Jump Aboard the StartupBus: An Entrepreneurial Competition Like You’ve Never Seen

You gather in the wee hours of the morning with a group of strangers. One by one you board the bus and take your seats. The driver enters, and you depart on a three day trip ending in Texas. Although this sounds like it could be any routine travel experience, this adventure is anything but ordinary. This is the StartupBus: an entrepreneurial competition like you’ve never seen!

In the case I described above, the people boarding the bus are ‘buspreneurs’ ready to participate in the StartupBus competition. The journey to Texas is minor in comparison to the REAL journey that lies ahead – strangers forming teams, sharing ideas, and creating a startup company to be pitched in Texas in the span of only 3 days.

StartupBus is an entrepreneurial competition that started in North America in 2010, and this year’s race marks the 5th annual event. Based on the 2010 success, StartupBus has also expanded to Europe in 2011 and Africa in 2013.

It begins with hackers, hustlers, and hipsters applying to be accepted onto a bus. Fit is assessed and then qualifying candidates are interviewed, with the best and brightest entrepreneurs being assigned a bus in one of the established regions. This year, competitors boarded the buses on March 2nd, in a scene much like described in the opening paragraph.

But what then, you may ask? To the adventurous, budding entrepreneurs, that’s when all the fun starts. As the bus takes off, one by one people pitch their business ideas, take notes, and gauge interest in specific projects. From this, teams are formed and work begins on making that startup product or app a reality – from choosing a name and logo, to design, marketing and every detail in between.

This year’s teams also have the opportunity to work with Elance freelance workers – support staff working at home on specific project tasks. Having extra help will likely benefit the teams, but the task at hand is still daunting. Once they arrive in Texas on March 4th they must have everything worked out and be ready to pitch the idea – with a final winner being selected on March 6th.

There are seven buses in the 2014 competition, with 32 teams formed.

NORTHEAST – Departing from NYC

  • Sttack
  • Datalize.me
  • Roll
  • Smart Host
  • Sallie Will
  • MiniMap

NORTH – Departing from Seattle

  • Beander
  • Traveloo
  • Tastebuddy

SOUTHEAST – Departing from Tampa

  • coinCollectr
  • TicketSlip
  • Memzies
  • BelleLush

SOUTH – Departing from Nashville

  • Guardian Angel
  • Your Scavenger Hunt
  • TrustVino
  • On the List

MEXICO – Departing from Mexico City

  • RV Envy
  • TrustMail.io
  • Bridgefy
  • Reeact.me
  • Sticky
  • My Easy News

MIDWEST – Departing from Kansas City

  • BeautyEngine
  • Academe.io
  • AngryCorner
  • Waste-Not
  • Startup Games

WESTCOAST – Departing from San Francisco

  • TRADE-OFF
  • The Qutest
  • NutFund
  • Plumer

Each of the links above will take you to more information about the teams, team members, and their ideas. You can also follow the action on the StartupBus website, including a map that follows the buses, blog posts, daily StartupBus TV shows and playing along in a virtual investing game.

Stay tuned until March 6th at 6 pm when a final winner is crowned.

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About Jennifer Peaslee

Jennifer has a Masters in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame. She is currently working as a freelance writer, editor, blogger and researcher.