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If This Bus Could Talk… Young Entrepreneurs Roll Into Boulder Startup Week

By Shay Castle Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) I love the concept of the StartupBus competition. StartupBus is essentially a technology competition held aboard three-day bus rides. On the buses, contestants are tasked with creating the perfect company while traveling cross-country. Let's hope we get some cool news on women in business from these rolling incubators.

Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.

At 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, Evan Krishner got onto a bus with about 30 strangers in New York City.

He knew it was headed for Boulder, but he didn't know when they would arrive, where he would be staying, or what might happen along the way.

The only thing he knew for sure was that by the time they rolled into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, he had to have developed a viable business with a team of people he didn't know.

Krishner had boarded Startup Bus, a technology competition held aboard three-day bus rides in which contestants are tasked with creating the perfect company while traveling cross-country -- and sometimes, cross-continent.

The scene Krishner found himself in this week was repeated in five other cities throughout North America: Tampa, Fla.; Akron, Ohio; San Francisco; Vancouver, Canada; and Mexico City.

The 150 contestants arrived Tuesday night and landed at Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place on Wednesday, where, as part of Boulder Startup Week, they started pitching their newly crafted business ideas to judges bright and early at 9 a.m.

"I've probably gotten 4 or 5 hours of sleep in the last 72 hours," said Amber Stickel, a developer from the Ohio cohort. Her team is working on a platform to connect small, local food producers to restaurants, as dictated by the bus' food and beverage theme.

"I've maybe had seven," chimed in teammate Tobias Oedegaard.

He and team member Isaac Greenberg, both students at the University of Halifax in Nova Scotia, flew down to Tampa from Canada to join the Florida delegation. The duo are working on their own startup back home and thought the Startup Bus would be excellent training for sleepless nights and high-pressure situations.

"This is the Navy Seals equivalent of startups," said Greenberg.

Big businesses like grocery delivery service Instacart were born during the combination hackathon/road trip, now in its sixth year, said event organizer Laura Horak.

Krishner is hoping for that level of success with his team's idea, a platform to connect emerging businesses and media, "eliminating the astronomical fees that they'd normally have to pay to a traditional PR firm."

Win or lose, the Startup Week activities are the perfect recruiting ground for potential users, Krishner said: "Every single company that people are building right now, they are going to need press."

Something else every participant is going to need? A ride home. Startup Bus pays for the trip out, but each contestant is own their own for the return journey.

Some people had plane tickets booked, but Ohio's Anna Bitters wasn't one of them.

"I'm still working on it," she said. "I might carpool or take a bus.

"All I know for sure is that I'm sleeping here for a couple of nights."

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