Thoughts on Rise of the Rest Event


CEI was please to participate in the very exciting Rise of the Rest event sponsored by AOL founder and entrepreneurial investor, Steve Case. His U.S. bus tour is promoting the acceleration of entrepreneurship and innovation in cities beyond the startup strongholds of Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin, and New York.

As part of Case’s stop in Phoenix, eight entrepreneurial finalists from the area were selected to pitch their startup companies to Case for a $100,000 investment prize. Two of the eight finalists were current clients of CEI, and one of them won.

“An amazing part of the Rise of the Rest Phoenix event was the opportunity to sit down with all of our partners in the Phoenix-area innovation ecosystem at one table. We were invited to discuss our views on how we become stronger collectively, and this was a first as far as I know. We discovered that we might not have a unified voice to share with our nation, but we have a culture of collaboration and generosity of heart. I am not sure what comes next or how we develop such a national voice, but ‘game on’ from my vantage point!” Patti DuBois, Assistant Executive Director of CEI.

The impact on CEI startup clients was noticeable. The fact that a successful entrepreneur and investor, Steve Case, interested in what we were up to, as a major U.S. city, seemed to have an energy of its own. And, for our two CEI finalists, here is what it meant to them:

Sidnee Peck, CEO -  SMART Brain Aging
“Our SMART Brain Aging team was honored to be selected as one of the eight finalists for Rise of the Rest on October 7th. While we now have a very active startup ecosystem in the Phoenix metro area, having Steve Case and his bus tour take over the city for a day brought a wave of excitement and attention that really invigorated us and the entire community.

Hearing Steve's viewpoint on the non-Silicon Valley/NY/Boston communities of startups was refreshing. It was not a ‘feel-good’ dialog in that we all love each other’s messages. Rather, it was a call to action if Phoenix wants to be one of the cities that rise. Clearly, it is up to us as entrepreneurs. Steve focused his message on the Three I’s of interconnectedness, inclusion, and impact – and challenged us to take the Three I’s to the next level.

Our team looks forward to doing our part to make that happen. A huge thanks to Yes PHX and President Crow of Arizona State University for making it all happen for everyone.”  

Vivek Kopparthi, CEO - NeoLight
“The essence of the event was all about highlighting the cities where entrepreneurship is hot and happening and, by doing so, breaking the myth that everything happens in Silicon Valley.

During the breakfast, Steve highlighted about his secret of success for a city to thrive and succeed in entrepreneurship – being interconnected horizontally, bindingly inclusive and prioritizing impact over anything else. He also mentioned that the other mission of this event is to make a level playing field – not just geographically but also culturally, in diversity, and in all other aspects.

Rise of the Rest was a very productive effort for Phoenix. Not only because it highlighted us on the map of innovation, but because of the inclusivity of all our entrepreneurial community getting together and putting our best foot forward as one. The entrepreneurs did their part too – we had the highest number of applicants for the event in all of the 25 cities where the Rise of the Rest troop has ever visited. I am confident that this effort left an impact on our Phoenix-area community and motivated all of our hustling and hard-working entrepreneurs to do more!

For us personally, it was an honor to be a part of the top eight startups. It was a group of high achieving and stellar companies that are on a great trajectory. We dedicate the win to all of the hard-working, humble and hustling entrepreneurs who just keep going, come what may! We dedicate it to all those moments when we could be taking a vacation or working for a ‘nine-to-five’ – instead being up and rhinoceros-ing through the day! And yes, of course, having Steve Case in our capitalization table is definitely a value-adding gift.”

Read more about the Rise of the Rest

Are you a technology-based company with high-growth potential? Join the CEI community of entrepreneurs and apply today!

Patti DuBoisComment