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Susie Steiner – Leaving a (Hopefully) Indelible Mark

StartupBus Miami 2011 Crew

The Tampa contingent of StartupBus FL 2011 (Miami Bus)

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece

- John Ruskin

Susie Steiner was a original member of the StartupBus Florida family, but so, so, so much more. She passed away last week and it has taken some time to get my thoughts together enough to write a note here.  I wasn’t sure if, when, or where I would ever post this, to be honest. I decided to post it here out of respect for what Susie meant to our whole community.

Most of us knew her as a friend, a mentor, a sponsor, an advocate.  While that is all true, it doesn’t come close to describing Susie.  Those are the kind of platitudes that aren’t befitting one of the most complex people I have ever met.

Compatriot, leader, partner-in-crime, true believer, damn-can-I-be-you, fuck-all-this-work-let’s-do-a-margarita-lunch conspirator… Maybe that’s closer to how I knew her, but it still falls short.  I could tell you about all her work with StartupBus, Startup Weekend, Up Global, her half dozen (or more) active startups, how many “people to watch” lists featured her, and how she did all that while running a successful transportation and logistics company.  While that is amazing, it still doesn’t capture the essence of how impressive Susie was as a human.

Susie would literally run across the world if the cause was noble. She was the most complex, interesting, and fun to watch person I have ever met. Fascinating. that’s probably the right word.

How can someone who bestows so much awesome – so much amazingness – so much grace-mixed-with-complexity… to everything that she touches be gone?  Why is the world allowed to be so “m’eh” mixed with bullshit if she is allowed to be taken from us… It’s not fair. It’s not right. She made this place better. For literally everyone.

Some people dedicate themselves to standing up for kids that don’t have a voice. Some people connect the lines to help build a tech ecosystem. Some people have the balls to build businesses. Some people have the soft touch to get EVERYONE to jump on board their cause. Susie was lucky enough to be all those people together and so much more.  She commanded respect without demanding it.  I’m still not close to describing the entirety of who she was. But for those lucky enough to have been touched by her, there is no replacement.

I know how empty things feel around Tampa right now – so it’s not just me that has a place Susie occupied in their heart – a place that feels a bit empty, raw, and tender.  She had so many different facets to her life, certainly people all over world feel the same way. I only had the privilege to call Susie my friend for the last four years or so – I can’t imagine how her family and those that knew her for forever must be hurting… I wish I could hug you all.

To remember Susie and serve her memory well is to remember the ways she impacted my life and certainly so many others.  For me, I can distill much of that down to this:

Action is way more impressive than talking
Doing good is better than doing well.  

That’s what Susie exemplified in word and deeds.  Now that I think about it, it’s time I focus on making things better, not just doing more work.  I hope anyone and everyone who knew Susie will do the same.  Amazing things will happen. You might not change the world in a day, but you can change someone’s life by imparting those simple lessons she demonstrated to us.

Practice rather than preach. Make of your life an affirmation, defined by your ideals, not the negation of others. Dare to the level of your capability then go beyond to a higher level.

- Alexander Haig

We all miss the hell out of you already, Susie.  There will never be another, that’s for certain.

Only a great friend will take pictures with you when you are a grown ass man with a ridiculous mohawk

Only a great friend will take pictures with you when you are a grown ass man with a ridiculous mohawk

Lisnr, Founded on the Midwest StartupBus, Closes $3.5m in Funding

0 Lisnr StartupBus

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Lisnr Inc. … just closed on a $3.5 million Series A round, the company’s founder and Chief Executive Rodney Williams told Venture Capital Dispatch.

LISNR is a comprehensive, mobile engagement platform that uses audio-beacon technology.

Lisnr embeds tones, which are inaudible to the human ear, into digital media, as well as into speakers at live events such as sporting games. Its technology is also incorporated into various mobile apps. 

Lisnr was founded on the Midwest StartupBus out of Cincinnati in 2012. The company is already generating revenue. From the WSJ:

The company expects to have between $1 million and $2 million in revenue this year, up from about $500,000 in 2013, Mr. Williams said. The company charges its customers based on how many different types of tones the customer wants, what content it wants to trigger–a simple text message or a video, for example–and for how long it wants to run its campaign.

