“I would say that it takes a very specific type of person to want to go on a three day bus trip on a cramped, smelly bus to try to launch a startup,” Jonathan Gottfried, a developer evangelist from Twilio told Betabeat last week. Mr. Gottfried was talking about the StartupBus, the pipe dream of an idea that started with a bus trip from San Francisco to SXSW in 2010, migrated to the New York City in 2011, and is now in Europe as well.
The bus trips–going to tech conferences like SXSW and now Le Web–consist of a competition where teams are formed, products built, and winners picked, all while hurtling along the highway.
“The goal is to have a prototype product that you can launch at SXSW,” Mr. Gottfried explained. And, over the course of the trip, “build a team from nothing and business from nothing,” he added, “The logistics of the StartupBus are very ad hoc, which is sort of the charm.” Alumni from that rolling boot camp can currently be found at promising, well-funded startups like Branch, Instacart, and Pushd. HipType, an ebooks analytics company formed on the Silicon Valley bus in 2012, even got backing from Y Combinator.
You can meet some of those community members Saturday, December 15th at the second StartupBus:Accelerate event hosted at the Alley NYC in Midtown. Veteran StartupBus rider Mr. Gottfried, whose company is one of the sponsors, emphasized that the BarCamp-like “unconference” will be organized according to the same ad hoc spirit. Thus rather than quietly listening to panels, designated facilitators help attendees discuss topics they’re interested in. At the last event, there were workshops on how hacker culture could be good for business and teaching yourself to code. This year, UX design is also on the agenda.
“We essentially have sort of a brain trust where we discuss strategies we’ve developed over the years,” which can be useful to new entrants to the startup scene, said Mr. Gottfried. “They get to sit and have deep off-the-cuff conversations about real problems and solutions that people have encountered.”
And although you don’t have to have participated in the StartupBus in order to attend, if you want to compete this year, the event is a good primer. ”Accelerate is an awareness exercise as much as it is a community mind meld,” added Mr. Gotfried.
Like the volunteer-driven StartupBus, Mr. Gottfried is hoping that Accelerate events in New York will be build a template that can be copied in other cities. “We’re not necessarily going to fly out and run those,” he acknowledged.
Tickets are $50 for general admission, $20 for students, but lucky Betabeat readers can click here for a 20 percent off discount.