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Announcing StartupBus Americas 2013

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StartupBus is coming back for another amazing event in March 2013!  

We are currently heads down planning the last details of this years event.  This year we are expanding upon the format and bringing on some premier sponsors that will help make the event better than ever.  

The competition
This year will have the America’s top entrepreneurial regions facing off against one another to find out which region is “the next Silicon Valley.”  Each region will be represented by their capital entrepreneurial city:

  •     West Coast represented by Silicon Valley!
  •     East Coast represented by New York City!
  •     South East represented by Tampa Bay!
  •     Midwest represented by Chicago!
  •     Mexico represented by Mexico City!

Each of these cities represents an amazing hot bed of tech talent, business, and innovation.  In StartupBus tradition, these cities will be facing off against one another to battle it out to determine which region will reign supreme!

Other cities can still join
If your city isn’t on the list, it doesn’t mean a bus can’t depart from there.  Please let us know on Twitter and we will take a look!

Next Steps
Register:  Connect your Facebook account to the StartupBus.com to let us know you’re interested and get updates on the competition.

Get invited.  StartupBus is invitation only and prides itself on the tradition of only accepting the best.  After you have registered, and If you’ve got potential, one of the regions conductors might send you an invitation.  A better bet is to look on Twitter and Facebook for select people offering invitations and have them vouch for you by inviting you.

Apply. Once invited, StartupBus.com will show you options on how to apply. Go ahead and be creative — we usually have several thousand apply each year, and this year we are expecting even more.  So ake yourself stand out!

Confirm your attendance. If accepted, congratulations!  Details about this step will be sent out to those accepted sometime in early February.

Doers: Let’s roll up our sleeves and embrace risk!

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24 buspreneurs x 5 buses with Danes, Dutch, Swiss, Germans, French, Brits, Americans, Greeks, Spaniards, Canadians, Czech, Indians, and Swedes hitting the European roads for 4 days. The ingredients to a StartupBus / FounderBus ride were simple: highly creative and slightly crazy entrepreneurs ready to board a bus with like-minded people to found a startup. The recipe is rather simple: gather the buspreneurs, confine them on a bus, push them to their limits, and add as much fun as you want. There you have it: a successful ride to Paris with a team pitching their idea on stage at LeWeb!

Each bus had several teams who worked day and nigh on their product, mostly mobile, to have and deliver a great pitch at the semi-finals on Sunday and the finals in Paris on Monday. Teams went through the ups and downs of fighting for an idea, developing a business model, working their magic on mock ups, and most importantly managing to use each teammate’s skills to develop and eventually pitch a product that would convince the jury. Some teams split, other teams showed great spirit. All buspreneurs worked until the last minute to prepare for their pitch. What came out of all the pitches was the energy deployed by the teams throughout these 4 days. The adventure ended on Monday night somewhere near Hotel-de-Ville, with 120 entrepreneurs savouring the moment. One team went to bed early, the ones who pitched at LeWeb yesterday.

Recollecting my thoughts on my way back from Paris on the TGV I started thinking about the thing as a whole. What struck me on the past few days was the shared interest of the buspreneurs. The EU was recently awarded the Nobel prize for facing adversity together and not giving up all the work accomplished. The EU is one thing, the European entrepreneurs are another. There is a hype about the startup scene in Europe, no question about that. Beyond the buzz and the sexyness of working at a startup in a renovated warehouse somewhere in Lisbon, London, Zurich or Berlin, there is something rising from all this. Young Europeans – I mean people living in Europe as a continent –  have started to consider entrepreneurship as a real possibility compared to a job in the corporate world or in government. With the economic downturn, a whole generation has nothing to lose. Entrepreneurship is alive and kicking.

Private initiatives like The StartupBus and the Failcon conferences help in two ways. First, they show a new path for younger generations, making entrepreneurship a career decision as legitimate as taking a job in a company. Being an entrepreneur can be founding a startup that is going to grow from 5 to 200 in two years and to successfully raise capital. It’s also about starting one own’s project, like a small agency. It’s all about taking a leap of faith and taking risks. In that way, such initiatives help take the heat out of risk, making it seem more acceptable.

I applied to the StartupBus competition because I wanted to get first-hand experience of what it takes to start a business and have an insight of the intrinsic processes implied, with their share of joys and difficulties. Coming from a public policy background, I wanted to put myself in the entrepreneurs shoes and grasp their reality. The StartupBus’s point is to show a path and to connect entrepreneurs, forming a community of like-minded people. It also shows entrepreneurship as it is. Not all succeed, but going through such an experience opens new possibilities. Anyone can be crazy enough to start their own business. If such a community wants to grow, it will take commitment of alumni buspreneurs. Personally, I want to nurture the connections I made and push for more women on the bus, not to reach quotas but for empowerment and enhanced diversity.

Text by Elise Nardin, co-founder of Life Lessons

Check-in: Elise on Founderbus Germany

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So how’s life on the road? We checked in on the German Founderbus and got in touch with Elise Nardin, one of the 3 girls and 24 participants in total on board. She’s in the inspiring company of Buspreneurs from Germany, Canada, India, Czech Republic, Switzerland and France. Elise herself is from Zürich, Switzerland.

