Rolling through Western Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh, the keyboards were clicking and eyelids were closing. The 30 “buspreneurs” departed before dawn from Washington and eight hours of travel was beginning to show. The bus feels more like a library than an office on wheels.
Self-organizing ruled the start. While waiting for the bus to arrive, most people were already networking. Once the bus took off, passengers walked to the front of the bus in no particular order to pitch business concepts. Several people presented more than once.
The ideas varied wildly. There was a smartphone application that tracks nutritional information and another to buy sporting event tickets. Some of the ideas were well thought out, while others seemed spontaneous.
We stopped for lunch at Denny’s and the scene can best be described as chaos. We were seeking out the creators of concepts that they found most appealing and debating whether it was truly worth their already limited amount of time.
Once we sat down to eat, ideas started to merge and teams were formed. Parts of one idea was combined with parts of another and became the basis for a team. By the time we were back on the bus just a short time later, the teams were formed.
The final business ideas represented all the basics of life, including sports, sex, food, giving and education.
Before the first day drew to a close, projects had names and tag lines. Heads were down as coding began and buspreneurs began to lay the groundwork for viable businesses. Everyone was thinking wireframes. The time to work had officially begun.
The writer, a programmer, is a passenger on the D.C. StartupBus, which is a bus of entrepreneurs headed to the South By Southwest festival in Austin.