On The Bus With Steve Case: ‘Rise Of The Rest’ Tour Highlights Phoenix’s Emerging Startup Community

Published: Friday, October 7, 2016 - 3:24pm
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(Photo by Lauren Gilger- KJZZ)
Inside the tour bus of the “Rise of the Rest” tour as it travels through Phoenix.
(Photo by Lauren Gilger- KJZZ)
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, AOL founder Steve Case, Arizona State University President Michael Crow and Greater Phoenix Economic Council CEO Chris Camacho arrive at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.
(Photo by Lauren Gilger- KJZZ)
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton meets AOL founder Steve Case in front of his “Rise of the Rest” bus at Civic Space Park in downtown Phoenix.

The burgeoning startup community in metro Phoenix is getting a lot of attention these days.  And now, it’s in the national spotlight as tech pioneer Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest tour comes to town.

It’s a bus tour that Case’s venture capital firm launched a few years ago to bring together local entrepreneurs, investors, and local governments to highlight emerging startup communities around the country.

Friday morning, the bus rolled into Civic Space Park in downtown Phoenix.

The Rise of the Rest tour refers to the ‘rest’ of the country, according to Case, the founder of AOL and CEO of venture capital firm Revolution.

“Last year, 75 percent of venture capital went to three states: California, New York and Massachusetts,” Case said. “So the other 47 states, including, obviously, Arizona, are fighting over 25 percent. And that’s crazy, (it) doesn’t reflect the distribution of great entrepreneurs building great companies.”

The idea is to spread the wealth when it comes to venture capital around the country to places that aren’t just Silicon Valley or New York or Boston – and Case is literally doing this. In each of the five cities on this tour, he’s holding a pitch competition between local startups, and he’s investing $100,000 in the winner’s company.

The tour is hitting a slew of up-and-coming companies in the Valley today, from mattress startup Tuft & Needle to Local Motors, which is making 3-D printed cars.

Friday night, Case will host a fireside chat with Arizona State University President Michael Crow and then eight local entrepreneurs will compete in the pitch competition at The Duce in downtown Phoenix. See the details here.

This is Case’s fifth Rise of the Rest tour. They chose the cities for this round through crowdsourcing and said Phoenix got the most nominations of any city to bring the tour here.

Mayor Stanton said Phoenix is in a unique position to attract venture capital investors to our startup community.

“Our value proposition here in the City of Phoenix is we have talent that is second to none, but it can be acquired at a price that is much more affordable than some of the other cities where the venture capital is going,” he said. “And money’s going to find talent.”

Stanton also said that the diversity of the Phoenix population is a strategic advantage as we enter a more and more global economy.

Case said that, despite some controversial political policies such as SB 1070 and SB 1062, Arizona’s diversity is an asset to our business growth.

“Forty percent of our nations Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants,” he said. “It feels like it’s well positioned for this next wave because it has a more diverse population, but we need to make sure we are leveling the playing field.”

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