The Rise of the Rest seed fund announces its first group of investments

The Rise of the Rest seed fund’s first round of startup investments cover eight states that are usually overlooked by tech investors, including Kentucky, South Carolina and Ohio. The $150 million fund was launched in December by Steve Case and J.D. Vance, with backing from many of America’s most influential businesspeople, to support tech ecosystems outside of Silicon Valley, New York City and other major hubs.

The Rise of the Rest seed fund is part of Revolution, the investment firm also launched by Case, a co-founder and former chief executive officer of AOL. Its first investments are listed below.

  • AppHarvest (Pikeville, Kentucky) develops high-tech greenhouses for farms that use less fuel and no pesticides. Its goal is to help eastern Kentucky’s economy recover from the loss of coal mining jobs.
  • Catalyte’s (Baltimore, Maryland) algorithms identify job candidates who show promise for software engineering positions, but might be overlooked by traditional HR practices. It was created to keep companies from having to outsource tech jobs overseas while also creating more diverse workforces. Revolution participated in Catalyte’s $27 million Series A.
  • Cotopaxi (Salt Lake City, Utah), which creates activewear using sustainable material and supply chains, also sets aside part of its revenue to make grants to non-profits around the world.
  • ENGAGE Talent’s (Charleston, South Carolina) software helps companies attract and recruit “passive talent,” or valuable candidates who aren’t actively planning to leave their current jobs, but can be persuaded to take a new position with the right incentives.
  • Losant (Cincinnati, Ohio) is an enterprise Internet of Things platform that allows companies to manage devices and end-user apps and analyze data in real-time to make sure everything is working directly.
  • SafeChain Inc. (Columbus, Ohio) is a blockchain startup focused on the real estate industry. Its SafeWire software is designed to verify bank accounts and keep wire transfers safe while reducing the amount of time it takes to close a property sale.
  • SEEVA (Seattle, Washington) builds software and hardware systems that help cars operate safely in poor weather conditions, including snowstorms and heavy rain, by automatically clearing debris from windshields, cameras and other equipment. Rest of the Rise’s investment was part of a $2 million round Seeva raised to target the autonomous vehicle market.
  • ZenBusiness (Austin, Texas) is an online service that lets business owners create an LLC or corporation for free.
  • Zylo (Indianapolis, Indiana) is a SaaS optimization platform that lets companies manage all the software-as-as-service subscriptions used.

The seed fund shares its name with a bus tour that Case launched in 2014 to host startup events across the country. Revolution also announced that the Rise of the Rest tour will return in May, with stops in Birmingham, Chattanooga, Dallas, Louisville and Memphis. During the tour, the Rest of the Rise seed fund will invest $100,000 into a startup at each stop.

(Disclosure: AOL was TechCrunch’s parent company before merging with Yahoo to create Oath, which now owns TechCrunch.)