AOL Co-Founder Steve Case Leads April 30 Visit
MELBOURNE, FLA. — Brevard County’s entrepreneurial spirit will be in the spotlight on April 30 as AOL co-founder Steve Case and a team from his Revolution investment firm will spend the day learning about startups and innovation up and down the Space Coast.
“Every election cycle Florida is in the national spotlight for what the state’s votes say about the future of the country, but we believe the focus should also be on the state’s entrepreneurial communities and the companies that will drive our nation forward,” said Case, chairman and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Revolution. “Startups are responsible for nearly all net new job creation, and with Florida’s size and diversity, the state can help lead the way.”
The daylong Space Coast, which will include a visit to Florida Tech’s Digital Scholarship Lab, is part of a five-day Rise of the Rest bus tour that will begin in Orlando April 29 and also include stops in Tampa Bay on May 1, Miami on May 2 and Puerto Rico on May 3.
During each stop, the team will meet with and visit entrepreneurs, local business and government leaders, and ecosystem builders.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the Space Coast. To be recognized among those communities at the top ranks of startup ecosystems, and having entrepreneurs building companies that generate national recognition, truly speaks to how our community is a leader in innovation and high-tech industry,” said Abram Walton, professor and director of the Center for Innovation Management and Business Analytics at Florida Tech.
The tour will conclude with a free public event offering a community celebration, a“fireside chat” with Case and J.D. Vance, author of the 2016 best-selling memoir Hillbilly Elegy and managing partner at the $150 million Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, and a pitch competition featuring eight startups competing for a $100,000 investment from the fund.
The pitch competition, which takes place at Groundswell Startups in Melbourne, will feature startups from the Space Coast and other rising cities whose core focus relates to space, drone, aviation technologies or adjacent focus areas.
The four local companies competing are: BoMax Hydrogen, LLC, Helicon Chemical Company, Reaction Dynamics and Tomahawk Robotics.
“We, too, believe that the future of American startups lies in markets like ours,” said Micah Widen, CEO of Groundswell Startups. “The Space Coast has an incredible history of innovation that continues today with the rise of new technology in aerospace, robotics, cybersecurity and much more. We’re excited to showcase the next generation of talent for Steve Case and the Rise of the Rest Tour.”