Goodwill and no-nonsense values

StartupBus began with a premise that if you put sharp people on the bus, including all associated constraints, interesting things come out of it. Last year it was one bus with dreamers that come from distant parts of USA but also UK and Australia. The dreamers kept dreaming and today, a year later, 6 buses hit the road at around 7am in their respective timezones. Equipped with determination to find new ideas to improve or build technology that will help the world, these buspreneurs have witnessed yet again how hard work and goodwill prevails. Yesterday people bussed, flew and drove to Chicago from surrounding states including, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, and Arkansas. To kick things off Lightbank hosted a launch party in one of Chicago’s poster child (aka Groupon) offices, where buspreneurs met some of the founders in Lightbank’s portfolio of companies. This set the tone nicely for the event showing buspreneurs what is possible with determination and right mix of tech prowess and execution. In fact, having spent a few months in the valley, I was clearly seeing how midwest attitude was enmeshed in the way businesses are done here. Quite a few of Lighbank’s portfolio founders were non-technical founders; men and women with vision, persistence and ability to identify the needs and address them with the right solution – were closing funding rounds to rival those in the valley. In contrast on the west coast – focus is spotlighted heavily on technical founders and other skills are looked down upon. 

Day 1 on the bus picked up speed fast with only one stop Wisconsin Dells (not really… looking at you Mikey). We hit St. Paul, MN by 5pm where tables were set and power outlets were dusted off for buspreneurs at CoCo Coworking & Collaboration space.

People were down to earth, food and drinks were aplenty with enough wifi to share for everybody. ProjectSkyway, a new incubator footed the bill for food and drinks. They have an unconventional approach to funding entrepreneurs, which again confirmed my previous observation about the no-nonsense, midwestern attitude toward business founders’ background. Unlike most other incubators, they fund single founders and they supply them with technical employees that help execute the business. We had a great time and it was thanks to a real warm reception of all people at CoCo and ProjectSkyway. 

As conductor of the Chicago bus I am confident that we’ll put on a real fight to show both coasts (NYC and Silicon Valley) that midwest has talent to match. 

Highlights from today: Wired article on StartupBus | Pitches at CoCo | StartupBus Stock Market Game – go invest in startups as they are being created. 

Photo credit: Wired – people on the San Francisco/Silicon Valley buses

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