Read More on The Wall Street Journal Blog

Photo Credit: fr4dd Creative Commons license (Photo has been cropped)

SpaceApps Featured in White House Award Submission

0 NASA Space Apps StartupBus

Furthering the awesomeness that is the StartupBus community, SpaceApps, an event that owes some early momentum to the StartupBus alumni community is being featured by NASA & the White House in their submission to the White House’s Open Government Awards (Open Government Awards & Open Government Partnership).



We’re thrilled to announce that the International Space Apps Challenge is one of several programs featured in the White House application for the Open Government Partnership’s new Open Government Awards, which recognizes efforts to improve government policies and to better serve citizens through two-way engagement. - Read More at open.nasa.gov

Be sure to check out the letter written by Mike Caprio on behalf of StartupBus.

StartupBus Alumnus’ Instacart Raises $44M

0 Instacart StartupBus Brandon Leonardo

According to Forbes:

Instacart, the San Francisco startup that uses a distributed network of smartphone-equipped shoppers to provide home delivery from supermarkets in as little as an hour, has raised $44 million in new funding, bringing the total amount of capital it’s raised to $55 million.

Read More on Forbes.com

Back in March we caught up with Brandon Leonardo, who cofounded Instacart with Max Mullen after meeting on the Silicon Valley bus. Here’s part of the story:

I became the first engineer at AngelList as a result of the inaugural StartupBus event and an introduction from Elias to Naval. While at AngelList, I got to know Apoorva Mehta because we worked in the same co-working space. I met Max Mullen a few months later while conducting the Silicon Valley StartupBus. A couple years later the three of us started working together on Instacart.

Brandon Leonardo, co-founder Instacart

Congrats to Brandon and Max!

And now without further ado, the new European directors 2014!


We are excited to announce the European directors for the next year. Whilst the discussions are ongoing for other community leaders (expect more news!), the following three amazing people will lead our entire operation in Europe with the focus being our annual competition in late 2014. They have proved themselves in our organisation for the last couple of years and we can talk on for hours about them but maybe best to just do a show and tell..

Hans van Gent Hans van Gent Hans was a Viking Buspreneur in 2012, a conductor of the Benelux bus in 2013 (delivering the number one and two in last years Europe competition), and is now going to be one of our directors for Europe. With a focus on “experience” — he is to ensure ‘customer happiness’  to the buspreneurs participating and sponsors who subsidise the experience.

When not creating the best experience ever for everybody involved, he works in (digital) advertising as a Senior Account for DigitasLBi. If that isn’t enough he helps form founders and ideas into problem solvers and pain killers at Evolv Weekend throughout Europe.

Hans van Gent on LinkedIn - Hans van Gent on Twitter

Rose Jeantet

Rose JeantetRose was a buspreneur in the German bus in 2012, then became conductor for The French bus in 2013, and co-hosted StartupBusTV for North America 2014. She is now our first female director of Europe, and second ever.

With a focus on “people”, Rose will oversee the entire recruitment process and ensuring only the very best European hustlers, hackers and hipsters get on board.

When not casting talent around Europe, Rose dedicates her time for the sister company of StartupBus, “StartupHouse” which is an incubator in San Francisco and travels between the US and Europe.

Rose Jeantet on LinkedIn - Rose Jeantet on Twitter

Marko Müller

Marko Müller Marko was a conductor of the German bus in 2012 due to his previous experience on a related event and a European director in 2013 running European operations, with in 2014 having a focus on “revenue” — he will drive our fundraising and cash management; moreover, he’ll concentrate on long-term customer relations.

When not raising and counting money, Marko – a Design Thinking enthusiast – currently works as consultant (still at Accenture) and will move forward as Business Inspirator.

Marko Müller on LinkedIn - Marko Müller on Twitter

So that’s them, give them a warm welcome whenever you see them around and if you are interested to help them out with the competition of 2014 by wanting to organise a bus be sure to contact them!

