Here’s What I Learned at This Year’s Rise of the Rest Tour

Archna Sahay visited central Pa. this week for the event’s signature pitch competition.

Judges on stage at central Pa.’s Rise of the Rest pitch competition. Image via Twitter.

We are better and stronger together. Revolution’s Rise of the Rest (ROTR) Tour stop in central Pennsylvania on Tuesday proved this when it brought together the tech communities of York, Lancaster and Harrisburg for a day of networking, frank conversations and, of course, the tour’s $100,000 pitch competition.

The day celebrated the unique aspects of tech entrepreneurship in each city but also put a spotlight on the region as a whole as the bus traveled from York to Lancaster, and to the final stop in Harrisburg. Governor Wolf was present for much of the tour and spoke to the high economic impact of entrepreneurship, specifically tech entrepreneurship. Deputy Secretary Sheri Collins was also present as she was for when AOL cofounder and Revolution’s chairman and CEO Steve Case visited us in Philly in 2015. The Pitch Competition at the Harrisburg Midtown Art Center brought tech startups from across the central Pennsylvania region to compete for the $100,000 check. I joined Steve on stage along with four other judges: 

  • David Hall (Revolution Partner)
  • Derek Holt (K4 Connect president)
  • Tim Reese (Former Pa. State Treasurer)
  • Rosa Clara Stroh (The Hershey Company, former VP/Treasurer)

The winning company, Device Events, “develops software that identifies patterns of problems with medical devices to improve patient safety and reduce risk.” (Find a complete list of finalists at the end of this story.)

More than the investment from Steve, the ROTR events are an opportunity for communities to come together and explore ways to invest in each other. As Steve noted, he and his team get on the bus at the end of the day and roll to the next stop. It is up to us to keep the momentum going and to make things happen in the communities we call home.

In Philadelphia, we continue to benefit from the connections made at the 2015 activation of ROTR. I have no doubt that central Pennsylvania and each of the cities involved, will also be able to leverage this event to generate more activity in the years to come. ROTR has visited Pennsylvania three times now: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and now central Pennsylvania. The big opportunity for Pennsylvania is to find ways to leverage this platform to raise up every city and every region across the state. Tech professionals across Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and central Pennsylvania can work together by leveraging one another’s competitive advantages to solve local, national and global problems. And the help of public-private partnerships is the key opportunity.

Pennsylvania boasts strong higher educational institutions throughout the state that are surrounded by deeply committed and community-focused tech professionals so it is not surprising the Revolution team has visited us so many times. The diversity of innovation occurring in the state – from robotics to life sciences to agtech – that have the ability to scale nationally and globally, is another reason Pennsylvania is attractive to investors.

We have an opportunity to bring Steve back for another visit. ROTR is currently accepting votes for the city to which they should go BACK. Voting ends today at 4pm EST. If you haven’t already, take a look and vote for Philly. We are in second place. Let’s bring the Revolution team back to the city that knows a thing or two about that!

Pitch competition finalists:

  1. BeneFix | Pitching: Matthew Ranauro, Founder & CEO | About: Benefix is an open platform for the world to access health benefits.
  2. TurnoutNow | Pitching: Harpreet Chatha, CEO | About: TurnoutNow provides high-resolution event data using wearable tech and predictive analytics.
  3. Augean Robotics | Pitching: Charles Andersen, CEO | About: Augean Robotics builds robotic following carts for workers in rugged environments.
  4. CRIMEWATCH Technologies | Pitching: Matthew Bloom, CEO | About: CRIMEWATCH is a GovTech tool that organizes criminal justice information.
  5. INTAG | Pitching: Ian Kanski, Co-Founder & President | About: INTAG develops modular ecosystems for resilient agriculture and hyper-local food.
  6. Device Events | Pitching: Madris Tomes, CEO | About: Device Events develops software that identifies patterns of problems with medical devices to improve patient safety and reduce risk.
  7. Schedule Engine | Pitching: Austin Haller, Co-Founder & CEO | About: Schedule Engine equips contractors to deliver a modern customer experience.
  8. TEAMology | Pitching: Linsey Covert, Founder & CEO| About: TEAMology bridges the divide between technology and teamwork to change the world of education.
  9. Fizika Group LLC | Pitching: Martha Harris, Founder, President & CEO | About: Fizika helps those at risk of developing dementia reduce heart health risks and maintain brain health.

Archna Sahay is the City of Philadelphia’s former director of entrepreneurial investment.

Follow @ArchnaSahay on Twitter.