Why You Should Apply for StartupBus

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Applications for StartupBus 2013 are now open. I was lucky enough to ride the NYC StartupBus last year and it was both a personal and career shaping journey. If you’re a part of, or interested in, the startup world you should strongly consider applying for this year. Not convinced? Let me tell you a bit about StartupBus and my experience with it.

What is StartupBus?

Before I get too deep into things, you may be wondering “What exactly is StartupBus?” You can find the robust and historically accurate description on the StartupBus site. Here’s my short version: StartupBus is a three day adventure where you build a startup on a bus with total strangers. There are multiple buses leaving from different cities, but all the buses journeys end in Austin, TX where a big unrelated tech conference is taking place. Sounds crazy, right?

What makes it so great?

I went into StartupBus not completely knowing what to expect. I had done a lot of hackathons and thought it may be kind of like that. I was totally wrong. StartupBus is unlike any other experience I’ve had. Here are a handful of things (in no specific order) that I think make it especially great.

1) You’re encouraged to work with people you don’t really know prior to the bus. When Nate, Jen, Pnts, Johan, Rob and I organized around Nate’s idea for a happiness app, we may have only loosely known of each other. By the end of the trip, it was like a crew of friends who had known each other for years. We shared this intense and awesome experience together that I don’t think any of us will ever forget.

2) The focus is to create something that could be a real startup. As a team you don’t just work on a product, but also a business model and creating a good pitch. Our team created a happiness tracking app called Happstr, and in the process we learned about markets we didn’t know existed before the bus. I, personally, learned about approaching ideas in a completely new way (especially thanks to Mike Caprio the inspiring conductor for the 2012 NYC StartupBus). You can read a bit about Happstr in Mashable and The Atlantic.

3) StartupBus exposes you to a robust startup landscape that you may not know exists. Our first night on the bus we stopped in Nashville. There was a big welcome party for us at the Hard Rock Cafe where we got to meet with some awesome people from the Nashville startup scene. The next morning we visited the Entrepreneur Center where we were able to get some awesome mentoring and pitch coaching. The following night we stopped over in Baton Rouge, where once again we got to meet some of the best and brightest in the Louisiana scene. Oh yeah, and along the way you’re connecting with buses from other cities. So you get to meet not only awesome people from your stopovers, but from other buses, too. It’s easiest to get caught up in the tech circle where I live, and StartupBus was an amazing reminder of how much bigger this all is than just a city or region.

4) Building something in a compressed amount of time under extreme conditions is extremely rewarding. Internet on the bus was inconsistent, our team had never worked together before, and we were running on little sleep. For me, that makes what we created that much more exciting.

5) It doesn’t end once the trip is over. StartupBus is a engaged and active community that supports and encourages each other. I’ve been amazed by how supportive Busprenuers have been to each other outside of what happens on the bus.

Have you applied yet?

Seriously, go apply. I promise you won’t regret it.