Rise of the Rest: A Fireside Chat with Steve Case and Mayor Michael Nutter

Written by Danielle Pinto, Programs Specialist, PACT

On Tuesday, September 29th, AOL Founder and venture capitalist Steve Case visited Philadelphia with his Rise of the Rest roadshow – a tour of “emerging startup ecosystems” that has also included Baltimore, Manchester (NH), and Portland (ME).

Case believes that “high-growth companies can now start and scale anywhere, not just in a few coastal cities,” and to demonstrate this, the Rise of the Rest tour features visits to established local companies (such as RJ Metrics and Curalate here in Philly), as well as student and early stage pitch competitions, where $10,000 and $100,000 respectively are awarded to the winning startups in each city.

The Philadelphia pitch competition was held at the National Constitution Center, where scholarship app Scholly beat seven other local startups to take home the $100,000 investment. Penn startup Fever Smart won the student competition.

PACT had a chance to attend the pre-competition “Fireside Chat” between Steve Case and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Both enlightening and entertaining, we thought we’d share some of our favorite takeaways from the conversation:


  • Case estimated that only about 10% of funding is awarded to female entrepreneurs – but on crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, that number jumps to 50%. For Case, this indicates that when the “idea” is front and center, women have an equal shot at funding. However, women are at a significant disadvantage when funding relies heavily on personal networks.


  • According to Mayor Nutter, the percentage of non-native college students choosing to stay and work in Philadelphia post-graduation has almost doubled in the last decade, from 28% to 49% – and many of those graduates are staying here to start businesses.


  • Nutter believes that big companies need to invest in smaller companies to help grow the ecosystem of innovation in Philadelphia – especially in healthcare tech.


  • Case and Nutter also agree that Philadelphia is a major hub for inclusive and social entrepreneurship. Nutter hopes that impact investment will continue to grow in Philly.

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