The Startup Bus rolled into Austin, TX on Thursday night after 25 entrepreneurs from 3 continents formed 6 teams and spent 2 days on the road at about 60 mph, across 1,800 miles. (I’ve heard somewhere that numbers are good, and here’s one more: 3 of the 25 entrepreneurs were women.)
I met up with them on Friday night at the Hickory St. Bar & Grill to hear their pitches (and to get a first look at their hot item t-shirts ... and to eat deep fried dill pickles and down a tequila shot or two –- this is a SXSW event after all, and Elias Bizannes, the man behind the bus did everything in style -– from rounding up the entrepreneurs, promoting the event, getting key sponsors and lining up a panel of investors, who also took the time to mentor the teams).
Sure, there are lots of holes when "companies" launch in 48 hours -– startups that have been around a lot longer get quizzed by panels they pitch to on many of the same things, including revenue model, customer awareness and even "Who the f*ck rents a dorm room?" So, overall, this event, dubbed "part gimmick, part contest" by the Wall Street Journal gave as good as it got.
There were winners, DormDorms.com (who had answers to the above question, btw "people looking for something cheaper than a hotel and cleaner than a hostel") and DateBrowsr.com (a site that will aggregate profiles from the leading online dating websites and help you cut to the chase), but really no losers. All of the ideas were fresh. And, if you take a look at the Teams section on the Startup Bus website you’ll see that all have attracted a little seed money.
I had a bit of an insider track with the Startup Bus and a number of the “buspreneurs” because of my work with ANZA Technology Network. Not only was the lead entrepreneur Bizannes originally from Down Under, so were at least 8 of the players –- most of whom have since relocated to Silicon Valley to try their hand in the so-called "big pond". Additionally, lead sponsors Atlassian and eStrategy, both founded by Australians, currently have US bases. Meanwhile, Kim Heras, an editor at NextWeb.au has got an up-to-date report on the event for the Aussie tech audience, published this morning.
Photo by KazzaDrask Media.