“Yesterday, our kick-off event started with each participant pitching her-/himself and their idea. This was followed by some kind of value sharing and team building. After all participants met and introduced themselves and their idea, we met the rest of the audience at the YOU IS NOW building right off Ostbahnhof station in Berlin.

Here, the CTO of Prezi gave a presentation about the lean startup, explaining how you start building a start up, reading business model books (or not), and making sure to integrate the human factor in your startup idea. You have to make sure to hire people who can work at a startup.”

After the presentation, they had beers and pizza and sat to watch a 10min footage of last year GründerBus movie. We they all headed to the Pegasus Hostel where we formed teams. “There is one team who has one of their team members – actually the originator of the idea of their startup – who misunderstood from where the StartupBus was leaving and is in Cologne and his team will meet him on Saturday!” Elise tells us.

These are the projects that were conceived on the German Founderbus:

  • Marshmallow – ‘Making your children enjoy doing their chores’
  • Up for a Cup / Cup it up: Employee Engagement Tool. (<- the startup Elise is working on)
  • Haystack – ‘You don’t find a date, your date finds you’
  • Who Else? – Discover people who share the same interests
  • Blind restaurant booking service – Book a table in different price categories and be surprised about what you get.

Today, Friday nov. 30th:

“We spent the morning at the Deutsche Telekom hub:raum accelerator program where each team worked on their business model coached by hub:raum coaches. Pitches were hold with direct feedback from the coaches and other teams.  Afterwards we headed off to Berlin Mitte to listen to 3 ‘founder stories’:

The CEO of MyParfum who presented us his product and told us about starting his business with his roommate and brother. He talked about bootstrapping a business and going through the ups and downs and giving advice to people who would want to start their business with little, or no money upfront.

Then Felix of Tirendo (a tire company) told us about his experience of starting a business being helped by an incubator, i.e. Project A, based in Berlin. He gave a presentation about how to start your business within an incubator, with the pros and the cons.

Finally Mark Hartmann of Project A gave a short presentation about ‘Data Love’ arguing that monitoring data and analyzing data was super important and to be done since the start. Mark’s presentation touched on online marketing, the actual organization of Project A, their portfolio and outlined their strategy.

We just had a tasty dinner at Toca Rouge, Chinese restaurant in Berlin Mitte, and now we’re back on the bus.”

And right now, we are waiting for the pitches of the German Founderbus and the VikingBus to begin, as they face eachother in Hamburg, pitching their projects for the second time… Watch them go!

Meet the alumni: an interview with former-Buspreneur Esther from Amsterdam

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Esther Gons was one of the European Buspreneur pioneers. She works independently on business development, lean strategies, startups, internal change, everything strategy -combined with visual thinking for big and small companies. I talked to Esther about her own internal change evoked by riding the bus.

“Riding the StartupBus is incredible. It motivated me to dive deeper into the startup world. I realized how important startups are and how fascinating it is to work on one, how much you learn from it. That’s why I joined several startup initiatives in the Netherlands and Amsterdam in particular as a mentor, because I love helping these creative entrepreneurs find the right way. Now that I think of it, even all my spare time goes into mentoring startups and working on the development of a good, startup friendly atmosphere in and around Amsterdam. That passion I have for startups I really discovered from riding the StartupBus.”

Esther

(pic by Thom @Stream my Event)

How did the experience have an impact on your other business activities, say in the not so-startup world? “I believe that the StartupBus teaches you a lot about focus. You get this idea, you learn to work with your team members – who you’ve really just met, deal with less ideal situations in terms of comfort, internet connections and sometimes frustrations. You can only succeed if you keep your focus. And we did, ‘cause we’ve won!”

“It’s so unique because it puts you in a pressure cooker. All the creativity, emotions, etc. come out quicker. There is no quicker way to get to know your co-founders than riding the StartupBus.”

What’s the situation like in the Netherlands? Is there a lot of support for startups and startup initiatives? “It’s getting better, there are now 3 accelerators in Amsterdam. That’s good, but they should be working together more. There is a growing base of motivated people who believe in supporting startups and bringing parties together. I mean, accelerators are great, but operate very much from a business point of view. You also need an environment of people wanting others to succeed, helping out, not necessarily wanting something in return right away. Luckily I have the feeling that this startup friendly attitude is becoming better represented.

Every city seems to have a ‘speciality’ in startups. I.e. Berlin has a lot of community and game oriented startups, while London has a good deal of financial startups. I think apps are Amsterdam’s game.”

Any advice for those boarding the bus in a couple of days? “Go in with an open mind, let everything happen as it comes.”

Throw a group of strangers on a bus…

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… and watch them come up with a business idea in just a few days…

Preparing this 2012 edition, UK team is in the process of finalizing the pool of 25 successful applicants who will take their place on the coach that will head to Paris via workshops in Oxford and Cambridge Universities, London’s Business School and Google Campus.