Conducting the First Kansas City StartupBus

0 Ricky Robinett Kansas City StartupBus

Ricky Robinett was one of two conductors on the inaugural Kansas City StartupBus. In this blog post, Ricky recounts some of the lessons learned and some of the more harrowing experiences on the route including this excerpt about driving on ice and spontaneous karaoke.

I-40W headed towards Little Rock is covered in ice and the bus has traveled 30 miles in 6 hours. I’m beginning to fear that I may have to tell the 20 entrepreneurs riding along that we’re going to pull over and sleep on the bus. That’s when it happens. Someone asks our bus driver Eddie to crank the radio and starts singing karaoke. It’s not long before the entire bus has joined in and we forget about the extreme circumstances we’re in. For me, this moment embodies what it was like to conduct the 2014 Midwest StartupBus. I was surrounded by incredible people who were constantly amazing me and I wanted to share a few things they taught me.

Read More “What Conducting The Midwest Startupbus Taught Me”

On the future of StartupBus


I never thought StartupBus would become what it has.  What started as an experiment has become a global phenomenon. Not just in what the world has seen with the events we produce (and the companies associated with our community), but also in the way StartupBus operates. The entire StartupBus organisation is run by people who once upon a time rode a bus themselves. And when I say people, I’m speaking of the 1000+ to be involved as participants, I’ve personally worked with hundreds of them in this capacity. How many global organisations touching hundreds of communities around the world do you know where the entire organisation is run by its customers and no full time employees? Burning Man as a company  has achieved this on a great scale — they are to me a great example of a hybrid Starfish and Spider organisation that I would like StartupBus to become.

When I say “customers”, let me put this in context with a StartupBus success story – or more specifically, the reason why I do this year on year. Brandon Leonardo, a highly talented but equally unconfident engineer, was on that first ever bus.  He quit his job and worked full time on StartupBus several times. Because of StartupBus, he found a job as one of the first engineers of AngelList, where he met his co-founder (the third co-founder Max Mullen is another StartupBus community leader).  They created Instacart which raised $8.5m from Seqouia capital and executed beautifully. Brandon’s (and Max’s) story, just one of many that I’m proud of — is the embodiment of our vision, which is to empower the people who can disrupt the status quo in order to create a better life for us all.

Now in our fifth year, I’ve been actively thinking about what’s next for StartupBus. I think about how this unique kind of organisation will exist without depending on any one person. To exist without falling into irrelevance due to a changing marketplace. To continue to grow and achieve our vision with new offerings and in new geographies.

In my eyes, to make this a sustainable organisation, it needs three things: it needs the right people running it, consistent cashflow to fund our operations, and good governance – which is what I am formally announcing today:

Global Community Council and Tribal Community Councils

For the next year, we’ll be running another experiment whereby the community will advise me and the directors on how to run the organisation. My hope is that this body becomes the way we run the organisation in the future, similar to how a legislature would work; with the directors as the executive branch that’s appointed by them (and I deliberately use a parliamentary example and not a board of directors comparison, as traditional companies operate like a tyranny). There will be a Global Community Council (GCC)  and Tribal Community Councils (TCC) in each of the continents we currently operate (North America, Europe, and Africa). The inaugural 2014 Global Community Council and  Tribal Community Councils will have a charter task to prepare and submit a plan regarding the future structure of StartupBus. I will be asking each TCC and, in-turn, the GCC to prepare a submission on the future setup of StartupBus as a global organisation run entirely by the community. The GCC will have a highly influential role in the recommendations that will be implemented by me and the team of directors. My goal is to take their recommendations very seriously and make this a test for what could become a new decision making group by the community.

Tribal Community Council (TCC)


  • Advise the regional directors and global directors on ad hoc needs.
    • The first one will be to complete the inaugural charter task of submitting a plan for the future governance to the Global Community Council via their representative on the GCC, and informing the directors of their plans to assist in generating discussions.
  • Provide a review of the performance of the directors in a tribe (North America, Europe, Africa)
  • Send a representative on the Global Community Council to ensure there is a voice for each major grouping of the community.

