› Pitch Competition Application: www.events.revolution.com
Chattanooga was picked Wednesday as one of five cities where a business startup will receive $100,000 from a seed fund headed by entrepreneur and AOL co-founder Steve Case.
Case and the Rise of the Rest seed fund tour will come to Chattanooga on May 10 to showcase the city's innovation ecosystem, officials said. A regional competition will take place in which startups will make pitches for the $100,000 in seed money.
Marcus Shaw, chief executive of The Company Lab in Chattanooga, said hosting the tour is "an incredible opportunity to share the Chattanooga story, including the work that has been done to create and support the entrepreneurial community we see today."
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said it's exciting to see the efforts to boost entrepreneurship in the county be recognized through such an event as the tour.
Case's Rise of the Rest campaign is designed to promote entrepreneurship outside of Silicon Valley. In its fourth year, the bus tour is powered by the investment firm Revolution, of which Case is CEO. The tour showcases founders in emerging startup ecosystems across the U.S.
Since the tour launched, Case and that team have traveled more than 8,000 miles on a bus to visit 33 cities and invest in local startups. The tour stopped in Nashville in 2014.
The Washington, D.C.-based firm also announced a new ROTR fund with $150 million to complement the existing funds with the support of three dozen of America's best-known business leaders including Amazon's Jeff Bezos. Revolution's funds now exceed $1.3 billion.
Memphis also was named Wednesday as a stop on the tour, with that visit scheduled for May 8.
Shaw, who heads the group that helps entrepreneurial growth in Southeast Tennessee, said the Chattanooga stop reflects the advancement and innovation in the city and region, particularly over the last few years.
"This is confirmation that Chattanooga is one of the up and coming leading cities for entrepreneurs," he said.
Tia Capps, the Co.Lab's chief communications officer, said entrepreneurs from the Chattanooga region will have the opportunity to apply for the $100,000.
"We'll cast a wide net and see who wants it," she said. Capps said she believes that Rise of the Rest has its own judges.
Christy Gillenwater, CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said the business group applauds the effort "to encourage venture capital investors to look beyond major metros and Silicon Valley and focus on areas like our Chattanooga region, where it's often easier to connect."
Gov. Bill Haslam sent out a video message about the selection of two more Tennessee cities added to the tour. He said the addition "validates [Tennessee] as the startup-friendly environment."
Charlie Brock, CEO of Launch Tennessee, a public-private partnership that supports entrepreneurs, said that with three cities recognized for their startup ecosystems, "we believe we're closer to achieving our vision of making Tennessee the most startup-friendly state in the country."
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., cited Memphis and Chattanooga "for earning the opportunity to showcase their entrepreneurs on a national stage."
Each Rise of the Rest tour day ends with a startup pitch competition. Google for Entrepreneurs, a longtime Rise of the Rest partner, will provide coaches to help founders with their pitches.
Also, officials spend each tour day bringing together local entrepreneurs, businesses, nonprofits, universities and public officials to discuss the opportunities and challenges of fostering startup growth.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318.
This story was updated Feb. 14, 2018, at 10 p.m. with more information.