One year ago, Jacek and I got on the NYC StartupBus and started Exversion. The ride didn’t stop once we got to Austin, but continued to an RV in SF, VIP parties in Washington, TechCrunch in Berlin, and keeps on rolling despite the blog silences as of late.
A month or two ago a VC told us to stop telling people we started this company on a bus. “It makes it sound easy,” he said. “If this is something that could be built on a bus then what’s to stop anyone from building one.”
What he didn’t understand, but you soon will 2014 Buspreneurs, is that StartupBus works hard to make sure the best possible candidates get on board and that alumni continue to support and help each other out. That’s what will make this trip one of the most insane, most amazing experiences you’ll ever have as a hacker.
But as you get ready to go, here are some things they probably haven’t told you:
1) Jailbreak your phone
Yes, there is Wifi on the bus. But it will be AWFUL. While your conductor and some of your busmates will probably bring Mifis with them, don’t leave things to chance: Unlimited data and jailbreak are your path to happiness. (Since Jailbreaking is um… illegal thanks to the Register of Copyrights at the Library of Congress, we don’t recommend you do it, but for purely educational reasons you should check out – http://evasi0n.com/)
2) Steal toilet paper everywhere you go
Getting stops out of your conductor will be a challenge, trust me. You’ll also eat at a lot of Walmarts. Subway is the StartupBus equivalent of the farmer’s market, you get it? And your conductor will try to make you believe that it is totally reasonable to restrict motion of the ocean to fifteen minute opportunities here and there, but there’s a bathroom on the bus for a reason.
3) Pack for three days
You’ll get so much swag from startups at SXSW, you’ll need the extra room in your luggage. Although, I don’t know many startups that give out branded underwear, so maybe stock up on that.
4) Half of the people on your bus will seem crazy, only a couple will be literally crazy
Not everyone who signed up will want to start a company. Some will be looking for adventure, some just want a whole bunch of people to hit SXSW with. Group think, sleep deprivation, and the extremeness of the road trip will enable even the most rational. It might all seem reckless and completely ridiculous, but you’ll bond in this bootcamp. When you get back to NYC (or where ever) you’ll have thirty new best friends.
5) Not everyone will stay committed, but it can work
A year later Jacek and I are still building. I’m still being flown around the world as the CTO of Exversion. StartupBus doesn’t have a shiny list of companies that actually became companies, but it happens more often than you might think. Your best chance at the post-Bus postscript is to find people you really enjoy working with. On the first day people will join groups based on what idea sounds the least likely to suck on day three and with people least likely to annoy the f*ck out of them along the way. Boot up your lotus position and do some koans because those two factors are not a recipe for a great team on their own. You will have to accept the reality that people will come and go. More to the point, you will have to let some people go. Who people are when they’re stuck on a bus together is not necessarily who they are when they get back into their routine at home.
Best of luck and safe journey to our 2014 Buspreneurs. Looking forward to seeing you guys in Austin!