Timothy Gaull has an idea, a system that will ease the enrollment process for college students. Hed like to sell it on the open market. But first he plans to sell it to fellow buspreneurs.
By DIANE STAFFORD
The Kansas City Star
Gaull, 27, who works at AvidMobile, a mobile marketing company in Kansas Citys River Market, will join other would-be business creators, designers, computer coders and marketers on a StartupBus, scheduled to depart Sunday morning from the Kauffman Foundation.
Most of the riders will be packing startup business ideas. On the road to San Antonio, they hope to win over fellow riders to support their proposals. By the time the StartupBus journey ends, they expect to have coalesced around a handful of ideas unveiled en route and be ready to present the winning ideas to venture capitalists.
This is the fourth year for the StartupBus competition, designed to bring entrepreneurially minded people together for groupthink with an end goal: business creation.
The Kansas City bus is one of seven that will leave different cities and converge this year in San Antonio. From among 50 or 60 ideas that come off the buses, 10 to 15 will be chosen to present to the group in San Antonio, and about a half dozen will be selected to present to a judging team.
Participants are paying $300 each to ride the bus, plus covering all their food and lodging expenses and paying for their own transportation back to their home cities. Gaull thinks the experience will set him back $1,200.
Its definitely not a free ride, he said. But I think it will be worth it. It will be an amazing trip because of the people on the bus. Its about developing a network of really brilliant people from around the world.
The StartupBus is a petri dish to see in close quarters what happens in the real world a collaborative effort to push businesses beyond the idea stage.
The exciting thing is that you dont really know what will come out of it, said Melissa Roberts, another Kansas City bus rider. Whats appealing to me is looking at a new way of things getting done.
Roberts, 26, last year founded Free State Strategy Group, a marketing firm. She has been active in the Kauffman Foundations 1 Million Cups entrepreneurial networking organization and heard about the StartupBus experience that way.
I figure it will be a good educational investment for me, she said. And I hope the experience will be priceless.
That kind of enthusiasm is what StartupBus founder Elias Bizannes hoped to foment when he conceived the idea in Silicon Valley in 2010. Interested people apply online to be on a bus. Organizers have picked this years participants, and the actual startup teams will be created after the bus doors close.
Thus the resulting startup pitches in San Antonio may come from riders who were strangers to one another three days before. Teams on the Kansas City business will be coordinated by Ricky Robinett, a developer with Twilio and a StartupBus alumnus.
A kickoff party will be held Saturday night at Snow & Co. in the Crossroads District.
To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.