Just over two years ago, we embarked on what was at the time a bit of an experiment – putting our “Rise of the Rest” theory to the test by (literally) hitting the road to check out growing entrepreneurial ecosystems throughout the United States. We had started to see a trend take hold: it was becoming easier to launch and scale startups in places like Durham and Baltimore and Buffalo than it had been before. And so our team endeavored to find out more: over an 18 month period, the bus logged more than 4,000 miles visiting 19 cities in America’s heartland, the Southeast, the Northeast and the Midwest. In the process, we met with mayors, governors, corporate leaders, ecosystem builders and most importantly with hundreds of entrepreneurs who are building the innovative companies of tomorrow, in places like Nashville, Atlanta, New Orleans, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Des Moines.
Our belief – indeed our investment philosophy across all of our funds at Revolution – is that this trend of a new wave of startups starting and scaling in “off the beaten track” places is only beginning, and will accelerate in the years to come. (For a great read on innovation in cities and towns across the U.S., check out James Fallows’ piece in the Atlantic from a few months back.)
So this Fall, we’ve decided to once again fire up the bus and hit the road from October 3rd – October 7th. In each city I will write a $100,000 check to a local entrepreneur, visit fast-growing startups, meet with elected officials, host a big celebration-of-entrepreneurs party, and shine a spotlight on the startup community. We’ll be joined by our partners at Google for Entrepreneurs, Salesforce for Startups, Engine, Startup Grind, Tech.co and Village Capital. (This is what the day looks like.)
Which cities will we visit, exactly? That’s where you come in. The Rise of the Rest bus has yet to make its way to the Mountain West, Southwest, or Northwest. So we’d love to hear from you: if you live in a city in one of those regions, and can help us plan a day that incorporates entrepreneurs, public officials, and local leaders, please let us know. Visit the Rise of the Rest website or tweet at us or do a Facebook post using the #RiseofRest.
I’ll also bring a few extra copies along of my new book, the Third Wave. It’s my view that in the Third Wave entrepreneurs will start disrupting the largest sectors in the economy: health, food, education, financial services, and transportation. A good amount of this disruption will happen in “rising” cities that are outside of the current innovation hotbeds (California, New York and Massachusetts, which scooped up 75% of all U.S.Venture capital last year). The rest is indeed beginning to rise. As examples, Columbus and Nashville ranked in the top five metro areas for growth entrepreneurship in a recent Kauffman Report, and cities like San Antonio, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Cincinnati (and many others) also experienced significant increases in entrepreneurial activity.
Joining us on this next bus tour and then beyond will be our new director of Rise of the Rest Investments, Anna Mason. Anna joins us from her role as D.C.’s Co-Director of The Vinetta Project, a global ecosystem to support female entrepreneurs as they seek to scale high growth businesses. Prior to that, Anna launched her own startup, which was recently acquired, and before that spent seven years on Wall Street, at Lehman Brothers, Barclays, and the Seaport Group. Anna is also a published author and earned an MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business as well as a BA in Government from Harvard College.
I’m looking forward to seeing some of you out there on the road. And remember, if you want us to consider visiting your city in the Mountain West, Southwest, or Northwest from October 3 – 7 please let us know.