Madison could get another shot at the Rise of the Rest tour — if enough people vote for the city by the deadline, next Thursday.
Steve Case and his Rise of the Rest tour — featuring cities with innovative companies that are outside the usual coastal hubs — are holding a competition among the 26 cities they’ve already visited. One of them will get a return trip, with the promise of a $100,000 investment from Case in another promising startup.
Voting is being held through Oct. 12 on the Rise of the Rest website to “#BringBackTheBus,” and the city receiving the most votes will get another visit from the team, which will meet with local entrepreneurs and check out the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce president Zach Brandon, contacted Friday, was not sounding too confident that Madison will be chosen.
“If this competition were solely about the best example of a city accelerating into the Third Wave, Madison would be a very strong contender to receive a return trip from Rise of the Rest. It is clear that Steve Case likes what he sees in greater Madison and Wisconsin, based on the fact that he has visited here twice,” Brandon said.
Case was the keynote speaker at the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce’s IceBreaker luncheon in 2016.
“However, since a majority of the cities we are competing against have substantially larger populations, and the winner will be based on total number of votes, we certainly face an uphill battle,” Brandon said.
Madison played host to the Rise of the Rest tour in October 2014. Nine local companies each had five minutes to wow Case and a group of local judges with their technology.
The winner was Solomo Technology, a Madison company with a cloud-based platform for indoor location analytics and customer engagement. In other words, it could tell a retailer which products their customers showed the most interest in, when they stopped at store displays. Solomo won $100,000. However, Solomo “suspended operations” earlier this year after a key client unexpectedly ended a partnership with the company, CEO Liz Eversoll said Friday.
Eversoll also co-founded a toy-tech company, Meeper Technology, in Whitewater, where she is CEO and chairman. She said Meeper, a robotics company, continues to grow.
Rise of the Rest is about to begin its sixth trip on Oct. 10, and Green Bay is one of the cities it will visit. It’s the only other Wisconsin city that has been part of the campaign.