News from the StartupBus community

On the future of StartupBus

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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)

Responsibilities:

  • 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

Responsibilities:

  • 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:

https://startupbus.wufoo.com/forms/zxdamoo14pfkxv/

[avatar user=”elias” size=”thumbnail” link=”http://eliasbizannes.com”]StartupBus Founder and Chief[/avatar]

7 Comments

  1. We are extremely excited to hear your feedback. This community is highly driven and extremely unique. There isn’t a traditional structure that really works for us – we feel that this process will allow us to determine what is best for all of us going forward.
    Make sure to submit your name for consideration to sit on the councils. This is your chance to have a hand in steering a growing global brand… even if you don’t sit on a council, you can still be involved locally and advise your tribal council on what you would like to see in the future!

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    • @Benjamin
      The inaugural community council had a chicken and egg issue not to mention was an experiment so things aren’t exactly as announced, which I expected. But I’ve been blown away at what they’ve done to date. The North America and Global councils had done a lot of work (Europe, for a few reasons, is now inactive but that’s been compensated in other ways).

      In better news, the future announcements we have will be on the status of these councils and issues they’ve been tasked to solved. More will be announced to the community by Q2 and publicly by Q3.

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