Feb 052011

If you’re a member of this community, or reading this post, then I have to assume that you, like myself, are interested in helping to put Florida on the national, if not international, technology map.

What is the Startup Bus?

For those of you who have never heard of the StartupBus, imagine The Apprentice meets The Amazing Race meets Incubate Miami, but with a technological twist to build a start-up from scratch ON THE BUS.

Five buses, one from each of the following cities, are headed to SouthBySouthwest in Austin, TX: San Francisco, New York, Cleveland, Chicago, and Miami.

Since we are the South Florida Social Geeks, Steve Repetti, from Radwebtech, and I are helping the bus leaving from Miami search for The South’s best and brightest to join us on this journey to Austin.

But, before you sign up, keep in mind that this trip is not for those of you with the faint of heart.

Don’t think this is going to be your standard road-trip, oh no.  In fact, you could almost say that this is the marathon of start-up competitions.  Not only do you have to have the drive and determination that powers the entrepreneurial spirit, but you’ve got to have the endurance to live on lack of sleep and be willing to live for a few days with complete strangers.

Each bus will have an estimated 25 to 30 people, with skills ranging from Coders, Graphic Designers, Webmasters, Copy Editors, Technical Writers, and Social Media Specialists to people with financial and business backgrounds to those people who are Creative/Artistic, and like to think outside the box.

Just like an Incubate event, those who have great startup ideas will be given time to present their proposal to the bus.  Then, everyone on the bus will be given time to mingle and group up into different teams.  You could end up part of a team, or if you are really passionate about your own idea, you could even spend the entire bus working on it yourself (but where’s the fun in that).   Your team could develop a killer web application, or if you find that none of you are developers, you might just end up with jaw-dropping a power-point business model that will blow everyone away.  It will literally be a free-for-all until we get to SxSW, where all the teams from the various buses will be given the opportunity to present their in front of some of biggest venture capitalist around.

Let that sink in for a second.  You’ll be presenting to the venture capitalists.  That means that there is the potential, even if you’re not the team chosen to win, that some investor out there might say, “Hey, we really like that idea and want to talk more about it with you.”

Now, even though the entire bus might not end up together as a single team, this is still a national competition and the people on this bus would be seen as representing “The South”.  That’s why this South Florida Social Geek wants to make the contingent from Florida as prominent as possible.  We will be wearing our southern state pride loud and proud, laying down the smack and doing some trash-talking.  We want to show the rest of the country at the single largest technological start-up conference in the nation that “The South”,  not San Francisco, not New York, not Cleveland, not Chicago, and not Los Angeles is the place to be.  Let’s show them that we have the talent so they will want to either move here, or set up some offices here.

How do I get on the Startup Bus?

If this is something that has your interest, keep in mind that space on the bus is extremely limited, so there are a few hoops you’ll have to go through to get seat on the bus.

  1. Go to http://startupbus.com and click on “Find Out More: Connect with Facebook
  2. Wait for someone to “vouch” for you.
  3. While you are waiting, leave a comment below telling me why you think I should vouch for you. We are only given 2 invites/people we can vouch for, so you better make it a compelling argument.  And remember, to the right are your friends who want to get on the bus. Vouch for one of them, or vouch for someone via email, but vouch wisely.  These may be the people you’re relying on to launch a company.
  4. NOTE: leaving a comment below IS NOT the same as submitting your reasons to the StartupBus.  What we are asking for is why we should vouch for you and give you one of our limited invites.  Don’t be surprised that there are no comments showing up because they are being screened, kept private.
  5. Once you’ve been vouched for, you’ll be asked to tell the StartupBus group why you think you’re the the most scrappy hacker, do-er, thinker, designer or connector and how that’s going to help you to go toe-to-toe with some of the best minds in startups.  Personally, I would recommend that you mention in your application that you were referred by the South Florida Social Geeks, perhaps mention me and, or Steve by name, since it couldn’t hurt.
  6. Then, the StartupBus team will pick the best of the best to get a seat on the bus.

What if I want to be a sponsor for the Startup Bus?

If riding on a bus for 3 days with complete strangers isn’t your cup of tea, but you like the idea of The Startup Bus and would like to donate, we are also looking for local financial sponsors to help ease the financial burdens of each individual rider:

  • StartupBus participation costs:
    • $100 of the participation fee is a non-refundable ticket that guarantees your seat
    • An additional $100 for a refundable contribution to ensure we can cover all the cost
  • SxSW admission
    • The Interactive Badge alone is $750
  • Hotel
    • March 7th 
      • We’re having a launch party here in South Florida the night before we leave, then getting up bright and early to leave.
    • March 8-10 for the ride to Austin, TX
    • March 11-16 while in Austin, TX
  • Flights home
    • The bus is only one way.  Each rider still has to be able to get home
  • Misc costs that we’d like to be able to cover as well:
    • Air flight to Miami, if needed (although we’d prefer you drive if you’re in the state).
    • Bus t-shirts to showcase the logos of the sponsors
    • Food and Taxi/Bus/transportation for the week while in Austin.

Think about it.  Not only would you and/or your company/organization be getting national exposure at SxSW, but you would also be helping support your fellow Southerners by helping them focus on the end goal without the daily financial burdens that they might otherwise incur on a trip such as this.  Remember, this is the same festival where Twitter and Foursquare got launched into the national spotlight.  If you want to sponsor the bus leaving from Miami, please contact either me or Steve directly.

What are you waiting for? The bus rolls out from Miami on March 8th.  SxSW goes from March 11th through March 20th.  Let’s get on the bus and head to SxSW!!!!!!

 Posted by at 3:41 pm
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=587980251 Susie Steiner

    Yeah for Florida! So glad the bus is leaving from Miami. A great group of people in that area. Very thankful we have South Florida Social Geeks representing the tech community.

  • http://twitter.com/peerbackers peerbackers

    You can always raise money at http://peerbackers.com to get the funding you need to participate in The Startup Bus (including your SxSW admission and other travel costs, etc). Good luck – an awesome idea!

  • http://twitter.com/profitpeck Kirsten Peck

    I’ve put in my application and am now anxiously awaiting the selection process… My experience is in business development and strategic communications. I’ve started several biz myself and work with teen entrepreneurs as a mentor. This is a great project and I’d love to help promote it (and fundraise) before we leave! Call me, Kirsten Peck

  • http://mitchneff.com Mitch Neff

    This sounds like the jackpot of opportunities. Three days with other driven people working toward a launch strategy? …Awesome! South Florida has the talent and the drive to take this all the way. I look forward to supporting the South Florida Social Geeks however I can!

  • http://twitter.com/sflsocialgeeks SFL Social Geeks

    Mitch, thank you for your kind words and interest in supporting our cause. I have updated this blog post with a to of sponsorship opportunities. If you are interested in any of them, just reply to this comment and I’ll get in touch with you.

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