$100,000 from AOL Founder Down to 8 Finalists

Steve Case releases schedule, finalists for Rise of the Rest tour of Philly.

Steve Case talking to a group of entrepreneurs in Detroit during a previous Rise of the Rest tour. (Photo courtesy of Revolution.)

Steve Case has $100,000 for a lucky Philly startup. (Photo courtesy of Revolution.)

After more than 130 Philly companies applied, the quest for a $100,000 investment from one of the world’s best-known angel investors has narrowed to eight semi-finalists. Steve CaseAOL founder and champion of tech cities not named Silicon Valley, San Francisco and New York — will make the investment on Sept. 29 after spending the day touring the Philly tech scene.

The eight startups competing for the cash are:

1. SmartPlate – A plate that instantly analyzes the nutritional value of everything you eat.

2. Scholly – An easy way to find scholarships.

3. I’m Sorry to Hear [as of 2017, Funerals360] – Funeral planning online made easy.

4. Bynder – Mobile learning management system for emerging markets.

5. WhoseYourLandlord – Platform to review a landlord and find your home.

6. Wash Cycle – Sustainable commercial laundry service.

7. Life.Io – Solution that motivates and rewards users for tracking and improving health.

8. Focus Food –  urban, aquaponics farming on rooftops and in old warehouses.

The demos will be held at 4 p.m. at the National Constitution Center. At the event, Case will be interviewed on stage by Kimberly Weisul editor-at-large of Inc. magazine. Derek Anderson of Startup Grind will moderate the pitch competition. Celebrity judges include sports media personality Stephen A. Smith and Amy Stursburg of Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

The public can RSVP here.

Although there can only be one grand-prize winner, Case told me last month that “the goal is to get them all funded” — meaning investors will not be shy offering cash to runners up.

That will end a long day for Case who will be riding his Rise of the Rest bus to a number of Philadelphia tech destinations (and a few fancy restaurants.)

There is also a $10,000 student speed pitch contest which will take place on the bus with roughly 10 students pitching. Case, Amy Stursberg and Steven Tang, president & CEO of the University City Science Center, will serve as judges.

“Cities like Philadelphia will rise. They have a stronger startup ecosystem than most people perceive,” said Case. “Most people around the country don’t know what’s happening in Philadelphia, so we hope to attract more national media attention and investor attention.”

Here’s the full schedule:


VIP Breakfast with founders, local political, business, and civic leaders

Continental, 138 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19106


Event: Tour of Biomeme

Location: 20 N 3rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106


Event: Tour of RJMetrics

Location: 1339 Chestnut St. #1500, Philadelphia, PA 19107


Event: Tour of Drexel Excite Center

Location: 3401 Market St., Philadelphia PA 19104


Event: VIP Lunch with with founders, local political, business, and civic leaders

Location: Distrito, 3945 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104 


Event: University of Pennsylvania Showcase

Location: Singh Nanotechnology Center of the University of Pennsylvania, 3205 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104 


Event: Tour of Curalate

Location: Curalate, 2401 Walnut St. Suite 502, Philadelphia, PA 19103 


Event: Ice Cream break with Startup Philly Companies

Location: Franklin Fountain, 116 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19106


Event: $10,000 Philadelphia Student Speed Pitch in partnership with Blackstone Charitable Foundation.


Pitch Competition for $100,000 and fireside chat with Case and Weisul.

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Startup celebration that’s free and open to the public. The $100,000 pitch competition winner will be awarded at the happy hour.