AOL co-founder to visit Charleston with $100K

AOL co-founder turned venture capitalist Steve Case is on a road trip to identify and invest in promising young businesses in the Southeast.

Eight Charleston area startups will be showing their stuff this week as they vie for a big investment from an Internet search pioneer.

The local firms will deliver their best business pitches at a competition Wednesday on board the aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant.

They’ll all be gunning for a $100,000 infusion from AOL co-founder Steve Case.

Case, who now heads up Revolution, a venture capital firm based in Washington, D.C., picked Charleston as one of the stops on his five-city “Rise of the Rest Road Trip.” He’s also scheduled to visit Atlanta, New Orleans, Raleigh and Richmond.

Case will be making an investment of $100,000 to a startup in each location, Revolution spokeswoman Meredith Balenske said in an email.

The local startups competing for Case’s cash and confidence are: Bublish, Good Done Great, Eatabit, Bidr, OpenAng- ler, Dynepic, Echovate and Charleston Gourmet Burger.

“The eight finalists were chosen because each of these startups has the potential to grow, create jobs in Charleston and disrupt their respective industries,” Case said in a statement. “That so many innovative and talented entrepreneurs applied to pitch, from a variety of sectors, is a clear indication that Charleston’s vibrant startup community is rising.”

Some of the startups have been part of the Harbor Entrepreneur Center’s accelerator, said John Osborne, co-founder and director of the program.

Two of them, Echovate and Good Done Great, were recent winners in a different startup competition called “Southern Series.” They’ll move on to the ultimate round in Nashville this summer.

Osborne underscored the importance of Charleston giving a good impression through this event, which he said could get the attention of other investors.

Gov. Nikki Haley and S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt are participating as well. Patrick Bryant, a co-founder of the Harbor Entrepreneur Center, will be steering a “fireside chat” between Haley and Case. Hitt will be a judge for the business pitch competition.

Case’s road trip schedule also shows visits to three local businesses: Levelwing, PeopleMatter and Rewind Candles.