Rise of the Rest spotlights entrepreneurs in Chattanooga

Rise of the Rest Bus Tour made a stop in Chattanooga on May 10.

Last week a big event in Chattanooga welcomed some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world.

Those entreprenuers had some very interesting things to say about the start-up community in Chattanooga.

"I think Chattanooga is awesome." Revolution CEO, Steve Case said, "great momentum in the start-up community especially in the last five years or so the innovation district, the fiber, allowing high speed access at low prices, everybody in the community, and there's some bubbling momentum around the startups here at the same time."

Steve Case is the co-founder of America Online and the CEO of Revolution. That's the company behind Rise of the Rest.

"We do a trip each spring, and then another one each fall. We do five cities in five days," Steve Case said.

Last week the tour went to Dallas, Memphis, Birmingham, Chattanooga, and Louisville.

They have a pitch competition in each city and one company in each city get's a one thousand dollar investment. In Chattanooga Freight Waves was the winner.

"Each place has it's own unique flavor." J.D. Vance with Rise of the Rest said, "you know the southeast has it's own unique flavor. Birmingham is different from Memphis is different from Chattanooga. What we've noticed here in Chattanooga is that there's this remarkable institutional knowledge around shipping and logistics and so a lot of the really cool companies are building themselves off the back of that institutional knowledge. That's a unique piece of Chattanooga."

J.D. Vance is the managing partner of the Rise of the Rest Seed fund and author of the best selling book, Hillbilly Elegy.

While Steve Case, J.D. Vance and the rest of Rise of the Rest team were in Chattanooga they met with local business leaders and visited and heard pitches from a lot of the companies we've talked about on Making History such as Bell Hops, Pass it Down, VaynerMedia and many others.

They told us the Chattanooga story needs to be heard across the country.

"It's kinda amazing that you come to a city and Silicon Valley isn't necessarily paying attention, but you see what's going on and you immediately think to yourself, you know these guys should be more focused, meaning the Silicon Valley guys should be more focused on what's happening in Chattanooga," J.D. Vance said. "That's definitely what we're seeing today."

Steve Case says last year fifty percent of the venture capital in the country went to companies in California. Less than one percent went to companies in Tennessee. The goal with the tour is to get more of those investment dollars spread to other parts of the country.

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