It’s 11:45 p.m. on Tuesday, somewhere just outside of Nashville. I’ve been awake since 4:30 a.m., riding in a pressure cooker on wheels and the delirium is just beginning to set in — in a good way. It’s what will get me through the night, and now it’s made me realize the core values of the StartupBus experience: disruption and obstruction.
Disruption is the goal. Our groups have all set out to use the skills we have to shake up processes or activities commonplace enough that you may not think they need a nudge. Whether it’s teacher rating systems (UltraRating), Internet window-shopping (Bento Box) or the process of looking for a Redskins-friendly sports bar (my team, SportsBadgr), we want to build tools to help you do something better.
The obstruction, however, is everything that makes building those companies difficult. There isn’t enough room on the bus for the 30 people it houses. The Internet is spotty. Power sources are scarce. And I’m in no position to go to sleep if we’re going to finish this smartphone app on schedule. Our ideas are grand, but time is tight.
As the clock ticks we are forced to look at our dream, and chip away the layers to a product we can, in actuality, finish in three days work. For me and my fellow “buspreneurs,” this kind of exercise is a welcome change. Existing among a group of creative people who live life outside the box, there is immeasurable value in a jolt like this competition.
In the end, disruption is the lesson. We weren’t told much about how the whole thing would go until we were actually on the bus. There was deliberately little said about the process, and on the first day we’ve already made one unscheduled stop where each team was asked to pitch their companies, only hours old.
Experiencing setbacks along this journey is nearly inevitable as we learn what we know and what we don’t. It’s true trial by fire. For me, there’s no better way to learn.
The writer, co-founder at Kerplinq, a D.C.-based software design and development company, is a passenger on the D.C. StartupBus, which is a bus of entrepreneurs headed to the South By Southwest festival in Austin.