January 16, 2018

Sometimes candor is how we change the narrative. Take for example the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund from DC-based investment firm Revolution. In a December 2017 Forbes article, “A Bevy Of Billionaires Join Steve Case’s $150 Million ‘Rise Of The Rest’ Startup Fund,” Alex Konrad reports on the momentum behind this tremendous effort.

Rise of the Rest is focused on supporting tech startups and entrepreneurs, but with a considerable change-up… those that are based outside of Silicon Valley. This is a deliberate shift by fund leaders Steve Case (co-founder and former CEO of AOL) and J.D. Vance (venture capitalist and author, Hillbilly Elegy). They are choosing to change the conversation.

For decades, Silicon Valley has been the hot seat for tech success. But shifting the dialogue to the potential outside of the valley has broad benefits. Case and Vance envision that success for everyone involved.

Investing in this way is good for everyone: more jobs, more wealth, better products and it helps our society in dealing with a lot of jarring employment changes. Entrepreneurs, remember, are the job creators in our economy. ~ Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google parent Alphabet, as quoted by Konrad, Forbes, December 2017.

Case and Vance are building relationships and cultivating an all-star team of investors, and they’ve earned the support of some of America’s most well-known and highly-successful business leaders.

The first conversation we had was to collect a list of people we thought were iconic, highly visible entrepreneurs and investors to be involved. ~ Vance, as quoted by Konrad, Forbes, December 2017.

Some of their most notable backers include Jeff Bezos (chairman and CEO, Amazon), Sara Blakely (founder, Spanx), Howard Shultz (executive chairman, Starbucks) and Tory Burch (chairman, CEO and designer, Tory Burch, LLC), among another three dozen or so.

The Rise of the Rest campaign is zeroing in on smaller cities away from the coasts, such as Denver, Omaha and Nashville, that are growing and preparing to support a rising tech industry. Moving even deeper into our nation’s overlooked cities and counties, Case, Vance and investors see the potential to create and sustain lasting change and improvement in areas that currently lack interest, investment and job opportunity.

By providing entrepreneurs outside of Silicon Valley with the resources they need to build great businesses, we are disrupting the current investment paradigm and creating a more evenly dispersed innovation economy, which is critical for the future of our country. ~ Burch, as quoted by Konrad, Forbes, December 2017.

How does this example of Rise of the Rest influence decisions in our organizations? Are we using candor to change the narrative? What is the broad-reaching potential of looking outside of the valley/box to start new conversations? And, what are the most important new relationships we should be cultivating to create profound success?