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Tech Tuesdays with Russell: Observations from 'Rise of the Rest' tour with Steve Case

As part of his Tech Tuesdays series, tackle Russell Okung visited AOL co-founder Steve Case's Rise of the Rest Road Trip. (photos by Eric Bakke)

DENVER --When I found out AOL founder Steve Case was bringing his 'Rise of Rest' Tour to Denver, I knew I had to go to meet the man and to absorb all of the knowledge he'd be willing to share. 

I was not at all disappointed! 

Some major points of note from Steve:

  • Technology has broken down the limitations of certain industries based on location. Fifty years ago, everyone thought you had to be in New York City to be successful in finance. You had to be in Los Angeles to be successful in entertainment. Steve also made a powerful statement -- that thinking you have to be in Silicon Valley to have a successful startup is wrong. I agree.
  • In the short time I've been in Denver this year, I have already had so many introductions within  the startup community in Colorado, as well as across the country. We have an incredible group of talented, educated, and driven entrepreneurs in Colorado -- all of  whom are interested in creating change, innovating technology and evolving opportunities across a variety of demographics.

Steve brought up the importance of how to intrigue Venture Capitalists to look at locations outside the Valley. He brought up the importance of immigration -- to invest on a larger scale and get talent across the world. Changing the views and approach of the VC majority is a marathon, not a sprint.

  • For me, the "how" of something is where the real answers are, and where change is most crucial. If we were to update securities laws to allow people to raise capital, it would be a powerful component of the change puzzle. It would democratize access for people like me.
  • Maximizing opportunities keeps our national entrepreneurial spirit alive as a whole and Steve said policy and partnerships are more important than ever before. To me, this is about access, opportunity and  exposure.
  • Other startup communities are jumping up out of formerly industrial cities, ready to grasp technological advances and take advantage of the lower cost of living. They will build up better than they were before. Uber is betting its future on Pittsburgh with 500 engineers there. Places like New Orleans are rebooting with technology. They are willing to try because of a tumultuous situation and willing to care more about a startup community than a start company.
  • And of course, Denver understands better than most because of the appreciation of community importance here. Huge success in small communities have a spinoff effect. One company can set the standard for the rest of the city. The Rise of the Rest campaign believes in the power of one for all. Everywhere.

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