Going to SXSW? Hop Aboard the StartupBus And Hack Your Way Down

February 14, 2012

2:47 pm

It’s finally here! The first StartupBus will be leaving Washington, D.C. during the first week of March and will head down to SXSW with about 25 lucky “buspreneurs,” hackers, hipsters, and of course hustlers!

“StartupBus is an invitation-only community of hackers, hustlers and hipsters passionate about startups who compete in an annual hackathon-style competition on buses traveling across America at 60 mph towards Austin in time for SxSW, where teams will pitch to top-tier angels and VCs.”

When I got a word from Elias Bizannes, the founder of StartupBus, that they were organizing a bus from Washington, D.C., I couldn’t believe it! The first time I heard about StartupBus was back in November 2011. Later that year I went to San Francisco to interview Elias, and I wrote an article based on our conversation, urging DC to “unlock” the region.

Elias came up with the idea of StartupBus about two years ago when he was having a round of farewell drinks with his friends before leaving Australia for Silicon Valley. While we were chatting in his San Francisco office, Elias explained how the whole process works:

“In the first 6 hours people get a chance to know each other. They pitch their ideas and get organized into teams. There are usually 6 teams per bus. The rest of the time they spend on whatever they want. It’s more of 72 hour bus ride, from start to finish. When the buses arrive, there is an elimination round – the best 2 teams from each bus go to the semifinals. Then, the standouts from semifinals go to the grand final.”

Judges at the final are comprised of investors and experienced entrepreneurs.

There are 10 regions participating.  Besides Washington DC, you’ve got Boston, Las Vegas, New York City, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Louisiana (check out the video they did after the announcement), Florida, Ohio and Mexico City.   All buses leave on the morning of March 6th (as early as 4am in some cities!), arrive in San Antonio on March 8th and finally in Austin on the 9th. The grand final will be happening in the Startup Village on March 11th at 3PM.

Applications are now open and are being accepted on a rolling basis. Hackers, designers and hustlers can begin the application process by going to http://startupbus.com and connecting with their email or Facebook account. Everyone is encouraged to apply and apply soon to get a seat.

It’s more than just a hackathon. You get a chance to meet awesome people, build a startup, pitch it to investors and hang out at SXSW!  During this ride, the bus stops for lunch, dinner and at the hotels for a night. The buses also make short stops to let teams pitch their ideas to random strangers on the street.

If you’re thinking about going, here’s who you are – and who you’ll meet on your bus:

Buspreneur – You are one of those driven, maniacal world-changers

Hacker – You’re more than a coder: you’re a versatile hacker, you’re bad-ass and you do what it takes to get the job done

Hipster – You are all about UX and UI  (if you are a front-end coder, please say so)

Hustler – Your business acumen is second to none, you pitch in your sleep, you created the bubble. Innately indefinable, hustlers must prove they have the Midas touch

Go to the Startup Bus web page and fill out the application. Don’t wait, there is not much time left!

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Gulnara is passionate about technology and startups. Her goal is to make Washington, D.C. a vibrant startup playground. She is the Founder of twosidebrain.com and an Event Organizer for Weekly DC Nightowls Co-Working Sessions. Follow her on Twitter @Gulnara.

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