Meet a Flyover leader; self-fitting clothes; and more from Flyover U’s – December 9, 2019
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Investor startup studio: Rev1 Ventures
Photo: Kristy Campbell
While most venture capital goes to cities on the coasts, one of the most active seed investors in the country is based hundreds of miles from the bounding main. It’s Columbus, OH-based Rev1 Ventures, a nonprofit investor startup studio that combines capital and strategic services to help startups scale and corporations innovate. For the last five years it’s been the most active seed investor in the Midwest—not a bad record considering it’s just six years old.
Across its short history, Rev1 has funded 100 startups and generated an economic impact of $2 billion. In keeping with the region’s diverse economy, where no industry represents more than 10 percent of the corporate base, Rev1 supports startups in an array of industries, including healthcare, software IT, advanced manufacturing, and alternative energy. But it’s diverse in another way, boasting that half the companies it supports have diverse investors, founders, and/or leaders.
Flyover Future caught up with chief operating officer Kristy Campbell to learn more. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.
How do Flyover Country entrepreneurs look different from the Silicon Valley stereotype?
Campbell: Innovators and entrepreneurs here are very focused on solving a problem that they’ve faced in their career. It’s not so much the really, really early-career, hoodie-wearing young founder who’s got a cool tech idea and is trying to make it stick. These are entrepreneurs who are solving really big problems that haven’t been solved before.
Campbell: We’re really strong in preaching that you have to know your customer from day 1. If that’s the case, you don’t need a lot of money to build your first product, because your customers will pay for it. We focus on customer-first vs. a lot of ideas that may or may not fly in the market.
If your entrepreneurs aren’t hoodie-wearing techies, where do the tech skills come from?
Campbell: Usually they are a founder who understands their market but probably doesn’t have a really deep technical knowledge or ability to manage production codes. We oftentimes have to find technical co-founders.
Is tech talent hard to find in the region?
Campbell: Like a lot of large cities, there’s a technical talent gap. You have to end up robbing Peter to pay Paul. While we have quite a few large boot camps that are pumping out 100 or 150 new developers every year, most of those folks, at least in the beginning, end up going to a corporation that can pay them a lot more so it’s a little less risky for them.
Is it hard to attract VC to the heartland?
Campbell: When there’s heavy deal flow on the coasts, there’s not a huge need for those investors to go outside the region. But the good news is because the companies we’re working with have such a strong foundation from the ideation and concept stage, they are actually further along, which means they require less capital and are much more efficient in how they focus on their customers on day 1. Investors are really starting to take notice.
What are two great things about being located in Columbus?
Campbell: First, we’re very fortunate—and not all states have this—to have a state program that matches every dollar that we raise from the corporate community; that program is called the Ohio Third Frontier. Second, we’ve got a really connected community here. I think a lot of communities say that, but here it’s built into the overarching economic-development strategy.
For more information, visit www.rev1ventures.com.
FLYOVER U INNOVATION
Are you ready for this 'shapeshifting' textile?
Image courtesy of YouTube
Imagine wearing a self-fitting garment that adapts to your shape, powered only by your body heat. So instead of struggling into a pair of restrictive compression stockings, you could put on loose stockings that tighten down automatically once you’ve got them on. Snug as a bug.
It may sound a bit far-fetched, but such wearable technology is now within reach. Researchers at the University of Minnesota, in conjunction with NASA, have created a temperature-responding textile that conforms to areas of the body that are irregularly shaped—like your knee pits.
The textile appears similar to an ordinary knit, but it’s made of “shape memory alloys” (SMAs), which change shape in response to heat. The technology is expected to open the door to medical, aerospace, and commercial applications.
Julianna Abel, a University of Minnesota professor who participated in the project, described the research: "We created an operation that maps the mechanical performance of textiles to human anatomy.'
Here's a video of the textile from the University of Minnesota.
Iowa scholarship fund kicks in
Last year, when Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed the Future Ready Iowa Act into law, the goal was to train Iowans for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The ambitious target is to enable 70% of Iowa workers to have education or training beyond high school by 2025.
As a result of that legislation, more than 5,800 Iowa students have been on the receiving end of the new Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship (to the tune of $6.6 million so far).
The scholarship covers tuition for post-secondary credentials up to two-year degrees. It’s focused on meeting business and industry workforce needs in four areas: advanced manufacturing, health care and biosciences, information technology, and construction and engineering.
“This bill changes lives by helping Iowans earn credentials that prepare them for rewarding careers in advanced manufacturing, computer science, finance, health care and many other fields,” Governor Reynolds said. “This bill also helps employers hire the skilled workers they need to grow, which means Iowa communities will be even more prosperous.”
IU preps students for global careers
The Modern Language Association says that 651 foreign language programs were cut from US universities from 2013 to 2016. But one university in Flyover Country continues to fly in the face of that trend.
Indiana University offers more foreign languages than any other public university in the US. In addition, its Defense Department-funded Language Flagship Programs (again, IU offers the most in the US) “train students in languages critical to national security and economic competitiveness.” The programs provide a combination of advanced language study and international internships, giving students language proficiency in Chinese, Arabic, Russian, or Turkish.
IN FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
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