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

By on March 22, 2019

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Event to feature networking, pitch competition and discussion with Chef José Andrés

SAN JUAN – Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm Revolution’s “Rise of the Rest” bus tour to highlight emerging startup ecosystems ends May 3 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Juan with a networking activity, a “Fireside Chat” and a pitch competition, all from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The firm said that following Hurricane Maria, the island “is leveraging its entrepreneurial communities to solve real issues that impact the lives of its residents,” thus it is exploring “innovation and entrepreneurship” by ending the tour day with a pitch competition and celebration.

Attendees can participate of a “fireside chat,” where AOL co-founder and Revolution CEO and Chairman Steve Case, as well as President and Founder of ThinkFoodGroup and Chairman of World Central Kitchen Chef José Andrés will discuss their “shared vision and mission to support innovation.”

During the pitch competition, eight local startups compete for a $100,000 investment from the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, an early stage venture fund backed by three dozen entrepreneurs, investors and executives such as Eric Schmidt, Jeff Bezos, Henry Kravis, Howard Schultz, Meg Whitman, Jim Breyer, John Doerr and others. Puerto Rico pitch finalists will be revealed the week of April 1.

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, Revolution’s Case and his team have traveled 10,000 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 the aforementioned group of people.

During each stop on the Rest tour, the team visits entrepreneurs, and business and government leaders. The tour hosts 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 supports and helps judge the pitch competitions, and Google for Startups, which provides coaching for the pitch competition finalists.

The Revolution team already went to Florida to explore such sectors as hospitality, space technology and real estate. 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 a release.

Chef José Andrés joined the Revolution team to visit companies and entrepreneurial support organizations that are looking to help the island move toward long-term recovery and growth.

“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 was quoted as saying. “To me, building a future where every Puerto Rican can access the benefits of technology and innovation is essential to this effort.”

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,” Revolution said, adding that its tour intends to highlight “these growing ventures and give them a platform to further accelerate their efforts.”

Case said he has “long admired José’s dedication to the people of Puerto Rico” and is “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.”

Vance, the fund’s managing partner, added: “We look forward to adding five more innovative companies from Florida and Puerto Rico to the portfolio.”

Rise of the Rest 8.0 will be traveling to Orlando on April 29, where Revolution says there is “an emerging tech ecosystem that supports various other industries including the space and defense sectors, education, and autonomous vehicles. The Space Coast, a region on the east coast of Florida that is “home to several exciting companies in aerospace, aviation, defense, and drone technologies,” will be visited the next day.

While on May 1, the will stop at Tampa Bay, which “has also become a burgeoning tech ecosystem driven by the presence of large military and defense installations that provide talent,” and where Jeff Vinik, an investor in Revolution’s seed fund, “is helping to launch a local innovation hub that will be home to 50+ startups.”

The day before leaving for Puerto Rico, the team will visit Miami, which it called  “a hotbed of entrepreneurship” and “a gateway for U.S. companies trying to break into Latin America.”

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