will not only get the $100,000 from Case, but they will also get a chance to score a bigger investment by pitching to Revolution in D.C. after the tour is over.
“This journey – covering nearly 1,000 miles – will showcase emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems that will play a critical role in rebuilding the American economy and creating new middle class jobs,” Case said.