Last week was the re-birth of a StartupBus starting from Amsterdam. It took my fellow organisers (cheers to Mike, Steven, Magnus and Vidar) and myself a lot of time and effort in these last couple of months but it was all worth it.
Elias the founder of StartupBus describes organising a bus like “organising a wedding, only the band cancels two weeks in advance, the catering one week in advance and the bride on the day before“.
When we decided to organise a bus from Amsterdam we gave ourselves a small challenge, we just not wanted to drive a bus from point A to point B, we wanted to visit as much cool places as possible and have as many nationalities on board as we could get on.
I mean if I wanted to meet local Dutch entrepreneurs I won’t need to go on board a bus I can already do that right? So what did we end up with? Some small stats:
- driving almost 2400KM in 72 hours (compared to the average of 1500KM for the other buses)
- having 12 nationalities on board
- building and launching four companies (Eyedia / Learnings Of Life / Unplanned / Aiden)
- sleeping an average of 2-3 hours a night
- writing StartupBus history by not only producing the winner but also the runner-up from one and the same bus
For me personally this year’s StartupBus was way more intense then it was last year, our original goal was to each join a team as a mentor and a participant but on the last bit Mike and myself decided to not join a team and be a fulltime mentor on board next to making sure every stop of the bus was running as smooth as possible.
Let me tell you, mentoring is a lot harder when all of the ideas on the bus are awesome and you want to spend as much time as possible with each of them. So you what made it so that we had such good teams on board, what can you do to succeed in the finals and win the StartupBus?
Let me give you a small list of items which are very important for winning such an intense hackathon but also things you need to know when you want to succeed with any startup:
- Your business model: No company can survive without a proper business model. This year I saw each teams drawing up the business model canvas on the window of the bus, working actively with post-its to get their business model right. This thinking from the start helps you clearly define your customer segment, the relation you want to build with your customer etc. Doing this from the start will already give you a head start;
- Your product: StartupBus is not just any hackathon in which sometimes teams can win just by having a fancy presentation at the end. At StartupBus we are creating businesses, having a working product demo at the end of the route is a very big plus;
- Traction: even if you got your business model straight and you have your product ready every company needs to find traction they need to have a blog up and running, writing press releases, a presence in the Social Network of choice for your company etc. Let the world know you are out there.
- ABP: Always Be Pitching even if you wake up in the middle of your sleep in the night and somebody asks you about your business you need to have your pitch ready in your head. To some extent this was also literally on our bus when we did a pitch round during the night and one of the teams was asleep. We woke them up and they needed to do their pitch.
- Having an awesome team: as one of the buspreneurs from the French bus tells in this article “You can pivot a project but not fix a team. Finding a team you like is more important than finding a project you want to pursue.”
- And at the end of the day, don’t forget to have some fun also. I said it before: “Choose a job you love and you will never work another day“
That’s it, I had a blast thanks to our amazing sponsors NH, apphappening and Cronos and of course our amazing buspreneurs for helping us creating legends! Oh and have a look out for StartupBus Africa which will start its maiden voyage on the 17th of November and they can still use some sponsoring.