AOL Co-Founder Tours Des Moines Start-Ups

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Much like a bar crawl, Steve Case's "Start-Up Crawl", as part of his "Rise of the Rest Bus Tour", is taking him from one business to the next across the Midwest.

"We're trying to put a start-up on the map, but we're really trying to put Central Iowa on the map," he said. "And make sure the story around American entrepreneurship - which is not limited to California or New York, it's all over the country - that story gets told by rolling our bus through the middle of the country."

The America Online co-founder says finding success in a start-up business doesn't have to be limited to the Silicon Valley, especially with the digital age we're now in. As his bus tour makes its way through Des Moines Wednesday, one new start-up in the city will walk away with $100,000 in investment from Case after a pitch competition held that afternoon.

The winner of that competition not only walks away with money, but a chance for more money: they'll represent Des Moines on the national stage at a second pitch competition held in Austin, Texas.

Case, along with several of the area's  young entrepreneurs, toured a few of Des Moines' known start-ups, including Dwolla and Social Money.

Ben Milne, founder of Dwolla, says it shouldn't be about trying to make Des Moines the "next" Silicon Valley; rather, he says it's about keeping the technically talented in Iowa.

"I don't think it's necessarily about creating the next Silicon Valley, but it's about creating a better Iowa," he said. "And we can create new jobs in Iowa by leveraging technology, and we can do that in other places as well. Iowa already has a great hot-bed of technical people who are very talented, that are looking for great work. And places like Dwolla are places where they can come and be happy."

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