TCC Details:

  • The North American Tribal Council,  European Tribal Council, and African Tribal Council will have a minimum requirement of three people to make it active and a maximum of six available spots.
  • To stand for a position on a TCC, you must have ridden in the competition pertaining to that region (North America, Europe, or Africa).
  • No one person can hold a position across multiple community councils.  A director cannot be on a community council, but will be a part of it as an ex-officio. The exception would be the TCC representative on the GTC.
  • All “buspreneurs” are eligible to nominate themselves and if it comes to it, vote for nominees for one of the spots on their own TCC . A “buspreneur” is someone who has participated in our annual competition and launched a company on a bus. People that have not been “buspreneurs” may be approved by approval from me on an exception basis – an example would be some sponsor-representatives that have ridden a bus that have proven to be valuable members of the community.

Global Community Council


  • Advise global directors and the Chief on ad hoc global needs and issues
    • In 2014, receive and debate the merits and failures of three TCC plans. Using the plans provided as a guide craft a global community governance model to be submitted to the founder
    • In 2014, complete the inaugural charter task of submitting a consolidated global plan for the future governance of the entire global  StartupBus Community to the founder
  • Provide a review of global directors performance

GCC Details:

  • The GCC will have one representative from each of the TCCs and a matching amount of open positions filled by direct nomination/election from the global community. For 2014, this means a total of six.
  • No one person can hold a position across multiple community councils.  A director cannot be on a community council, but will be a part of it as an ex-officio. The exception would be the TCC representative on the GCC.
  • All “buspreneurs” are eligible to nominate themselves and if it comes to it, vote for nominees for the three at-large GCC positions . A “buspreneur” is someone who has participated in our annual competition and launched a company on a bus. People that have not been “buspreneurs” may be approved by approval from me on an exception basis — an example would be some sponsor-representatives that have ridden a bus that have proven to be valuable members of the community.

Action Required – Nomination Procedure:

  • Anyone from the community can self-nominate for the three at-large Global Community Council positions and/or the five spots on your region’s TCC using the link below. You may put your name in for both roles.
  • Nominations open Wednesday April 16, 2014 and will close midnight Wednesday April 23, 2014 Pacific Standard Time. Should more people nominate themselves than open positions, an election will be held immediately following.

To nominate yourself, fill out this form:



StartupBus Founder and Chief

Rocket Ship Startup – Space Apps Grows out of StartupBus Community

2 StartupBus NYC Space Apps Challenge NASA

Photo Credit: NASA

Mike Caprio Space Apps StartupBus NYCThis weekend will see the kickoff of the 3rd annual NASA’s Space  Apps Challenge, a global hackathon pioneered by NASA and fostered from its humble beginnings by the StartupBus community across the world – especially by StartupBus NYC, which this year is hosting NASA’s global mainstage for the entire event at Space Apps New York City in partnership with the NY Tech Council.

On the History of Space Apps and StartupBus

The Space Apps Challenge was literally a napkin idea between folks working at NASA in open government and technology and innovation that actually became reality. They realized that people around the world were willing to collaborate and locally organize events to solve problems for NASA, and piloted the program in 2012 on a next-to-nothing shoestring budget.

The Space Apps Challenge was literally a napkin idea

StartupBus became involved with Space Apps right from the beginning. It started just after the StartupBus North America 2012 event; our New York Buspreneurs had come back from Texas and a good number of them wanted to keep hacking together on projects, so they asked me to find another hackathon that we could all participate in. I asked if anyone in the entire StartupBus organization could connect me to NASA or the Space Apps organizers – and it turned out that Buspreneur Sara-Jayne Terp (née Farmer) could, so she connected me to Aaron Huslage and he helped me get on a phone call that was happening between the NY Tech Council and NASA to rapidly organize the first Space Apps NYC site. This is where I also met our co-organizer Alice Ng (who later became a member of StartupBus herself).

