Founder of AOL Steve Case (right) at the Rise of the Rest tour in Baltimore. (Photo: Contributed)

Venture capital firm Revolution—which was founded by AOL founder Steve Case—has chosen eight startups to pitch next month in Chattanooga for a chance to win a $100,000-investment.

The pitch competition is part of the Rise of the Rest Road Trip that showcases emerging startup ecosystems.

The Chattanooga finalists are:

  • Curie Co., which uses biotechnology to democratize sustainability
  • InfinityCo., which provides commercial smart room services
  • Branch Technology, which prefabricates 3D printed buildings
  • WorkHound, which aims to be the voice of the front-line worker
  • Aegle Gear, which creates and engineers “purposeful apparel” that strives to enhance business performance, promote safety and fuel brand advocacy for our health care customers
  • CPR Wrap, which is an aid that simplifies CPR down to four steps.
  • SkyNano, which aims to transform waste CO2 into carbon nanomaterials using sustainable and low-cost advanced manufacturing technology
  • FreightWaves, a leading provider of data and analytics for the freight market

On May 10, Revolution representatives will host the pitch competition and spend the day working with local entrepreneurs, businesses, nonprofits, universities and public officials to discuss the opportunities and challenges of fostering startup growth.

They will also host a fireside chat covering the opportunities for regional entrepreneurship today.

The Rise of the Rest bus tour will come to Chattanooga May 12. (Photo: Contributed)

Being named one of the five cities on the tour is a coup for the city, local leaders said.

“This validates that Chattanooga is on the scene in terms of entrepreneurs and startups; it validates our place in that narrative, ” The Company Lab Chief Executive Marcus Shaw said. “It also validates that we have all the necessary tools and resources to help high-growth companies accelerate.”

The Company Lab Chief Communication Officer Tia Capps, who has been working in and observing the local startup community for the better part of a decade, said the attention from Revolution and Case is outside affirmation of the city’s progress.

“Revolution choosing to include Chattanooga at a stop on its tour is really cool because it signals to investors across the country and says Chattanooga is a place where they should be putting their money,” she said.

Shaw said that he hopes this tour highlights some of the areas where Chattanooga shines, such as health care, advanced manufacturing and logistics.

Last week, Chattanooga startup RootsRated announced it was leaving Chattanooga for Atlanta, in part, because they didn’t find employees with the skills they need here.

Shaw addressed the talent issue and said that many cities are facing the same problem and that local leaders, including business people and educators, have the opportunity to help build up the workforce.

And there are some skill sets that are more prevalent in Chattanooga, such as sales and manufacturing.

Some of the companies chosen for the pitch competition fall into those categories. Branch is in the manufacturing sector and FreightWaves is the logistics space.

“If I’m in manufacturing or logistics operation, this is exactly where I want to be,” Shaw said.

And, beyond the specifics of the businesses that will pitch, Chattanooga’s place on this list is good news for everyone in the city, Shaw said.

He wants all citizens, including those who aren’t heavily involved in the startup scene, to come out and support the event, he said.

“It’s incredibly important that we do our part as a community when we have opportunities like this,” he said. “I don’t care if you started a company and failed or if you’ve never started one—I want people to come out and be seen [during the day of the bus tour]. This is a rock start investor that believes our city is a venue to do a rock show. I want that type of animation.”