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Marianne Bellotti, Exversion Alumni Company Data Hacking for The UN

I came onto the StartupBus in 2013 not really taking the startup aspect of it very seriously. For me it was just an interesting and unusual roadtrip and nothing more, but suddenly Jacek [Grebski] was standing up in front talking about all these data problems he dealt with everyday and wouldn’t it be cool to actually fix them?

It’s really funny in retrospect, at the time I tended to lump marketers together with recruiters in my mental classification system of lame people who go to technical events for the wrong reasons.

Jacek and I had run into each other a few times before the bus– we were both working in developer evangelism at the time, which is a very small close knit community– but because his background was marketing I always kind of assumed we had no mutual interests. It’s really funny in retrospect, at the time I tended to lump marketers together with recruiters in my mental classification system of lame people who go to technical events for the wrong reasons. So when he tried to talk to me before the bus I was always very skeptical about his agenda. It literally never occurred to me that he might be talking to me because we were interested in the same things. I wouldn’t say I was rude to him, but there was definitely some nodding while not really listening to what he was saying.
But on the bus his pitch hit upon ideas that I had been playing around with for months. It caught me completely off guard and I started to get really excited. I had always wanted to do something like Exversion, but I had always assumed it would be years before I could. Suddenly I was thinking “Why can’t we do this now? Why can’t I just build it?”
So that was that. The company is now two years old. We do a lot of consulting work building those data infrastructure solutions for huge organizations like the United Nations and the City of New York. Then we take that work and either integrate it into Exversion’s web platform for everyone to use, or open source it.

Being on the StartupBus

On StartupBus, I learned to recognize how badly I need to reign in my judgmental side, which is a huge plus in every aspect of my life. And the StartupBus community is a massive cache of contacts and recommendations. But I think the biggest advantage during the StartupBus is your close proximity to other teams. It’s not like normal hackathons where some teams come in fully formed with a project they’ve been working on for months, everyone starts from scratch. So while you’re trying to figure stuff out, you’re surrounded by other people trying to figure stuff out and you do end up learning from each other quite a bit. I’m a super competitive person and it was really interesting to be in an environment where the competition is intense, but the feeling of camaraderie is much more intense. That was the first time I was introduced to the idea that competing doesn’t automatically mean you are competing AGAINST someone else, which turned out to be a super important lesson.
Marianne Bellotti

Marianne co-founded Exversion on the 2013 North America StartupBus

Infrastructure is not something people enjoy thinking about generally. So in my industry the biggest barrier to a sale is not a competitor having a better product, it’s the buyer thinking to themselves “Ehh… well our current setup is good enough isn’t it?” Nine times out of ten their current setup is an elaborate network of Excel spreadsheets, dumped from a database ten years out of date, distributed over multiple Dropbox accounts and they don’t understand why their new data scientist hire is crying in the corner all the time. But still it’s really hard to get the person actually making the buying decision excited about investing in their infrastructure. If I come in and bash Exversion’s competition, it doesn’t make Exversion look like the best solution it just makes the client more skeptical of any infrastructure improvements. In our space there ends up being a huge difference between the companies that understand that by working together we all make more money, and the companies that think competing in business means competing against everyone else. Right now we’re watching one company from the latter having its empire ripped apart by a network of companies in the former.

So the structure of the StartupBus competition was a really good introduction to the type of competitive attitude that will ultimately make you successful.

What Happens After the Bus?

I went on the StartupBus because going on the StartupBus had been a turning point for every developer I knew that had an awesome career. At the time I was not happy at my job. I liked what I was doing but as a developer evangelist I was on a pretty short leash. I wasn’t working for a big startup with a nice budget for evangelism, so in a sense I felt like I was missing out on a lot of fun with conferences and hackathons. I wanted to change the game.
Afterwards I realized why StartupBus has the effect on people’s careers that it does. Normally building out your network takes months, possibly years of small meetings and run-ins. You can’t just get introduced to someone and immediately ask for a favor and expect that to go well. It takes time to develop the trust and familiarity that makes a connection really valuable.
On the bus though, all of that is accelerated. You go through some crazy stuff. It’s really like the Tough Mudder of hackathons in that sense. Shit happens and you band together. You don’t come home with thirty new network connections, you come home with thirty new best friends.