The event was so successful that they brought it back for another year and more than tripled the size of it, again spending barely $70,000 on the entire thing but getting back approximately the value of 33 years of output from a single NASA employee, literally millions of dollars of work.

On similarities and differences between StartupBus and Space Apps

StartupBus is a race and a competition; teams compete with each other on their bus, then the best teams from all the buses compete against each other… and the focus on teams and projects is nearly always commercial to some degree, creating a new product or addressing the needs of some market. Space Apps is about collaboration – thousands of people all over the world will work together, share resources, and deliver real solutions to real problems; it’s not about making the next hot new mobile app, it’s about creating tools for protecting people from landslides and educating people about why we need to explore space.
But Space Apps and StartupBus have a lot in common as well – even though Space Apps is focused on solving the world’s problems and StartupBus is very focused on startups and business, both events can lead to creating new companies and industries, and both of these organizations are ultimately about creating communities. And they both have a mission of changing the world, disrupting the status quo, and improving life for everyone.

On Why StartupBus Alumni Are Attracted to Space Apps

Buspreneurs are a unique bunch. They are doers and dreamers, and they want to make the world a better place. Startup culture can often be a bit oppressive, navel-gazing, and elitist – it’s good to get away from that sphere of influence as often as possible. And people in that realm may talk big about changing the world, but what are they *really* doing about it? Most of the time they’re really just talking about making money with a new kind of photo sharing service. Space Apps is an actual opportunity to truly change the world, and Buspreneurs want to make positive change happen for real.

On the Success of Space Apps

A number of things make Space Apps successful – NASA, of course, is the keystone. NASA is providing all of its output for free to the public; data, imagery, software, all of it. They’re giving away all of these resources and they’re saying: “Make something with this. Help us solve the world’s problems.” The NASA brand is solid gold – everyone loves NASA, and for good reason. When was the last time you threw an SUV to Mars and landed it gently on its surface with a rocket crane?? Who doesn’t love the idea of working with NASA, meeting astronauts, building robots and rocketing them into space to explore the universe? Well, go ahead and do it. Everyone can get involved and actually do these things through the Space Apps Challenge.

everyone loves NASA, and for good reason. When was the last time you threw an SUV to Mars and landed it gently on its surface with a rocket crane??

That’s the real driving force, that passion and romance for space. Look at what all the billionaires of the world are pursuing – nearly all of them are doing some kind of work to get into space. Elon Musk, Peter Diamandis, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson… the list of people pursuing commercial activity in space goes on and on. So there’s another reason, there’s great economic opportunity involved as well – NASA’s technological advancements have almost always led to great leaps forward in the tech sector, and this is just another way to incubate innovation, just in a grassroots fashion.

How to Get Involved with Space Apps

Anyone can get involved at any time – sign up at http://spaceappschallenge.org to participate at a local site or virtually online this weekend. And the site itself is more and more becoming a resource center – previous challenges and their solutions can be seen on the archived 2012 and 2013 sites. Everything produced at the Space Apps Challenge is made completely open source and free to the world, so there are now numerous Github repositories containing the work of thousands of people – and NASA has open sourced massive amounts of its own code through various programs too.Anyone can apply from anywhere in the world to locally organize their own Space Apps site next year. Projects have continued past the hackathons, companies have been formed to continue tackling NASA’s challenges. There are a ton of opportunities to get involved, you just have to step up and take part! Follow @SpaceApps on Twitter, like their page on Facebook, and register today at the http://spaceappschallenge.org website to get news and announcements fro NASA in the future.

Finalist Beander Sits Down for Coffee

Beander StartupBus finalists

Finalists for North America 2014, Beander spoke with the 1Million Cups Blog about how they started and where they are now. Beander is the online marketplace for green, specialty coffee.

Despite the end of the North American competition a month ago, Beander is alive and well, Tatiana Becker the CEO of Beander reports:

All 6 of us are continuing with Beander, and are bringing on more importers and developing the site in preparation for the Specialty Coffee Association of America conference next month. We will be debuting Beander to scores of roasters at that event.

Read more about Beander on the 1Million Cups Blog