Steve Case (left) speaks during a fireside chat with Tom Foster of Inc. magazine while visiting Atlanta as part of the Rise of the Rest tour.

Steve Case (left) speaks during a fireside chat with Tom Foster of Inc. magazine while visiting Atlanta as part of the Rise of the Rest tour. (photo/Revolution LLC)

On Tuesday, the big news dropped that Steve Case, the billionaire co-founder of AOL, would be visiting Portland on Oct. 2, 2015, to learn more about the city’s startup scene and to host a pitch competition that would end with his handing a $100,000 check to a local startup. Case’s visit is part of his Rise of the Rest bus tour, which was designed specifically to highlight startup communities outside the major hotbeds of innovation like Silicon Valley, Boston and New York City.

Since I wrote the story, I’ve received some inquiries from people who want more details, especially how to get their startup into the competition. I seek to answer all those questions in this post. If you still have questions, leave them in the comments section and I’ll see if I can find some answers.

To learn what I could, I called up Herbie Ziskend, who runs the Rise of the Rest initiative for Revolution LLC, the investment firm Case founded in 2005. Herbie will actually be in Portland later this week on an advance visit to nail down some details, like where the pitch competition will take place. He took some time to tell me more about the Portland visit and how the pitch competition will work.

How do I get to pitch my business to Steve Case?
It’s an application process. On the Rise of the Rest website, there’s a link that says “Apply to pitch.” When you click on that, it takes you to an outside website that is accepting the applications.

What’s the deadline to apply?
Sept. 13, 2015.

What kind of companies will be considered?
There are really no limitations, except that participating companies have to be growth-oriented. “It runs the gamut,” Herbie said. “We often see a lot of tech companies, but it doesn’t have to be a tech company. We’re looking for a company that could scale and create jobs in or very close to the city we’re in.”

How many companies will be chosen to pitch on Oct. 2?
There will be eight companies chosen to pitch that day.

How long will I have for my pitch?
Each of the eight entrepreneurs will have four minutes to pitch their business to a panel of judges, including Case, immediately followed by three minutes during which time the judges can ask questions. After all eight pitches are complete, the judges go into a room and come out with a winner. Viola. Someone will land $100,000 and bragging rights that Steve Case is an investor.

Does my company have to be based in Portland to pitch?
No. The goal is to highlight local companies, Herbie said, but in a relatively rural state like Maine that means any company headquartered within “reasonable driving distance” from Portland. When asked, he said Bangor-based companies would likely be allowed to participate.

Is the $100,000 an award, grant or actual equity investment? 
It’s a real equity investment from Steve Case himself, as opposed to being from one of Revolution’s funds. Ideally, Case’s investment would join a current or recent equity round (usually a Seed or Series A), but could also be in the form of a convertible note that would be included in the next financing round, Herbie said.

What does that mean to me?
It means you have to be an entrepreneur who is or will be looking to raise venture capital from investors.

Have any of Case’s previous investments made during the Rise of the Rest tour led to further investment by him or Revolution?
Not yet. But it’s still early, Herbie said. The Rise of the Rest tour only began in 2014. To date, Case has visited 14 cities and invested $100,000 in a startup at each stop (that’s $1.4 million total). However, companies that won the Rise of the Rest pitch competitions have gone on to raise millions of dollars in other venues, Herbie said. For example, Case invested $100,000 in Nashville-based Artiphon, which went on to raise $1.3 million on Kickstarter.

Is the pitch competition open to the public?
It is! But guests need to register on the Rise of the Rest website.

Why Portland? 
As soon as Case and the Rise of the Rest team decided to come to the Northeast, Portland rose to the top of the list of cities they wanted to visit. The city was on their radar because of the buzz that’s been generated by things like Maine Startup & Create Week and other national outlets taking notice, like when Popular Mechanics named Portland one of the country’s top “Startup Cities” earlier this year. “There’s a lot of momentum and we want to bring it together and help it grow,” Herbie said. “It was the potential of Portland that excited us.”