My adventure with the Rise of the Rest Tour and Steve Case

October 8, 2014 4:27 pm

“What Steve is doing to raise awareness about the importance of supporting entrepreneurs in order to grow our economy, is an absolute game changer. “

After having spent yesterday with Steve Case (co-founder of AOL) and his ‘Rise for the Rest’ bus tour in Minneapolis, I am feeling inspired. What I witnessed was an amazingly successful business entrepreneur giving back in the most important of ways. Steve’s actions actually spoke louder than his words. With a fantastically efficient and lean team he has set out across the U.S to shine the spotlight on and raise up entrepreneurs outside of Silicon Valley  and show that they are  worthy of investment and support. Steve is doing the hard work: slogging across the country in a bus meeting with entrepreneurs who have truly groundbreaking ideas. Whipping up PR everywhere he goes, he’s creating a platform for entrepreneurial voices across America to be heard.


I was more than fortunate to be a part of the second stop on the tour, along with Senator Klobuchar and the Rise of the Rest groupies which included some media, Steve’s team and a handful of local entrepreneurs, visited several local entrepreneurs. We started at Coco’s beautiful space in the Grain Exchange building. We were then off to Field Nation, Sport Ngin and the Midtown Global Market. I am sad to admit that I was unaware of any of these highly successful entrepreneurial companies other than the Global Market.  What an eye opening tour! I so enjoyed listening to the founders share their stories, their vision for the future and touring their offices – absolutely inspiring!

We had lunch at the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the U of M with a town hall sort of forum with Steve Case. There were thoughtful questions asked and Steve spoke more about his motivation behind the Rise of the Rest tour. He shared his reflections that our country was built by entrepreneurs not all that long ago and that he is concerned that we have lost sight of this and have not been effectively supporting our entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial spirit that build our country.IMG_20141007_105149179

Another part of Steve’s mission is connecting local entrepreneurs in each market. He truly understands there is power in numbers and in collaboration. Entrepreneurs working together only strengthens the entrepreneurial fabric in our communities across the country. Steve believes that this is ultimately how we are going to create the equitable jobs necessary to maintain a strong economy and our leadership position in the world.

Next, we were off to the Varsity Theater for a panel discussion which I was fortunate enough to be a part of. Moderated by the ever entertaining Steve Clemons, editor at large for the Atlantic and frequent MSNBC contributor, Steve Case, myself and Steve Bock the president of Shinola. The discussion was lively and we all shared our stories of getting started and how we overcame obstacles.  The panel discussion was followed by 5 minute pitches by 10 Minnesota start ups with the winner receiving a $100,000 check from Steve Case. We had some fantastic companies in the pitch competition that all made Minnesota look good! 75Fahrenheit was the winner, a Mankato firm that also won the Minnesota Cup last month.

IMG_20141007_110140654I am very thankful for Steve Case and his crew. What Steve is doing to raise awareness about the importance of supporting entrepreneurs in order to grow our economy is an absolute game changer. I am inspired by his strategy and actions in helping to ‘Raise the Rest’ and am now a big fan of Steve Case! My hope is that the spark Steve and his crew have created lights a fire and inspires other to step up and get on board to support the ‘Rise of the Rest!’. I am also hopeful that the social entrepreneurial movement gets included in this wave of action – I am on a mission to move the social entrepreneur movement forward… it’s all about collaboration!

I encourage you to check out the links in this blog and learn more about this important initiative  – it is going to take a village to move this effort forward! I will leave you with one of Steve Case’s frequently shared quotes:

If you want to go quickly, go alone- but if you want to go far, you must go together – African proverb




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