Want help pursuing a big idea? Get on the StartupBus in Tampa

If you have that entrepreneurial spirit, it’s not too late to get on the bus.

StartupBus Florida, the Tampa-based route in a national competition that’s part tech entrepreneur boot camp and part road trip, is still accepting applications for innovative individuals who want to compete in this year’s StartupBus North America 2019, which runs July 24-28.

Now in its 10th year, StartupBus features several busloads of entrepreneurs converging on New Orleans from New York, Silicon Valley, Washington D.C., Mexico City, and other metropolitan areas. During a 72-hour road trip, they pitch business ideas, form teams around those ideas, and launch a startup company before vying for top prizes in New Orleans.

More than 1,700 tech-minded entrepreneurs have participated worldwide to date. Alumni-formed companies include Instacart, the banking app Monzo, the Mark Cuban-backed AI company Node, and many more.

Last year, a team formed on the road trip from Tampa, dadSAK, which developed a dad’s backpack to carry infants, baby gear, and other miscellaneous items, was the national runner-up.

Nick PriceThis year, StartupBus alumni Nick Price will be the “conductor,” or organizer for the “buspreneurs” heading out of Tampa. Price competed in 2015 and 2016.

“For me, It was a fully immersive learning experience,” Price recalls “I learned how to do teamwork under strenuous deadlines, how to think outside the box more than I already had and, when something wasn’t working, how to find a way to solve it. It really helped my creative problem-solving skills.”

The Tampa route can accommodate up to 30 participants. At this point, Price says they are on pace for about 20, so spaces are available.

“Anyone with a developer skill set, a designer skill set, business skills, if they have that entrepreneurial spirit and want to try something new, we would be happy to have them,” Price says.

Discount tickets and travel packages, some covering all costs, are available for eligible economically disadvantaged riders who would otherwise not be able to participate.

StartupBus is run by its volunteer alumni network with some financial help from business sponsorships. A commitment to diversity includes a bus reserved for black tech entrepreneurs. The event’s organizing team is made up of more than 40 percent women and more than 40 percent people of color.

Back in 2010, the first StartupBus included 25 strangers riding from San Francisco to Austin, Texas for SXSW. Since then, alumni have raised more than $1 billion for their startups and competitions have spread to four continents.

“It started with the one bus in California and has gone to be a multi-national global community, which is really neat to see,” Price says.

To get more information on StartupBus Florida and apply, go to: StartupBus Florida.

For more information on the organization, go to: StartupBus.

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. Chris spent more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys our local music scene, great weather and the wealth of outdoor festivals.
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