Tag Archives: rackspace

Day 6 of StartupBus 2013: All-Star Finals

On the sixth day six after departing from San Francisco, buspreneurs gathered to socialize and to let steam off at a happy hour organized by Twillio. GhostPost brought a projector to the bar to show their anonymous live chat. The funny story is that the projector was sold to them by of a fellow busmate (from the Grassroots.io team) whose Austin-based friend the Grassroots guy to handle the Craigslist projector ad. :-) Apparently the GhostPost team weren’t happy with their defeat (and who would be?) and hustled their way through the competition to become an All-Star wildcard — and by the evening they were indeed selected as a wildcard!

StartupBus 2013 West Coast - random stop

StartupBus 2013 West Coast – random stop

Rackspace bought out the Champions sports bar in downtown Austin. GhostPost and other teams pitched during the evening to Dave McCure, Robert Scobler, and other important startup personas. The sound quality wasn’t very good. Every now and then somebody would shush the drunk, happy and tired crowd, but that didn’t help much. Despite it being very entertaining to watch Dave McClure rip apart startups and Robert (because he saw the evolution during the span of 3 days) explain and sometime defend them — in the end the decision was the same. They announced that the winner was CareerMob, and the runner up was NextChaptr.

StartupBus 2013 — Dave McClure and Rober Scoble

StartupBus 2013 — Dave McClure and Rober Scoble

Summary of StartupBus 2013

Overall StartupBus is a great experience but I can’t say that it has changed my life. :-) There are similarities to a real startup life:

  • Scarcity of resources, balance of risks and trade-offs, ample creativity to solve problems
  • Building, motivating and selling the concept to your team while pitching your idea to judges
  • Human drama: communication issues, interactions among team members in close quarters, under stress, without enough sleep, etc.
  • Startup lifestyle: exhaustion, abundance of stress

But some things are far from the reality. Mainly, in an actual startup:

  • Founders can focus not only on consumer segment, but also on small business and/or enterprise customers. Obviously, due to the lack of time and resource constraints buspreneurs targeted consumer audience.
  • Team needs to be serious and to pick not just fun and sexy ideas to get the most buzz. Solid business models usually come from ugly and boring, though concrete and painful problems.
  • These days, anyone who wants to start up a business has full-time reliable and even speedy Internet access without having to get stranded in the middle of a desert or having your mobile hot-spot picking up Mexican cell phone carriers. :-)

My conclusion is that a StartupBus trip was a good experience, but it’s not exactly the same as building a real startup.

Real StartupBus Tattoo by @claco

Real StartupBus Tattoo by @claco

StartupBus 2013 Day 5: Finals

On the final day of the StartupBus 2013, Americas hackathon competition, the judges had to choose two teams out of the six. Then, out of those two, they would pick one winner and one runner up.

Team GhostPost.io at StartupBus 2013

Team GhostPost.io at StartupBus 2013

Here are the six finalists from the previous day (to read more about that day and semi-finals go to my post: StartupBus 2013: Day 4, Semi-Finals):

  1. Grassroots.io (SF): kick-starter for activism campaigns (e.g., FixTheDMCA.org)
  2. GhostPost.io (SF): anonymous chat
  3. uSupply.me (Mexico): marketplace for construction industry
  4. NextChaptr (Chicago): book publisher with a kick-starter model
  5. CareerMob (NYC): website that helps military professionals find their civilian career
  6. Cloudspotting (Mexico): draw on photos of clouds
Team Grassroots.io at StartupBus 2013

Team Grassroots.io at StartupBus 2013

Everybody else was allowed to sleep in till 10am. An unheard of luxury, which came in handy for people who didn’t sleep well for the past week and went partying on the previous night in downtown San Antonio.

Then our pack rode shuttle buses to the same place at Rackspace HQ. We weren’t very lucky because our driver got lost, took narrow back roads, and drove in circles really slowly (more on this later).

StartupBus 2013 hacking

StartupBus 2013 hacking

The pitches of almost all of the finalists improved greatly. I especially liked how much improved Grassroots.io’s pitch (I wasn’t able to find the video but here is the GoAnimate clip). Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same about the Cloudspotting or GhostPost teams’ pitches. They just weren’t able to replicate the success of the previous night. :-( It felt like the fun aspect of the crowd cheering and support wasn’t there. Maybe the audience wasn’t surprised any more?!

After some deliberation Robert Scoble, the famous racker evangelist, announced the runner up: NextChaprt; and the winner: CareerMob! The latter decision was unexpected for a lot of people (you could see it on their faces), and many complained that CareerMob doesn’t have anything live (even a website), and has no business model whatsoever. I guess the charisma of the Air Force lieutenant made the pitch and the whole idea sound reassuring. :-)

Famous Briefskate.com prototype

Famous Briefskate.com prototype

It was time to wrap up and go to South by South West (SxSW) interactive festival in Austin, Texas. Sadly for our West Coast team and other random people who joined our bus, we had the same driver that we had in the morning. We got lost a few times again, took the longest detours back to the hotel and around Austin airport and its military base. When somebody finally gave Google Maps to the drive, we arrived to the Austin Convention Center. This marked the final stop of the bus part of StartupBus 2013 adventure. Virtually all of us pledged not to ride any type of buses for at least a few months. :-)

GhostPost.io infront of the judges

GhostPost.io infront of the judges

Photos by Ruben Lemmens