Friday, December 6, 2019

VC firm Revolution heads to Florida, Puerto Rico for ‘Rise of the Rest’ tour

By on February 1, 2019

SAN JUAN – Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm Revolution announced Friday that its next “Rise of the Rest” bus tour to highlight emerging startup ecosystems will head to Florida, with the tour ending in Puerto Rico, “to explore innovation and entrepreneurship” with Chef José Andrés.

Founded in 2005, Revolution says its mission is to “help build disruptive, innovative companies that offer consumers more choice, convenience, and control in their lives.” Its funds exceed $1.3 billion and “are positioned to back startups at nearly every stage of their lifecycle,” according to the firm.

Since 2014, Steve Case, chairman and CEO of Revolution, and his team have travelled mtraveled10,000 miles touring entrepreneurial communities by bus in 38 cities. In 2017, Case and JD Vance, managing partner of Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, announced the $150 million fund, backed by a group of entrepreneurs, executives and investors, including Ray Dalio, Meg Whitman, Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt and Sarah Blakely, who believe the “next great startup investments are located outside of coastal cities,” a release reads.

During each stop on Revolution’s Rise of the Rest tour, the team will meet with and visit entrepreneurs, and business and government leaders. The tour will also host daily discussions and a startup pitch competition in which $500,000 will be invested from the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, with $100,000 invested in a local startup at each stop.

Partners on the tour include Silicon Valley Bank, which will “support and help judge the pitch competitions,” and Google for Startups, which “will provide professional pitch coaching services for all of the pitch competition finalists as well as amplify the stories of the entrepreneurs we meet on tour.”

The Revolution team is spending four days in Florida to explore such sectors such as hospitality, space technology and real estate. Revolution said it is eager to further explore the work underway to connect startup support efforts between cities in the state.

While in Puerto Rico, the “tour will aim to shine a spotlight on how ecosystem builders and local leaders are working with cities in Florida to support each other,” according to the release.

Chef José Andrés, who is also ThinkFoodGroup’s founder and chairman of World Central Kitchen, will join the Revolution team to visit companies and entrepreneurial support organizations that are looking to help the island move toward long-term recovery and growth.

Revolution is focusing on the island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to “support individuals, companies and nonprofits tackling complex Third Wave challenges, made even more challenging following” Hurricane Maria, “like sustainable agriculture, energy production, pharmaceutical manufacturing, infrastructure and transportation.” The tour intends to highlight “these growing ventures and give them a platform to further accelerate their efforts,” the firm explained.

“Startups are responsible for nearly all net new job creation and with Florida’s size and diversity, the state can help lead the way. I’ve long admired José’s dedication to the people of Puerto Rico and I am excited to go with him to see how the island is working towards building and supporting an innovation ecosystem. Puerto Rico has a unique and powerful opportunity to launch and scale startups that tackle various real world challenges following Hurricane Maria,” Case said in the release.

“In Florida, we look forward to learning more about how cities are innovating traditional industries and how local startup champions are working across the state to welcome entrepreneurs. And in Puerto Rico, we will witness how startups are playing a critical role in revitalizing the island’s economy,” said Vance, adding, “We look forward to adding five more innovative companies from Florida and Puerto Rico to the portfolio,” he added.

“We are 100% invested in Puerto Rico, not just in moments of extreme need, like directly after Hurricane Maria, but for the long term as they rebuild the island and its economy,” José Andrés added. “To me, building a future where every Puerto Rican can access the benefits of technology and innovation is essential to this effort.”

Rise of the Rest 8.0 Cities and Regions, as per the announcing 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 a region on the east coast of Florida that 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. Our 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: The island of 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.

For more information, visit: www.revolution.com/rotr  or follow @RiseOfRest on Twitter.

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