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Workshops include Entrepreneur FirstSeedrsFlat-Club as well as several well-known individual expert speakers, providing advice on everything from creating the idea, branding and selling it to investors.

Read full report on the Huffington Post

10 reasons to apply for the StartupBus

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Imagine stepping out of your comfort zone, into a bus (that is actually quite comfortable in fact) filled with smart, scrappy, interesting, entrepreneurial people who are willing to set everything aside for a few days to build something beautiful with you. This is your chance to be part of a team that is about to make a difference and even change the world, all in the timespan of a trip through Europe on a bus. 

You’ve heard about it, you’ve read up about it, you’re thinking about applying… but you’re still unsure whether you should really fill in the application form and hit ‘send’?

 

Here are 10 undeniable reasons to make up your mind and just go for it.
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1. Learn so much in so little time
Depending on the location of departure, you’ll be on the road for about 50 to 60 hours. In this time you’ll learn how to build a minimal viable product and focus on what’s really important when starting a business. There will be mentors on board sharing their ideas and experiences which will help you in the process.

2. Meet awesome people
Entrepreneurial individuals from all over the continent (and possibly beyond) that bring their passion for sharing and learning on board. Maybe you’ll meet the perfect co-founder on the bus. 20 to 30 new (Facebook) friends are included in the package.

3. Boost your creativity
With the influence of your fellow Buspreneurs and mentors, the creative bubble you’ll be traveling in, the inspiration of the view outside the bus, talks you have with people you meet and maybe also the lack of sleep, your brain will come up with new ideas and methods.

4. Test your entrepreneurial skills
So you think you can start and run a business? Read all the books there are to read about the subject? Subscribed to The Next Web, TechCrunch and Wired to keep up with the movers and shakers in the startup world? You might be ready for it. Or not. There’s no better opportunity to find out than being on the StartupBus.

5. Show off your dev/designer/marketing skills
We’re sure your skills are ace, so let’s get you to try them out in a new environment. Bring it!

6. See Europe
Well, that’s not entirely true. You’ll be amazed how little time there is to gaze out the windows. Then again you’ll be welcomed by organizations and entrepreneurs in different countries along the road. Last year we had pizza at Nokia in Denmark, pasta in Berlin, breakfast at Google in Zürich and leftovers (from a party we showed up late to) in Paris. Europe-trotting, much?

7. Meet awesome entrepreneurs along the way
At the places you stop for meals or pitching, there will probably be a few entrepreneurs who are really curious to meet you and hear about your projects. A great time for feedback on what you’re building, but also to pick their brains about their experiences, vision, ideas, etc.

8. Polish up those pitching skills
A golden rule for entrepreneurs is to always be ready to pitch. No matter who asks you, have a smashing story at hand that make investors grab for their checkbook. But pitching is a skill on its own. While on the bus, you get to work on that skill and you get enough chances to practice on a real audience.

9. Expand your network with invaluable contacts
It doesn’t hurt to have some business cards ready to give out to your co-Buspreneurs, the mentors, the conductor, the entrepreneurs, journalists and investors you meet along the road… Also, after riding the bus, you’ll be added to the ever expanding worldwide network of alumni Buspreneurs: an incredible network of entrepreneurial and open minds.

10. When was the last time you did something that frightened you?
Doing something that frightens you everyday is a beautiful rule to live by, but it’s not always easy to accomplish, as it might not be easy to find something that frightens you. So here you go, here’s your frightener. Just apply and have a nice day.

Picture by Esther Gons

Announcing the buspreneur competition for Europe 2012

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Europe’s balance sheet may be debt laden, but that’s not going to stop us from announcing our European competition this year, scheduled to be between November 30 and December 5th.

We will be running six buses, much like the second year of the American competition in 2011. We are doing with a joint venture between our friends at FounderBus (running buses from Germany, France, and UK universties) as well as three under the StartupBus organisation (from London, Spain, and one wildcard to be discussed below).

We are also excited to announce our partnership with LeWeb, the most important tech fixture in Europe. Not only will we have a bus parked at LeWeb and discounted tickets for accepted buspreneurs (at an amazing 75% discount due to the geneorisity of Loic and Geraldine in supporting startups) but the winning team from the competition will go onto the LeWeb Startup Competition as a finalist. For context, last year the LeWeb competition had over 600 applicants, 32 semi-finalists, and 16 finalists with an expected 1000 applicants this year. The winner of our competition in early December will get fastracked to be on the stage of Europe’s most influentual tech conference as one of the 16 +1 (we’re the +1) LeWeb startup competition finalists.

Now what? Apply and vote for the wild card!

Applications are now open, so go ahead and blow us away! Note that our application process is an invite only affair, so if you don’t know anyone that can invite you, make some social media noise to get the attention of the buspreneur community.

Based off the success we had with this with America this year, for this sixth bus it will be a wild card, where we are going to create a competition based on which region can generate the most social media voting (through tweets or Facebook likes). To vote for your region, go to this page.