After traveling 1,100 miles to five new cities, meeting hundreds of entrepreneurs, and investing half a million dollars, we’ve wrapped up our latest Rise of the Rest bus tour.
The common theme was reflecting on history in order to reimagine the future: in Baltimore that meant recalling how a city’s once booming economy based on manufacturing and shipping has begun transitioning into a startup hub centered around defense, research and health. In Philadelphia, it meant showcasing the founding of the country’s first startup: the United States itself, while engaging the city’s 100+ colleges and universities to encourage Millennials to stay in Philadelphia and contribute to a startup culture. In Buffalo we discussed how a once-mighty manufacturing hub at the western terminus of the Eerie Canal is turning into an innovative economy through a heavy emphasis on biomedicine and advanced manufacturing, with an assist from robust government support. While visiting Manchester we discussed how the “Live Free and Start” initiative is turning the Mills – once the economic backbone of New Hampshire – into a startup hub with innovative companies like Dyn, along with STEM initiatives like FIRST where Steve had the opportunity to play catch with a robot. And in Portland we talked through how a city based on shipping and tourism is becoming an authentic ‘buy local’ hub with an educated population returning to start and help build new, fast-growing companies like Certify and CashStar.
During our first pitch competition in front of a packed house at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, Sisu Global Health won a $100,000 investment. The medical device company for emerging markets, which works primarily in Western Africa, offers (as a start) a surgical tool that can replace the need for donor blood by recycling a person’s own blood from internal bleeding. Read more on our stop there and live blog from the Baltimore Business Journal HERE.
Along with Mayor Nutter, in front of nearly 500 people at the picturesque National Constitution Center, Scholly earned a $100,000 investment in Philadelphia. The app gives students a fast and simple way to find scholarships for college by using various parameters to insantly filter listings into a comprehensive directory for scholarships, turning a month long search for aid into a minutes-long endeavor. Read the Philadelphia Inquirer’s recap of the tour HERE and watch as Steve practices his piano playing skills at Drexel University.
In front of raucous crowd at Riverworks in Buffalo (along with Bills great Thurman Thomas), two companies took home investments in a surprise development. The overall winner was Energy Intelligence, which is developing a novel energy harvesting system that lies flat on roads and uses the motion of vehicles at high-traffic sites to generate electricity. The energy generated can be used to power lighting and other equipment onsite, reducing the facility’s electric bill by as much as 50%. Inspired by the quality of the companies, local investors Jordy Levy and Ron Schreiber of Z80 Labs made a surprise $100,000 commitment to match Steve Case’s investment. As a result, a second winner was selected: POP BIOTECHNOLOGIES, a nanomedicine company committed to improving the lives of cancer patients with next-generation, precision-targeted drug delivery. See the front page Buffalo News story about the day HERE and learn why one entrepreneur at Dig turned from a Brooklynite into a Buffalo transplant.
In Manchester – with an assist from representatives from nearly all the presidential campaigns – FreshAir Senor won $100,000. The company uses a novel sensor technology to protect people from exposure to unauthorized smoking. FreshAir’s devices monitor protected areas to provide customers notification and scientific proof when smoking takes place. See the front page of the Union Leader HERE and watch as Governor Maggie Hassan talks about the importance of public-private partnerships.
Capping things off in Portland at the Port City Music Hall, with former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick joining, Rapport won $100,000. The company describes itself as a “Quickbooks for Sustainability.” It helps small and midsized business track, reduce and disclose their environmental footprint. The team is on a mission to democratize sustainability for millions of businesses around the world. Read more HERE.
From our first Rise of the Rest stop in Detroit, to our 19th to date in Portland (ME), we are encouraged by the continued momentum we’re seeing around budding entrepreneurial ecosystems throughout the U.S. Please join us in congratulating the winners and watch this space for news on the fifth Rise of the Rest tour, coming your way this spring! Read more about the tour in our Tumblr HERE.