StartupBus: The Incubator That Goes 60mph

StartupBus logo
What do you get when you gather a group of complete strangers, put them on a bus going 60 miles an hour for 3 days? Hopefully, a startup.

Yes, a startup.

At least, that's what the folks behind Startupbus hope will happen. And after two successful years running the program, the odds are pretty much in their favour.

According to the StartupBus website, the idea started off as a joke:
"a roadtrip starting in San Francisco with friends, but with the twist of launching a startup on arrival in Austin in time for the SxSW technology conference."
It kicked off in 2010 with 25 people and has grown to an annual event happening in multiple locations around the globe, the most recent consisting of 5 buses full of people who worked their way to (and presented their pitch at) Le Web 2013 in Paris.

What happens on the bus?

Strangers get on at a particular destination for a 3-4 day trip. The ones with startup ideas already forming can pitch them to the rest of the folks on the bus and form teams to get working. The teams build plans, prototypes, marketing strategies and, most importantly, pitches. At the end of the trip, the teams compete by pitching their various business ideas. And the lucky ones get funded.

I think the word "pressure cooker" was used somewhere on their site or in their promo video. Sounds about right.

How do you get on the bus?

First you have to ask to be invited. And to get invited, you pretty much have to beg. You can stalk them on their Facebook page or Twitter account and convince them you've got what it takes. If they think you're worthy, you get an invitation and then you have to apply to get on the bus. There's not much competition; just a few thousand other like-minded people with startup ideas or mad coding skillz. Apparently they need 3 types of people: hustlers (sales people), hackers (developers) and hipsters (designers).

As former "buspreneur" Esther Gons blogged on the site, "When was the last time you did something that frightened you?"

This sounds like the kind of thing that would have intimidated the crap out of me in my twenties. I did my time in a variety of startups, all of which were certainly pressure cookers. But they were the most intense learning experiences in my career. Despite all the layoffs and lack of job security, I would not have traded them in for anything. StartupBus brings the adrenaline and pressure of those jobs into a sterile, time-constrained environment. I can only imagine what an exhausting and fantastic experience it must be.

(Source: Swissmiss)

FYI: I’m this month's speaker at Girl Geek Dinner Ottawa. Join me this Wednesday, January 30th for some IRL geeky goodness. For more info, check out the event details and a sneak peek at my talk.

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