Founder’s Story: From Reboot to $4B Economic Impact, a Decade with Rev1

In this special edition of the Rev1’s Founders’ Story series, CEO Tom Walker, COO Kristy Campbell and Mike McCann, Chief of Innovation Partnerships, share the journey of building a startup that helps other startups to start up.


Tom Walker wasn’t looking to leave his home state when Columbus came calling, but then he went for a visit. “What struck me,” he said, “was the opportunity. This was a solid economy that had weather economy bumps. There were many Fortune 1000 companies. Everyone I met in Columbus was aspirational. I thought this was a place we could band together and build something—and we have.”

Rev1 has served over 1,000 startup clients collectively generating over $4B in economic impact to the Columbus region.

“It has been a strategy of partnerships, of the assets in our backyard to fund the startup community here,” Walker said.

In this entertaining video of truth and transparency, the Rev1 executive team shares lessons learned over the last decade (and hundreds of person-years). Highlights include:
  • A resounding confirmation of the unique value-add that Columbus’s collaborative Backyard Effect continues to bring to the entrepreneurial community here;
  • A frank discussion of how Rev1 is navigating the gaps in the capital market to make Columbus one of the most active regions for seed capital;
  • A clear statement of what it takes to deliver when diversity and inclusion are not negotiable, not for Rev1 and not for the companies in Rev1’s portfolio, and
  • Tips for startups that see the power in partnering with corporate innovators—what it takes and how to start.
Elio Harmon, session moderator and founder of 614Startups, keeps the session lively. This “10 Years with Rev1 session goes fast.” Dig deeper with these 614Startups podcasts featuring Rev1 portfolio companies. You’ll be glad you did.


About the speakers

Elio Harmon is the founder of 614Startups, the fastest growing community of startup founders, investors, and small business owners in Columbus, OH. 614Startups is building a media company to tell the story of Columbus’ entrepreneurial ecosystem and provide brands with a platform to reach the decision-makers shaping the city’s future. Our goal is to become the entrepreneur’s go-to source for startup news and information in the Midwest.

Kristy Campbell, Chief Operating Officer of Rev1 Ventures, leads operations. She supports cross-team delivery of client services – including talent programs, corporate partnerships, infrastructure (via Rev1 Labs’ innovation center), and access to investment capital. Kristy also leads Rev1’s Inclusive Entrepreneurship efforts, focused on reducing bias and improving access to resources and capital for underserved inventors and entrepreneurs. Prior to joining Rev1, Kristy spent her 20+ year career working within multiple high-growth, venture-backed startups. She serves on the advisory board for multiple non-profits, including Cultivate SMB and the START Fund, and is a frequent speaker on startup, marketing, and inclusion best practices and has been featured in EntrepreneurHuffington PostAxiosVenture BeatYahoo and other top entrepreneur media outlets.

Mike McCann, Chief of Innovation Partnerships, works closely with hundreds of entrepreneurs and corporate leaders across industries to deliver innovation programs that drive strategic impacts and growth. A true connector, Mike links entrepreneurs and partners to validate concepts, provide industry mentorship, and build strategic relationships, from the earliest point in the startup process to companies entering growth stages. He has spent more than a decade in venture-backed startups, new product launches, and in venture development, helping entrepreneurs and corporate innovators connect and grow.

Tom Walker, founding President & CEO of Rev1 Ventures. Under Tom’s leadership, Rev1 has become an internationally recognized venture development organization that catalyzes, connects and supports the growth of tech-enabled, high-growth startups and the most active venture fund with the Midwest. With a career spanning nearly 30 years in innovation, Tom is a leader in driving innovation with large corporations, research institutions, and communities, especially where it aims to better lives and business outcomes. A frequent industry speaker, Tom has received numerous industry awards, including a finalist in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year. He is a regular contributor to and a Forbes Council member and contributor. Tom authored The Entrepreneur’s PathA Handbook for High-Growth Companies and is contributing author to Biotechnology Entrepreneurship, First and Second Editions. A founder and board member of the national Angel Capital Association, he has advised several United States and England regions on building entrepreneurial infrastructure and ecosystems and testified multiple times before the United States Congress on entrepreneurs, venture capital, and the expansion of life sciences, applied research, and commercialization.