“It’s like a rock star group or something,” says Devon Laney, president and CEO of 36 Degrees North. He’s talking about the high-profile investors who will visit five cities across America’s heartland — including Tulsa — on the Rise of the Rest Road Trip.
The group, including Steve Case, CEO of Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm Revolution, will visit Tulsa to meet with emerging startups, universities, local business and government leaders, and nonprofits. (This was originally set for April 21 and will be rescheduled. Visit 36degreesnorth.co for a new date.)
The visit will conclude with an eight-finalist pitch competition, chosen by the Rise of the Rest investment team. The winner, determined that night, will receive a $100,000 investment from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. By about 7 p.m., the team will be back on the bus and off to the next city.
Tour officials say Rise of the Rest will focus on how Heartland cities are attracting talent and how legacy corporations, like the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation in Tulsa, are working with local startup ecosystems to create environments that are appealing to people looking for cities that promise a lower cost of living and other lifestyle benefits.
“Tulsa has been on our radar for quite some time,” says Mark Rucci, Revolution’s director of platform strategy of the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. “It has a storied history of entrepreneurship. Cyber security at the University of Tulsa, for instance, is pumping out more PhDs than some places on the coast.”
Tulsa’s entrepreneurial basecamp, 36 Degrees North, will help facilitate the event.
“Throughout all of this, (Case) will get a really good sense of Tulsa’s ecosystem,” Laney says. “Having seen the results of this tour first-hand in Birmingham, I can tell you some of the relationships built that day can pay dividends.
“The next big wave of entrepreneurship isn’t coming from the East Coast or West Coast, and with a community like Tulsa, you already feel like there’s a lot of activity,” Laney says. “But when you have such a big-name event like Rise choose to come to your city — that’s a huge confidence booster. It lets you know you’re not just in your own bubble or echo chamber.”
Tickets are free, but limited. Doors open at 3:45 p.m.; programming begins at 4:30 p.m., at a venue yet to be announced. Visit events.revolution.com to RSVP.