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Steve Case on successful start-ups and economic growth

Source: SXSW V2V

Steve Case took the stage at the inaugural spin-off of Austin's SXSW conference, V2V, in Las Vegas on Wednesday, where I interviewed him in an on-stage Q&A about entrepreneurs.

Case is focused on entrepreneurs both as CEO of the investment firm Revolution and as chairman of UP Global, a new organization created by Startup America and Startup Weekend. He's also co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Here are some key takeaways from our conversation.

1. "Detroit was the Silicon Valley of its day."

Case is a big believer in promoting entrepreneurship and innovation around the country, not just in the predictable regions of Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley. He called this potential to drive entrepreneurship nationwide "the rise of the rest."

He raised the example of Detroit, which went from the Silicon Valley of its day to bankrupt because innovation ground to a halt. He cited the mass exodus of locals from the city and its recent bankruptcy filing as a cautionary tale.

2. "Start-ups are the big companies of tomorrow; they fuel our economy."

Successful start-ups aren't good just for entrepreneurs and the investors behind them. Rather, Case said, they're the lifeblood of economic growth. That's why he was such a big proponent of the JOBS act and is now pushing for immigration reform to support start-ups and to drive innovation.

Case drew an analogy, asking what would happen if this country invited Chinese students to enroll at the U.S. Naval academy and, instead of letting them stay here, sent them back to China to use their new naval and military skills. He repeatedly referred to the need for immigration reform for economic growth.

3. "The second Internet revolution is about using the Internet as a platform to disrupt sectors such as education and health care."

When it comes to his investments at Revolution, Case said he's looking for game-changing start-ups—companies that are built to last rather than "built to flip."

The categories piquing his interest right now are those that haven't yet been transformed by technology, such as health care and education.This next phase of innovation will be about entrepreneurs using technological tools to reduce health-care costs and bring education to the masses.

4. "Babe Ruth was not only the home-run king, but also the strikeout king."

Like most entrepreneurs, Case is a natural optimist and stressed that persistence is key to success.

Quick acquisitions of companies such as Instagram for a massive price tag are the exception, not the rule, he said. Entrepreneurs need to stay on point and learn from pitfalls rather than getting distracted by the inevitable curves of the game.

—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin. Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.