Founders outside Silicon Valley have the chance to compete for a slice of $300 million in funding from AOL’s cofounder. Here’s everything to know about the venture, and which states are eligible.

Revolution CEO Steve Case

  • AOL cofounder Steve Case’s venture capital firm, Revolution, has been running “Rise of the Rest” bus tours since 2014. In 2017, it raised a complementary $150 million Rise of the Rest seed fund, and last fall raised another of the same value. 
  • The next Rise of the Rest bus tour is setting off on April 20 and will visit Wichita, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Northwest Arkansas, and St. Louis.
  • This article is part of Business Insider’s Better Capitalism series, which tracks the ways companies and individuals are rethinking the economy and role of business in society.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

If you’re an investor looking for some high growth startups, you’re not going to immediately think of searching Kansas and Missouri. Steve Case wants to change that.

Case, an AOL cofounder and its former CEO, has been leading his Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm, Revolution, on “Rise of the Rest” bus tours since 2014. He and his team have been operating on the premise that there is huge potential outside of where, traditionally, 75% of all venture capital has gone: Silicon Valley, New York City, and Boston.

On Tuesday, Revolution announced that ninth bus tour will take place from April 20-24 and go through Wichita, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; northwest Arkansas; and St. Louis, Missouri.

Revolution raised its first $150 million Rise of the Rest Seed Fund to accompany the trips and their underlying thesis, in 2017. It raised a second $150 seed fund last fall and has limited partners like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio, and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman.

So far, the Rise of the Rest team has built a network of 200 coinvestors and invested across 43 cities in the US. At each bus stop, the team meets with local entrepreneurs and community leaders and ends the day with a pitch competition, where the winning entrepreneur will receive $100,000 from the seed fund. The tours are meant to raise awareness of each region’s startup scene, and the Rise of the Rest team maintains its relationships with each of the locales throughout the year, and will continue to make investments.

We asked the Rise of the Rest crew why it chose the heartland as its the next destination, and a spokesperson sent us the following, a collection of insights from the investment team.

Wichita, Kansas

“In addition Wichita’s rich history of entrepreneurship through the founding of companies like Koch Industries, Pizza Hut, and Rent-A-Center, there’s a lot of momentum in the local startup community in regard to talent. This is further augmented by the anchoring presence of Cargill’s protein business (a multi-billion dollar unit of the MN-based company) paired with the efforts of local universities like Wichita State, startup support organizations like e2eAccelerator, and the Accelerate Venture Partners angel network, which are working in tandem to mobilize the community and empower entrepreneurs.”

Tulsa, Oklahoma

“There are robust efforts by community leaders in Tulsa focused on continuing to improve the quality of life while addressing local talent-development issues. Because of initiatives like the George Kaiser Family Foundation’s Tulsa Remote program, which actively incentivizes relocation for remote workers, Tulsa is quickly becoming an incredibly attractive place for professionals to live, work, and raise a family.”

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

“Oklahoma City is leveraging deep expertise in energy and natural resources to fuel the creation of high-growth, tech-enabled startups in the state’s capital. Many of these startups are supported by a highly effective network of organizations that are set on helping Oklahoma City rise — like StitchCrew, the Oklahoma City Thunder Launch Pad, and i2e.”

Northwest Arkansas

“Northwest Arkansas benefits from the anchors of Walmart, Tyson Foods, and JB Hunt—established companies that help the region attract businesses focused on supply chain, food, and consumer retail. Regional universities and business councils are not oblivious to this regional advantage and are working hand in hand to support the growth of startups looking to innovate in supply chain and agriculture. Now, national players like Endeavor and Plug & Play are taking notice and planting roots in the region to compliment home-grown startup support efforts from longtime players like Grit Studios and Startup Junkie.”

St. Louis, Missouri

“We first visited St. Louis on our second Rise of the Rest Road Trip in 2014, and are looking forward to being back to explore how the region is poised to become a hub for agtech. In addition to the native farming and agriculture talent that exists in Missouri — anchored by efforts from Cortex, BioSTL, Yield Lab, the Danforth Center, and others — local universities with renown programs in agriculture and the sciences are creating a strong talent pipeline. During our stop in the Gateway City, we’ll be championing this narrative of St. Louis as an agtech hub while hosting a national food and agriculture-focused pitch competition.”

As with any other Rise of the Rest visit, the tour is connected to Case’s worldview, which he describes in detail in his book “The Third Wave.” As he sees it, AOL led the pack of the first wave of the internet, establishing the networks that led to the second wave of internet companies — like Facebook, Google, and Amazon — where the rise of smartphones helped make near-instant online access an inescapable facet of life.

The third wave that Revolution is tapping into, is where the “internet of things” will essentially become the “internet of everything,” where we will move past novelties to industry-transforming developments like new methods of collecting and analyzing real-time livestock and crop data.

He’s not pretending that major startups aren’t going to continue emerging from America’s existing startup hubs. But he and his team are looking to take advantage of the industry connections and specialized talent pools across the country. David Hall is the managing partner for this second Rise of the Rest fund, and he wants these investments to inspire more people to stay in their home states rather than head to the coasts.

“We see it as such a huge growth engine for the future of the US economy,” Hall told Business Insider in October.

SEE ALSO: AOL founder Steve Case is doubling down on his bet that the future of startups is outside Silicon Valley. Here’s what entrepreneurs from the heartland need to know about his VC’s second $150 million fund.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Steve Case on why he’s investing more in startups outside of Silicon Valley and New York