Innovation Happens Everywhere: We’re building a network to support it

Innovation is happening everywhere. It’s the entrepreneurs fueling that innovation that we are showcasing at the Launch Pad PITCH during Collision Conference through a supporting partnership with Microsoft.

Innovation Happens Everywhere: We’re building a network to support it

Three phenomena enable startups to be launched anywhere:

  1. Power of the Internet to connect
  2. Software as a service infrastructure to build
  3. Distribution of education to develop talent.

Given these tools, founders are building companies to solve real problems that are unique to the markets where they live.  

Rising markets, like Buffalo and Pittsburgh, offer many advantages to building businesses over the hub markets, like New York and San Francisco. For example, rising markets have great quality of life, local networks that are clearer to navigate and offer many opportunities to rise to the top, and ecosystems that are both primed for innovation and hungry for talent. Why compete for talent and investor interest in an overcrowded market, like San Francisco, where you can’t afford to live? Stay at home and bootstrap your way to traction in a market that is a welcoming laboratory for your early iterations.

The next wave of innovation in this country and around the world is what Steve Case calls the “Third Wave” in his new book of the same title.

  • The first wave was connecting people to the internet (like AOL, the company he founded).  
  • The second wave has been the services like Google, Facebook, and Salesforce that have defined the landscape over the last decade.
  • The third wave will be the innovation in traditional industries across the country as they are disrupted by software and the internet.  

Many companies at Collision exemplify the third wave. A company from San Antonio, Rising Barn, is using technology to streamline the design and construction process. Their services are cutting labor costs and build times in half, which creates more opportunities for working and middle class families to own homes. Healthcare Blocks out of Nashville offers HIPAA compliant hosting for entrepreneurs building products and services in the healthcare space. And Questis, a Fintech startup, is building upon Charleston’s leading HR tech sector in order to engage business owners who think deeply about human capital management.  

But starting (and staying) in a city outside a hub market requires building a great network. As Patrick Comer, CEO of Lucid in New Orleans used to say to me: “If a CEO is spending all their time at Launch Pad, they’re not going anywhere.” Getting out of the building often means getting on an airplane for founders in these rising markets.

That is because executive talent, customers, distribution partnership, and investors are more dense in places like the Bay Area. So you need a strong network in these hubs, which is exactly what Launch Pad and Microsoft are on a mission to help you build. We’re gathering the top startups from around the country to meet in New Orleans.

During the Launch Pad PITCH at Collision, we will be showcasing the 24 top companies from nine rising markets. Please come check out these companies on Wednesday, April 27, starting at 9am on the main floor of the convention center.

Something tells me you’ll be feeling the NOLA rhythm by then!

The work continues after the Launch Pad PITCH. We’ll be taking the show on the road and inviting these companies to our roadshow event in San Francisco on May 19th at the Microsoft Reactor. Join us for lunch to meet the Top Startups from Rising Markets.

I want to extend a thank you to all of the companies that are demonstrating that innovation happens everywhere, and making their hometowns proud at the Launch Pad PITCH.  I also want to thank Microsoft for supporting entrepreneurship wherever it exists and supporting our efforts to shine a light on these great companies.


Chris Schultz is the Co-Founder and CEO of Launch Pad. You can read his full bio here