I recently received the heads up that I might be attending SXSWi 2012. This would be my first time attending SXSW and I have been excitingly researching details regarding the event. Thats when I came across Elias Bizannes’s creation called “The StartupBus”. The concept is simple:
“YOU AND A TEAM OF STRANGERS, ON A BUS TRAVELING AT 60 MILES PER HOUR, HAVE 72 HOURS TO CONCEIVE, BUILD, AND LAUNCH A STARTUP.”
While this concept is not new, it is ingenious that it takes place on a bus. I have attended and ran many developer conferences such as WinMoDevCamp which have a similar premise of creating an offering to be made available after a certain period of time, say 24 or 48 hours. Those of you who have competed in such events know the challenges associated with said initiatives. More often that not however, you are attending the event with a colleague and/or friend in the comfort of a well connected, well lit facility on some cozy campus while being tended to. Imagine doing the same on a Bus traveling for 72 hours on route to Austin Texas with 25 complete strangers coupled with possible Internet outages and possible poor lighting and facilities (IE lack of power outlets, one restroom, etc). While this opportunity may not be for the faint of heart, it is, as Wile E. Coyote used to say, “Simply Genius” as I feel adversity drives ingenuity.
The StartupBus idea was at first a joke amongst Elias Biz and his friends around launching a startup on route from San Fransisco to SXSW. Elias turned the joke into a startup which flocks of hackers, hustlers and hipsters passionate about startups have been desperately applying to in order to receive an acceptance email to board the bus for the past 3 years. In its inaugural trip, 25 people developed six functional prototype web services and demonstrated them in front of a panel of high-profile investors in Austin. The winning team wound up being funded to help turn their prototype into a genuine startup and form a community. Since that historic first trip, the StartupBus has grown. The 2011 adventure included 156 so-called “buspreneurs” who took on the challenge en route to SXSW and put together 38 products. For last year’s Le Web conference, StartupBus headed to Europe and took 20 buspreneurs on a trip through the country building five amazing products. The 2012 running of the StartupBus renews its journey to SXSW but will have competing teams coming from several new locations, including Florida, Cincinnati, Louisiana, Mexico, Las Vegas, Washington, DC, and Boston.
I too wanted to be on the StartupBus as who better than your’s truly, the mobile world’s silver tongue hustler, to provide ideas for, build a business plan around and confidently pitch an idea in front of a panel of esteemed judges who this year include:
- Robert Scoble (Rackspace)
- David Cohen (TechStars)
- Naval Ravikant (AngelList)
- Dave McClure (500Startups)
I applied and was interviewed shortly their after by the conductor of the Boston Bus, Igor Lebovic. Igor was a member of last year’s winning team Tripmedi, an aggregator for medical tourism. Impressed with my interview, Igor then sent me an acceptance email a week later inviting me to come aboard the Boston Bus to compete. I was elated that I was one of the 300 hand-picked entrepreneurs will board 10 buses bound for Austin. Sadly, I was unable to take the time off needed to compete having recently come back from vacation. I cannot express how disappointed I am that I cannot board that bus and hope to have the opportunity to do so next year.
The StartupBus represents North America wide stage to showcase your creativity and business savvy at the most highly regarded social media and startup gathering of the year. It also provides part of an answer to the world’s unstable economy promoting growth thorough opportunities derived through the initiative. If 25 strangers on a bus can create a new opportunity that could help lift the economy why couldn’t others do the same.
I hope to make it down to SXSWi to thank Elias and team for starting The StartupBus providing both a sizable opportunity for Buspreneurs to showcase their talents and showing the world opportunity is but a bus ride away.