Once upon a time (um…like 2010), one guy named Elias Bizannes launched one bus to South by Southwest (SXSW). The 2010 Startup Bus left San Francisco bound and determined to make it to Austin, TX in three days with about two dozen hackers and associated tech startup types on board. They ate, drank (maybe a little) and slept (even less) over the course of 48 hours, while breaking into teams of 4 or 6 to create startup businesses.
When they arrived at SXSW, they pitched their business ideas to investors. The idea wasn’t so much to create the next billion dollar company (or even a real working app for the iStore). It was about community, camaraderie and the idea that those who shared the Startup Bus experience would meet again, in Silicon Valley, or elsewhere as careers developed and time allowed to start up something serious.
It sounded like a one-off. Great idea, lots of fun and the kind of thing that would be looked back upon when the Web 2.0 bubble burst with a sort of warped nostalgia, like Web 1.0 survivors look back on the Pets.com Sock Puppet. Or not…at least not yet.
The 2012 Startup Bus fleet rolls out next week with 10 buses bound for Austin from numerous points in the US and even one from Mexico. This has grown from six buses in 2011, and even a European bus last year that made a similar trek to Le Web. To date, more than 200 Startup Bus “buspreneurs” have launched nearly 50 early-stage products as a result of these intensive, 60 mph sessions. There is real interest in what comes out of The Startup Bus and there is still time to get on board.