AOL Co-Founder Steve Case Is Leading a Venture Capital ‘Revolution’ Beyond Silicon Valley

For nearly a decade, Steve Case, co-founder of America Online criss-crossed the United States on bus tours visiting cities outside of traditional tech-centric hubs in search of innovators and entrepreneurs to back his DC-based investment firm, Revolution.

He found many. So much so that other big names in business joined his mission, and he wrote a book about the experience called “The Rise of the Rest: How Entrepreneurs in Surprising Places are building the new American dream.”

AOL co-founder Steve Case is leading a movement to invest in off-shore start-ups. (Revolution)

Revolution has launched two $150m Rise of the Rest seed funds to invest in seed-stage businesses across the coasts (the first $150m fund launched in 2017, the second in 2019). A group of investors backs the funds, executives and founders, including Jeff BezosRay Dalio, Sara Blakely, Henry Kravis, Eric Schmidt, Tory Burch and John Doerr.

So far, The Rise of the Rest Seed Fund has invested in nearly 200 companies in over 100 cities.

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Case says he and his fellow investors recognized there had been a disconnect and disparity in capital distribution over the past decade, with 75% of venture capital attracted to just three states: California, New York and Massachusetts.

Steve case

Steve Case at a “Rise of the Rest” bus stop in Louisville, Kentucky on May 11, 2018.

“Above all, we believe the best way to bring more capital to more people and more places is to generate returns that really entice coastal investors to pay more attention to cities in the center of the country.” , Case said. FOX Business.

He added that they also recognize that the mission has “a broader impact in terms of being able to create more jobs and opportunities and many cities in the center of the country that have felt kind of left out and left behind”.

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While the pandemic has slowed down Revolution’s bus tours, it has fueled its mission as a whole.

Case says the pandemic has served as an accelerator to what he sees as a tipping point in terms of how people think about remote work and flexibility, and at the same time venture capitalists have realized that they could have pitch meetings with contractors outside of their own backyard.

Steve case

Steve Case grants funds to a startup in Minneapolis, Minnesota during a “Rise of the Rest” bus tour.

This new era where people can work from anywhere also has the potential to end the “brain drain” that occurs when skilled workers or entrepreneurs feel they must leave their communities to be part of a startup – which are essential for Job creation in the USA

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Case says it’s already happening across the country where entrepreneurs are disrupting big industries from places people wouldn’t expect, and it makes him optimistic about America’s future.

“There are a lot of things that divide us,” he told FOX Business. “It’s a question that can bring us together: how can we maintain our leadership on a global scale, around innovation and entrepreneurship? How to do it in a more inclusive way? And how to write this next chapter of American history which is really about new ideas? Through a pioneering and innovative spirit.

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