At One America Works, we know that there is a lot happening in non-coastal cities around the nation. Startup ecosystems are thriving in growing tech hubs like Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Nashville, drawing in new investments and fresh talent as they continue to advance. 

To continue these investments in growing tech hubs, OAW is partnering with Comeback Capital to provide pre-seed investments to over 80 companies across the country, and particularly in underserved regions of America.

For two years, Comeback has been running a pilot program investing $2 million in early stage pre-seed startups. Through more than twenty investments, they have shown tremendous success including investments in Path Robotics in Columbus and FloatMe in San Antonio as examples of companies that have excelled through Comeback’s support. These investments in traditionally under-resourced regions of the country where attracting capital is difficult will also benefit the cities themselves. It allows and incentivizes the companies to stay and continue making meaningful economic contributions to those areas. 

The relationship between One America Works and Comeback Capital will focus on each organization’s strengths. OAW will focus on organizing events, telling the stories of growing tech hubs, and bringing companies into the fund. Many of these activities parallel those of Rise of the Rest tours, with a similar vision and mission for Middle American cities. Comeback Capital will invest dollars and bring in expert venture capital evaluators to help identify the best companies. Together, we will work to connect talent, startups, investors and cities through events and marketing. Additionally, we will work with the accelerator gener8tor on a virtual educational series and pitch competition and an accelerator studio to further build the startup ecosystem in the heartland.

Inside this issue

  • Comeback Capital Announces New Partnership with One America Works
  • The Bridge: Featuring Scott Shane from Comeback Capital
  • Venture Dollars Spread Throughout the US
  • Connecting the Coasts to the Heartland
  • Top Startups to Watch, Beyond the Valley
Comeback Capital focuses on providing early stage funding to startups in the Heartland. The VC firm announced today the appointment of two new partners who will help the firm capitalize on the bounty of talent and entrepreneurship in emerging tech hubs beyond the Midwest. To fund this expansion, Comeback is launching a new $10M rolling fund via AngelList, to invest in seed and early stage funding for startups across America. Since its founding in 2018, Comeback has provided 25 companies with seed and early stage funding, including Path Robotics, FloatMe, Paxafe and Civic Eagle. Nearly half of its portfolio has raised additional capital at a higher valuation. Read more

Our podcast, The Bridge, explores the people driving America’s fastest-growing businesses. Founders, funders, and community leaders who aren’t just reimagining their economy and opportunities but actually making those visions into a new reality. This episode features our partner Scott Shane from Comeback Capital. Scott brings decades of experience as a professor, investor, and currently serves as Managing Director of VC firm Comeback Capital, which operates on the belief that you don’t need to leave to build your company. You can do it right here in the Midwest. Comeback Capital has assembled an all-star group of coastal and local LP’s who share our passion and belief that great companies have been and will continue to be built in the Midwest. Listen online or with Apple Podcasts.

While the holy trinity of the startup world — California, Massachusetts and New York — still made up 73.1 percent of venture funding in the U.S. last year, 14 states saw at least $1.5 billion roll into companies headquartered there, according to Crunchbase numbers. That number is up from 10 states in 2019, and only a half dozen just five years ago. Georgia — and Atlanta in particular — has a long and varied history with venture. With the dotcom boom in the late 1990s, firms popped up to take advantage of the hype. Indianapolis has a growing tech community thanks in large part to Salesforce’s $2.5 billion buy of ExactTarget in 2013. Indianapolis now houses the sales software giant’s second-largest office and startups have sprung up around the tech space. Read More

Watch up-and-coming Chicago-area startups as they pitch coastal VCs in a fast-paced mashup of SharkTank and Hollywood Squares. Tune in on June 22nd 1:30 EST for the June session of the On Ramp: Connecting the Coasts to the Heartland Virtual Series. Building a successful venture-backed company requires significant financial resources. Founders and early stage investors often default to equity, assuming that debt doesn’t work in young companies. But often, debt is just what young companies need to drive growth. Join Jeff Lampe, Managing Director of the Midwest Technology Venture Banking Group at @ Signature Bank, as he discusses when founders at early-stage companies should consider taking on debt and what type to use. Register here.

Top Startups to Watch, Beyond the Valley

Jay-Z, Pitbull Among Investors as Denver-Based Fitness Startup CLMBR Raises $13.5M

The founder and CEO of CLMBR, a Denver-based startup making an 8-foot-tall vertical climbing machine, closed last month on a $13.5 million funding round involving 29 investors — including celebrities like Jay-Z.

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Meet Helm: A New Healthcare Tech Startup Empowering People

Helm, a software-as-a-service tool that helps leaders better understand how their teams work together, recently completed beta with a crop of culture-focused Columbus companies.

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Nashville-Based Stroll Wants to be Your Personal Tour Guide

As US travel begins to come back in 2021, a Nashville-based tech startup is looking to make tourism more personal. Stroll, a location-based, personalized app, is what CEO John Mark (JM) Eberhardt describes as a local city guide mixed with Instagram.

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New Sports Tech Startup Backed by IEDC

A new state-backed firm could create opportunities for Indiana to attract companies hoping to make a mark in the growing sports technology space. SportsTech HQ Inc. will receive $2.26 million over two years as part of the state’s effort to grow Indiana’s influence and impact in the sports tech industry, giving the state a new way to market itself.

Read more