Did you think you’d be doing what you’re doing now before you started the bus?

Not at all. I expected to hack on something stupid for three days and abandon the project as soon as we got back. Two years later I’m still here.

I expected to hack on something stupid for three days and abandon the project as soon as we got back. Two years later I’m still here.

Many of the opportunities we’ve had came from reaching out to the StartupBus network: we’re invited out to SF by Y Combinator, Tech Crunch sent us to Berlin… Today I’m getting Request for Proposals for deals that are in the $1 million to $5 million range and it’s the StartupBus community that is helping me figure out how to grow to support that level of work.

StartupBus isn’t an event, it’s an investment. Two years, three years down the road you will still be reaping advantages. No matter what you decide to do with your startup once the competition is over.


Bridgefy, Alumni Company with World-Changing Potential


Jorge Rios from Bridgefy will be joining alumni and buspreneurs for Accelerate: Nashville on June 8th.

Bridgefy was born on StartupBus North America 2014, where the team went on to place 2nd overall. The founders, Jorge, Diego, and Roberto, went on to raise enough pre-seed capital to quit their jobs, move to San Francisco, and work full-time on Bridgefy. In early May 2015, they released the Bridgefy app for both Android and iPhone, the fruits of their 12-month work after having raised seed capital in November 2014 and built a team of 7. Bridgefy is based in San Francisco, with development going on in Mexico City.

We established the core founding team, we got validation for our idea, and we met people who have helped us a lot throughout the company’s lifetime.

I got on the Bus looking for a new project and team,  but I never thought I’d be working on something with so much world-changing potential. Don’t be afraid to be great. Just jump.

Before the bus, I thought it was this legendary contest where only hand-picked people participated and competed. After, I thought the exact same thing except that it’s not so far-fetched to think a Mexican team could win it someday soon.

I got on the Bus looking for a new project and team,  but I never thought I’d be working on something with so much world-changing potential.

Don’t be afraid to be great. Just jump.


Wastebits, An Alumni Success Story


On June 8th, Wastebits, founded on the 2012 StartupBus, will join alumni and current buspreneurs in Nashville for Accelerate: Nashville

First and foremost, Wastebits is about its people and culture. We were fortunate to start as a dream team with an almost unheard of mix of talent and experience that is perfectly overlapping. Frankly I attribute that to Scott’s talent assembling product teams. And while we’ve certainly had our share of tribulations, the emphasis and investments we’ve made focusing on our culture have proven to be our persevering strength. The funny thing about culture, though, is that its never ‘done’. The base might be pretty well established but its constantly evolving that, just like a romance, culture requires an on-going investment of time and resources to cultivate and ensure that the culture remains a critical foundational block that we can each depend on as we grow.

Our team on the software side grew this year to over 20 incredibly talented and passionate folks and we’ll finish out the year with well over $1million in customer driven revenue.

Dan Collins, our CEO, really was the impetus with his visionary ideas to revolutionize the waste industry based on his intimate knowledge and relationships within the industry. The tech side of the team had been looking for an idea to rally around, something we could all apply our passions toward together; and making the world a better place by (re)defining the future of the waste industry sounded like a fun challenge. And Dan’s personal values aligned very very well with our own, so it was pretty much a perfect match.

Scott Meier co-founded Wastebits on the StartupBus in 2012

Scott Meier co-founded Wastebits on the StartupBus in 2012

Our team on the software side grew this year to over 20 incredibly talented and passionate folks and we’ll finish out the year with well over $1million in customer driven revenue. We also anticipate needing to double headcount again by 1st quarter 2016. While we’ve achieved a lot of successes together (and circumvented quite a few the ‘normal startup rules’ in doing so), we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us and need to continue to grow to the team to help tackle the challenges.

Our size and growth are topics of on-going discussion for us. Immediately after our final pitch at StartupBus 2012, we collectively made the decision to be very intentional about our growth, ensuring to always get the right people on the bus first and to be very discerning on who are the ‘right’ people to be part of our team…of course employees and contractors, but also customers, investors and suppliers.

Immediately after our final pitch at StartupBus 2012, we collectively made the decision to be very intentional about our growth

Three big lessons from the StartupBus

  1. Getting the right people on the bus.
  2. Developing a trusted network.
  3. Focusing on what we need to do to drive value, and avoiding getting caught up in what everyone else says we should be doing.

