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Lancaster’s Aspire Ventures hosts AOL founder during ‘Rise of the Rest’ tour

Downtown tech firm one of several stops in day-long event

AOL Founder Steve Case listens to a presentation about Aspire Ventures' Connexion health kiosks during a visit Tuesday to the Lancaster tech company. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

Step inside the booth, fully clothed, and it can help pinpoint the cause of musculoskeletal pain.

Officials with Lancaster-based Aspire Ventures hope their health care kiosks, branded Connexion, could be one of the “next big things” in health care.

That the technology was developed in Central Pennsylvania elicited a blunt question from tech investor and AOL founder Steve Case on Tuesday morning.

“Most people would say you can’t really do this in Central Pennsylania,” Case said. “You would have to be in a place like Silicon Valley or Boston. How would you respond?”

Mike Monteiro, Aspire’s chief product officer, didn’t miss a beat.

“We already did it. That’s how I would respond,” Monteiro said.

The purpose of Case’s visit to the region is to help other companies capture that same spirit of entrepreneurial achievement — through conversations and cash.

Case today brought his Rise of the Rest roadtrip to York, Lancaster and Dauphin counties to visit local startups, entrepreneurs, business leaders and government officials to discuss the startup ecosystem in Central Pennsylvania. 

Rise of the Rest is a three-year-old nationwide initiative designed to support and promote entrepreneurs in emerging startup regions — “the rest.”

Case will lead a “fireside chat” and “pitch party” this afternoon and evening at the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center, at which nine Pennsylvania entrepreneurs will have a chance to tell Case why they deserve $100,000 in start-up funding. The investment cash will come from Revolution LLC, the Washington, D.C.-based venture-capital firm Case co-founded.

Aspire is not one of the pitch competitors, but was a key stop designed to give Case a feel for how it and other midstate firms are contributing to a rich tech culture.

You can make it here

Case pressed Monteiro gently on what brought him, personally, to Lancaster.

There was a personal connection — Monteiro’s wife has local ties — but for Monteiro, the story was more complex.

When he was finishing his MBA at Stanford University, Monteiro said a professor told him flatly that no life-changing technology could be created outside California’s Silicon Valley.

“My personal ambition is prove him wrong,” Monteiro said.

Case smiled.

“I hear that all the time,” he said of the professor’s claim. And, Case added, his tour is designed to challenge such viewpoints and ensure that “the rest will rise.”

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com.

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