Billionaire, AOL Co-founder visits northeast Wisconsin for his startup initiative

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NORTHEAST WISCONSIN (WBAY-TV) Billionaire and AOL co-founder Steve Case brought his bus tour to northeast Wisconsin on Tuesday.

The visit is part of an effort to highlight emerging markets for startup companies that aren't called Silicon Valley.

"Last year Wisconsin got less than 1% of venture capital in the United States, California alone got 50%," said Case.

Case wants to see more investment in business ventures in places like Wisconsin.

"Entrepreneurship is alive and well, everywhere, not just on the coast," said Case.

"Rise of the Rest" with Case is on a bus tour visiting spots in the northeast Wisconsin.

This area was chosen because of the efforts of Launch Wisconsin, a non-profit startup of its own that connects people and innovative ventures.

"It tells the outside world that the there's something going on here that's worth getting access to,” John Ernst, CEO of Launch Wisconsin said. “Now further, we also want to bring in the outside world in and teach our own people that there's something going on outside my bubble."

Case toured four local companies Tuesday morning all believed to be evidence of an emerging economy in this part of the state.

"For one that was mostly focused on manufacturing, on making things to really much more knowledge, technology, around digital transformation," said Craig Dickman, CEO of Breakthrough Fuels.

"If you want to have a strong community 25 years from now, you have to invest in your startup today,” Case said. “It's kind of like the seed corn; plant and fertilize and some of those will grow up to be the big Fortune 500 companies."

Local startups also made a pitch today for a $100,000 investment from Case.

Lanehub, a social network for transportation, won.