From the Alum on our team, we had the impression StartupBus would pretty much be 4 intense, sleepless days figuring out how to build in 4 days what would normally take 6+ months.

And afterwards that seemed to be a pretty accurate depiction. Which was exactly why most of us resisted Scott’s prodding to get on the bus in the first place. Each of us was already pretty invested in our own endeavors. But then one by one, we had each found ourselves saying, ‘Well…if they’re in, I’m in’. And three years later here we are together still smiling (and still short on sleep!).

Ray often explains StartupBus as an immersive environment for cultivating entrepreneurial talent; likening it to a lightning MBA supported by a Community convinced they can accomplish just about anything together. Once you’re a part of the Community, its empowering and addictive!

“I’d rather see StartupBus on a resume than an MBA.” – Dave McClure, 500 Startups

After the Bus

We are each extremely driven individuals and had each been doing our own thing and supporting each other well before StartupBus. Coming together during StartupBus emphasized what was possible if we focused on the same vision together.

Funny enough though, early on on the bus each of us had considered joining other teams…but it came down to the fact that teaming together was just too compelling! And we’re all pretty happy with that decision now.

the StartupBus Community is chocked full of amazing individuals that really do care enough to work together to make the world a better place.

Advice to would be Buspreneurs:

Don’t get on a bus if you are happy to do what you are currently doing for the next 30 years of your life.

Getting on a bus will change your perception.

Red pill or blue pill…

Start a company not a startup.

Everything is connected, and everything matters.

People > Technology.

Its very apropos that our team came together and Wastebits was birthed at StartupBus.


Capture the Culture of StartupBus

You’re about to join a society of hackers, hipsters, and hustlers that have all gone through the same experience you just signed up for. We’re united by a desire to build and disrupt the status quo, and we don’t often talk about our culture because we all understand what it takes to be a part of this community: passion and a little bit of insanity.
After this journey, you’ll be able to turn up in hundreds of cities around the globe and immediately plug into like minded people because of the StartupBus network. You’ll have what Dave McClure of 500 startups refers to as better than an MBA – the title of former Busrepreneur. And we want to make sure there is plenty of photographic and video evidence to prove it. To do that, we’ve plugged into one of our network to build us a custom version of the WeVue app, branded just for StartupBus, and accessible only by current and former members of our community.
WeVue is designed to help companies and organizations capture, enhance, and promote their culture through crowdsourcing photos and videos from their communities. In turn, we’ll be piping the best of that content directly to our website, sharing it across social media, and using it to entice future Busrepreneurs in the years to come.
Download for iOS
Download for Android 
You can sign up for the app by using the same email you used to pay for StartupBus, and once you confirm your email and log in, you’ll be in a private culture network created just for us. Every region will have an album just for them to post content to. We ask that you add the best photos and videos you’re capturing during your journey. Upload your pitch practice to get feedback from past riders and other buses, show of your awesome swag, and make sure to get some good shots of people passed out on rest stop benches at 2AM.
Want to win a $200 Amazon gift card? We thought you might be able to use it to buy all the cool products you didn’t realize you needed until after you got on the bus. We’ve got a super secret contest going that factors in who best embodies the culture of StartupBus and shows it on the app. You’ll get points for adding content, liking and commenting on posts from other regions, and showing the best progress on your pitch and the winner will be announced on stage in Nashville.
You’re on this bus because you’re pretty tech savvy, but if you need a full walkthrough of how the app works, you can find one here.
Good luck, god speed, tweet your sponsors, and don’t poop on the bus.

Announcing StartupBus North America 2015


2015 is an important year for us – not just because it’s a milestone: it’s been five years on the dot since we announced ourselves to the world. Since then, we’ve added ~1200 people our community across four continents in StartupBus competitions.  It’s been a long, strange trip – and we’re ready to go bigger than we have before in the year ahead.  There will be several major announcements made in 2015 to mark this coming of age that started with the announcement of the community councils.  Today, we’re making a key announcement that shapes the rest of the year:

StartupBus North America 2015

StartupBus NashvilleAfter considering many locations, we discovered an opportunity in Music City USA. We’re excited to head to Nashville, TN June 4-8 for the 36/86 Conference in conjunction with LaunchTN.

