AOL Founder Steve Case Bets on America’s Entrepreneurs to Lead Internet’s Third Wave

Jul 01, 2014 admin

For his last stop on the Rise of the Rest tour, Steve Case addressed, brainstormed – and even invested in – Nashville’s growing and passionate technology community. Following stops in Pittsburg, Detroit and Cincinnati, he made the case to the Nashville Technology Council audience that in order for America to maintain its global leadership position, we need to support entrepreneurship and the creation of jobs.

It goes beyond Silicon Valley

“I love Silicon Valley; it is awesome, and will continue to be awesome,” Steve Case told the Nashville Technology Council audience last week. But, as Case pointed out next, not all entrepreneurs are in the Valley. And, while a lot of the media attention is focused there, entrepreneurs are doing amazing and innovative things across the country – living where they want, attracting talent and raising capital. There is more and more attention, investment and talent making its way to cities in the middle of the country; the goal of the Rise of the Rest Tour was to shine some light on a few of the places, like Nashville, leading the way.

Finding success in the “Third Wave”

Case talked about entering the third wave of the Internet. The first was building the internet. The second was building on top of the Internet – apps, products, etc. But the third is going to be different; it will be about integrating the Internet into every aspect of our lives. The skill requirements will be different and partnerships and policy will be critically important. Cities that have structural advantages in areas like healthcare (Nashville), transportation (Detroit) – and the perseverance to build industries – will be the hallmark of the third wave.

Carrying the torch

Steve Case presented a few specific ways entrepreneurs can take advantage of – and benefit from – this third wave.

1. Go outside your comfort zone

Bottom line: If you're focused on just what's happening inside your company, you will be left behind. No matter how many smart people you have inside your organization, there will always be a lot of smart people outside. So, get outside of your company and your comfort zone.

2. Don’t wait

There is some urgency for companies looking to become part of the third wave. Opportunities that are there now might not be in five years. For example, there is a revolution happening in mobility; a city like Nashville who has the history and legacy in healthcare should lead in mobile/healthcare technology.

3. Embrace people

The most important thing for any company is people – both inside and out. If business leaders in a region come together, they will create their own success. The future requires an elaboration of partnerships and mentoring, so it is in everyone’s self-interest to help their own region/city rise to the top.

Placing bets

Steve Case is betting on cities like Detroit. After all, he describes Detroit as Silicon Valley sixty years ago, leading not only the country – but the world – in transportation. Places like this are fighting their way back, and its entrepreneurs who are leading the way. And since momentum begets momentum, we can all expect to start seeing some exciting things from new companies – and fighting cities – across the country. Keep an extra close eye on the following companies, who each took home $100,000 as a result of a pitch competition during the tour:


  • Detroit: Stik: Uses Facebook to connect people who need high-value goods or services with trustworthy professionals recommended by friends (Twitter: @stik)
  • Pittsburgh: SolePower LLC.: Transforms natural motion of walking into source of renewable & portable power for devices (Twitter: @SolePowerTech)
  • Cincinnati: Frameri: Interchangeable frame and lens system allows you to express yourself with as many frames as you want, without paying for extra lenses (Twitter: @FrameriEyewear)
  • Nashville: Simplifying the complex world of data-marketing (Twitter: @checkdin)
Topics: Leadership, Technology, Entrepreneurship

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