“Pittsburgh’s positioned to be a leader in the next wave of technological innovation,” said Steve Case as he closed out his day-long “Rise of the Rest tour” at Thrill Mill, East Liberty. “Now, we just have to get the word out, and let the rest of the world know how great Pittsburgh really is.”

Steve Case, co-founder of AOL, visited Pittsburgh to shine a spotlight on how vibrant startup communities are gaining momentum in middle America. The visit was part of his “Rise of the Rest” four-city bus tour.

The tour included a $100,000 angel investment pitch competition which was won by SolePower LLC, whose technology transforms the natural motion from walking into a source of portable power for devices. Ten startups selected from hundreds of entries were invited to make the pitch.

Earlier in the day, Case toured Pittsburgh start-ups in the downtown area, partook in a luncheon event with business and community leaders at Carnegie Mellon University, and had a fireside chat at AlphaLab Gear to provide some insight and advice on where he thinks innovation is heading, and how start-ups can best prepare themselves for it.

He said he learned from his start-up experiences that “all start-ups go through three phases.” In the first phase, “all the focus is on the product and perfecting a product’s features.” He said it then evolves into “building content on top of the product; and ends integrating the product into the platform.”

Using the Internet as an example, Case said, “The next wave isn’t building the Internet, or all the apps that provide content on top of it. But, instead it’s integrating it into everything we do to improve our lives.” He added, “Pittsburgh is better suited to succeed in this third wave than they were in the second.”

In advice to those in the audience, Case said, “Make it your aim to tackle the big problems that make an impact. Sometimes ‘the key’ is finding the idea that no one ever knew existed and making it happen.”

The tour, which started in Detroit on Tuesday, will wind up in Cincinnati and Nashville.