By Nancy Dahlberg
Startups, take note: The Rise of the Rest bus is coming to Miami on May 2 – and with it an opportunity for South Florida startups to participate in a pitch competition.
Steve Case’s Revolution announced Friday that its next five-day Rise of the Rest bus tour, a movement that highlights startup success outside of Silicon Valley, will visit Orlando, Tampa Bay, Miami and the Space Coast. The tour will end the week with a visit to Puerto Rico to explore innovation and entrepreneurship with Chef José Andrés in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
During the Miami stop, as well as the other city stops, the tour will visit entrepreneurs, local business and government leaders, and startup ecosystem builders. The tour will also host daily fireside discussions and a startup pitch competition in which $100,000 will be invested from the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund into a Miami area startup.
Revolution is an investment firm run by Case. Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund is a $150 million fund launched in December 2018 by Case and Hillbilly Elegy author and Revolution partner J.D. Vance. The fund is backed by a group of well-known entrepreneurs, executives and investors including Meg Whitman, Howard Schultz, Mike Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt, and Sarah Blakely.
Miami-based startup Caribu won a $100K global pitch competition last year sponsored by Revolution and accelerator 1776.
Miami area startups -- defined as startups within a 100-mile radius of the city of Miami -- can submit applications for the pitch competition here: https://riseoftherest.submittable.com/submit.
The deadline to apply is March 11.
Other partners for the bus tour include Silicon Valley Bank, which will help judge the pitch competitions, and Google for Startups, which will provide professional pitch coaching services for the pitch competition finalists.
The tour is eager to explore innovation going on in already-flourishing economic sectors such as hospitality, space technology and real estate, and explore work underway to connect the state’s startup communities. Last week, a key theme at Synapse, a tech and entrepreneurship conference in Tampa, was connecting the state and leveraging the strengths of all of Florida's startup and business communities.
“Every election cycle Florida is in the national spotlight for what the state’s votes say about the future of the country, but we believe the focus should also be on the state’s entrepreneurial communities and the companies that will drive our nation forward,” said Steve Case, chairman and CEO of Revolution and co-founder of AOL, in a press release. “Startups are responsible for nearly all net new job creation and with Florida’s size and diversity, the state can help lead the way.”
In connection with the Rise of the Rest announcement, eMerge Americas CEO Felice Gorordo announced that eMerge Americas programming would be extended to include the Rise of the Rest visit. Case spoke at eMerge in 2016. Read more from Gorordo here.
In Puerto Rico, Andrés and the Revolution team will visit companies and entrepreneurial support organizations that are looking to help Puerto Rico move from disaster relief to long term recovery and growth. Days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Andrés, a DC-based chef with restaurants in Miami, and his non-profit World Central Kitchen were already building a network of kitchens and supply chains that fed more than 3.6 million meals in Puerto Rico. Today, World Central Kitchen is also supporting projects to promote sustainable agriculture.
"Puerto Rico has a unique and powerful opportunity to launch and scale startups that tackle various real world challenges following Hurricane Maria,” Case said.
A pitch competition will be a part of each stop on the tour, and a total of $500,000 will be invested into winning teams.
Here is the schedule for the Rise of the Rest bus tour, according to the press release:
April 29: Orlando is known for its entertainment and hospitality giants like Disney, Universal, and Sea World, but the city has an emerging tech ecosystem that supports various other industries including the space and defense sectors, education, and autonomous vehicles.
April 30: The Space Coast is home to several exciting companies in aerospace, aviation, defense, and drone technologies. With the privatization of and renewed vigor around the space race it has made this region one of the most exciting to watch in the country. Revolution’s pitch competition in the Space Coast will be open to companies from anywhere in the United States whose core focus relates to space, drone, or aviation technologies or adjacent focus areas that support them or take advantage of associated data.
May 1: Tampa Bay, an economy heavily focused on real estate, has also become a burgeoning tech ecosystem driven by the presence of large military and defense installations that provide talent for the startup ecosystem. Additionally, Jeff Vinik, an investor in Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, is helping to launch a local innovation hub that will be home to 50+ startups.
May 2: Miami is a hotbed of entrepreneurship and in 2017 The Kauffman Foundation ranked it the national leader in startup activity. The diverse city also serves as a gateway for U.S. companies trying to break into Latin America or for LATAM companies looking to establish U.S. roots.
May 3: Puerto Rico is uniquely positioned in both its history and geography to serve as a launching pad for U.S. companies into Latin America. Following Hurricane Maria, the island is leveraging its entrepreneurial communities to solve real issues that impact the lives of its residents.
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