4 Nov 2014
StartupBus: The Final Stretch
4 Nov 2014
This is the third and final installment of the blog series about our journey aboard the StartupBus. To get the full story, check out at part 1 and part 2 as well.
Day 4 was going to be a lot of bus time. We would travel from Berlin through the Czech Republic, stopping for a total of about an hour (not even all at once). Working on the bus, pitching on the bus, sleeping on the bus (but not really) we were definitely going to wear a groove in our seats…
We did have a nice highlight before we left Berlin, stopping off at Rainmaking Loft, a great co-working space with strong coffee, wifi and even a baby grand piano.
Time flew at the Rainmaking Loft and we made the most of our solid internet connection before being herded out (politely) to start our mammoth road trip. It was pitch polish time for some teams and ‘code as fast as humanly possible’ for others – a live demo always goes down well, but pulling one off smoothly is quite another matter.
Although we traveled through the Czech Republic, the only stops were for diesel, food and a minor misunderstanding with the police. Apparently our high tech ‘road tax black box thing’ which allowed us through the country wasn’t scanning properly at checkpoints. It took a while to sort out, but I’m not sure the Buspreneurs even noticed we weren’t moving at that point.
Finally, we arrived in Vienna at 2am for pitches and feedback. However, this was the last chance to change anything as demo day was upon us, quite literally. Turbo sleep!
All the buses: Estonia, Greece, France, Italy, Germany and the UK had pulled up. A lot of tired but excitable Buspreneurs. Pitch time. A warm introduction from Elias Bizannes, Startup Bus founder… and then the green flag dropped.
A ruthlessly enforced 3 minutes was all that was available to showcase 4 days work and another 3 minutes for a grilling by the judging panel. If you made it to the next round – you got a whole 4 minutes.
The bus startups ranged from video recruitment to music tagging, through ‘clubbing Fitbits’ to a ‘Tinder for intimacy’ (shout out to the French bus for that one!). These were whittled down to 6 for the final, with a few wildcards thrown in, who got a minute to convince the judges to listen – by way of crowd support (something the Italian bus had down to a very noisy art form).
The dust settled and the agonizing wait began. Originally the results were scheduled to be after the demos, but in a classic bait and switch, the top three would be announced at the after party, just to add a little more anticipation. The 3 podium places would get 3, 2 and 1 month respectively at the Startup House (another Elias Bizannes venture!) in San Francisco to develop their projects further.
After a quick freshen up (and a 10 minute power nap) we ventured ‘downtown’ to The Red Room – a very red downstairs bar with just enough room to squeeze some very excitable people in – I thought my photos came out well… until I saw them.