Five years ago Mike Butera, the founder of Artiphon, a Rise Of The Rest winner, was living on Music Row in Nashville when he had an idea to reinvent the musical instrument as an adaptive, smart device. Mike started to blend mobile products with instrument ergonomics (it helps that he has a PhD in Sound Studies). By sharing prototypes with aspiring musicians in Nashville as well as experts in the city’s emerging tech scene, Mike created a multi-instrument that is shooting up the sales charts.
Artiphon raised $1.3 million on Kickstarter, making it the most successful crowdfunded musical instrument project in history. And last week, TIME Magazine named Artiphon a top 25 Best Invention of 2015.
(If you want to get ahead of Holiday shopping, Artiphon recently opened additional pre-orders for the INSTRUMENT 1 on its website www.artiphon.com.)
Mike’s success is due to his passion for the integration of music and tech, which are both core components of Nashville’s 21st century DNA. Through programs like Project Music at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, we’re likely to continue to see similar success stories.
After traveling through 19 cities during our “Rise of the Rest” bus tours and visiting dozens of other communities to meet with startups across the country, it is becoming clear that some of the great innovations are happening in places that might surprise you.
Mike isn’t in Nashville by accident; Nashville was a magnet, attracting Mike and hundreds of other entrepreneurs fascinated with the #MusicTech possibilities, and eager to start their companies in a city that is perfectly suited to serve as a petri dish of innovation. Sure, he could have chosen to start Artiphon in San Francisco, New York, or Boston, where venture capital is more plentiful, but he concluded the unique spirit, culture and legacy of Nashville was the place he wanted to hang up his shingle.
Mike is not alone. Some of the most promising startups we’ve backed are made possible by the places they choose when they are ready to start.
Shinola, a Revolution Growth company, decided to start up in Detroit. Founder Tom Kartsotis believed Detroit could be a comeback city, and opted to grow Shinola in a Detroit building that once housed automobile innovation. Now hundreds of former auto workers have been retrained to craft beautiful watches, bicycles, handbags and notebooks. And Shinola’s “Where American is Made” ethos is being brought to cities around the world, including New York, London and Washington DC.
OrderUp, a Revolution Ventures company, is predicated on offering the on-demand economy to smaller markets nationwide. Co-founders, Chris Jeffery and Jason Kwicien didn’t need to test the hypothesis that online food ordering and delivery didn’t have to be limited to San Francisco, New York, and Chicago. They knew it to be true by living and growing the business in their home market: Baltimore. Their passionate employees are fired up to solve a problem they faced in Charm City. A few months ago the innovation at OrderUp was noticed by Chicago-based Groupon, and that led to a successful acquisition.
Wealthforge in Richmond, Virginia won a Rise of the Rest investment earlier this year. Founders Mat Dellarso and Fred Bryant are building a successful fintech company in a city that’s a hub of investing and banking. From Suntrust to Wells Fargo to Capital One, Mat and Bryant are leveraging the local assets– and their own passion for Richmond – to grow the business.
Our thesis at Revolution is that great companies can start and scale anywhere. But it’s not just a concept. Increasingly, it’s a reality. The rest is rising!