Elias, myself and the North American Directors recommended to the North America community council that it was time to move the North American competition away from Austin and the SxSW conference – for many of reasons – chief among them was the timing and the disconnect between the value and the cost for everyone involved.

After considering many locations, we discovered an opportunity in Music City USA.  We’re excited to head to Nashville, TN June 4-8 for the 36/86 Conference in conjunction with LaunchTN. Nashville has welcomed StartupBus with open arms and cultivated a strong alumni network over the years. With recent news like Google Fiber coming to Nashville, you know there’s something brewing there. Nashville will play host in 2015 with the Grand Finals as part of the opening event of 36/86 – as well as new activities to be announced soon…

The most meaningful relationships that come out of StartupBus form by sharing a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the crazy people who are part of this truly unique community. This year in Nashville, we look forward to  providing a new way for the alumni community and the general public to meet the newest members and be part of the activities that facilitate those relationships.

Applications will be opening soon – if you are not alumni, we don’t make it easy to get an invite – not impossible, just not easy.  The easiest way to get considered is to pre-apply now.  Once applications open, this option will be gone…  We will be announcing the opening of applications shortly as well.

2015 is going to be an incredible year – are you ready?

Announcing the winner of StartupBus Europe 2014


The winner of the StartupBus Europe 2014 competition is Zumo!

Zumo pitching on stage at Pioneers Festival

Zumo was founded on the Greek bus and provides on-demand interactions using modern technologies like WebRTC. The typical use-case would be online retail shops like Zalando or Travelplanet24 having an “ask” or “help” button. Clicking the button would instantly open a video-chat or a chatroom with someone from the shop without the customer having to switch context and thus improving the customer experience.

Congratulations Zumo!

People of the Sun


We are “People of the Sun”, a solar startup founded by Allen Haroutonian, Jamie Madden and Simeon King. We have developed a whole new asset class powered by the sun & supported by technological advances that will deliver top tier returns to our investors…. the people.

Putting solar on your own roof doesn’t make sense for everyone, renters, people who live in apartments or homes not positioned for solar on their own roof, renting businesses or business without rooftops.

We have created an opportunity for anyone to invest in solar and help facilitate the mass rollout of renewables in Australia.

You might be asking why invest in solar, in a market where everything is going the other way. We have developed a method of harnessing the apathy, uncertainty, dodgy legislation and price fixing to make money for people who “Believe in the Australian sun”.

Our model works independently of government legislation on the Renewable Energy Target and is able to avert the influence falling feedback rates. And It’s is accessible to a wide rage of investors both locally and overseas.

Why? because we believe in the Australian sun too!

People of the Sun Launching @SydStart 2nd Sep 2014 – StartupBus Pacific


Diner Companion changes your travel experience and provides an easy, convenient way for you to meet with other solo travellers.

Our vision is to eradicate loneliness from the world.

The Diner Companion app is an ‘Ice Breaker’ to connect you with Diner Companions matched to you via your location and user profile. Diner Companion creates and enables a social dining experience.

Once you have found a Diner Companion the app recommends venues for you to meet, connect, and unwind.

Diner Companion launches next week at SydStart. Get ready to download the app, connect and dine.

The Diner Companion founder team on the StartupBus are: Ken Taylor, Adam Whitehand, Karl Nelson and David Cristofaro.


FailPage – StartupBus Pacific


Our visionfailpage-square - copie

Error pages suck, and no one cares. We’re here to change that. FailPages is turning the boring ERROR 404 into the highest converting page of your website.

Our Mission

Failpage turns error pages into meaningful customer experiences. It allows businesses to  analyse metrics in order to improve conversion rates and customize error pages in order to increase brand awareness.

Our Team

Thomas is the David Livingstone of the 21st century. Originally a full stack developer from Melbourne, he’s spent the last 4 years building and managing large trafficed websites across Africa Steph is a funky Parisian on exchange in Melbourne. When she’s not creating start-ups on a bus, she rambles down the streets taking pictures of quirky strangers for her photoblog “Gueules de Parisiens” (Parisian Faces). Dean is Digital marketing guru and always puts the team first. If he is not thinking of the next great marketing campaign you will probably find him surfing or out riding his bike.