The venture capital world is full of cheesy, gimmicky and downright ludicrous ideas. Some are so harebrained they actually work, and StartupBus, a collection of road-tripping entrepreneurs creating companies while riding to a conference, may be one of them.
It sounds like the premise of a reality TV show, as 60 entrepreneurs are picked to live in a bus and have their 65-mile-an-hour lives documented by every single venture and tech blog in existence.
For 48 hours, the fearless “bus-preneurs” ride together in close quarters as they battle fatigue, car sickness and truck-stop coffee, all under the guise of creating The Next, Big, Startup. Will they survive? Will their company get backing? Only time will tell. Stay tuned.
Founder Elias Bizannes (@EliasBiz) fully admits that the idea started as a drunken joke. And, hey, it’s not too far from Startup Weekend, a multi-city, international challenge where teams of entrepreneurs and mentors compete to create companies in 54 hours. Now in its second year, the 2011 StartupBus program included busses from six different U.S. cities, housing 38 teams, all chugging down the highway to reach Austin, Texas, for the South by Southwest interactive conference in March.
It’s certainly novel enough to capture media attention. But the formula really works, according to those involved. This year, two startups were selected by judges as the StartupBus “winners.”
Walkin, a mobile app which allows restaurant-goers to “scan-in” and track their place while they wait for a table; and TripMedi, a website designed to help users research overseas medical options. The top companies received a dinner with investors from Polaris Ventures. Other companies to emerge from the buses have been offered angel investments, which Bizannes has encouraged his bus-preneurs to decline.
Bizannes—who chairs the DataPortability Project and created the Silicon Beach community in Australia—argues that the point of the bus is to create and strengthen relationships and communities first.
And if real companies emerge from the event, it’s an added bonus.
VCs on the Silver Screen
Perhaps the success of Best Picture Oscar nominee “The Social Network” is making film producers take a hard look at the VC industry and its stories.
Last month, at the South by Southwest Music film festival in Austin, Texas, moviegoers saw a screening of “Something Ventured,” a documentary that follows the “risk takers who partnered with visionary entrepreneurs to create revolutionary companies and start the venture capital industry.”
Narrated by San Francisco author Po Bronson, the film features interviews with some of the VCs of the 1950s and 1960s, and offers a rare glimpse of what Silicon Valley was like 50 years ago when the two words “venture” and “capital” were auspiciously joined to form a multi-billion-dollar industry.
In the 90-minute film, investors and entrepreneurs interviewed include the Silicon Valley old guard: Nolan Bushnell (Atari), Reid Dennis (Institutional Venture Partners), Bill Draper (Draper Richards), Pitch Johnson (Asset Management Co.), Dick Kramlich (New Enterprise Associates), Tom Perkins (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers), Arthur Rock (Arthur Rock & Co.) and Don Valentine (Sequoia Capital), among others.
A blogger from the JAGWIRE Group, a PR consultancy, wrote that “Something Ventured” is a must see for everyone in the tech business, “but it will captivate most anyone who uses a computer, creates PowerPoint presentations, once played Pong or has ever started a business.
In perhaps a sign that folks really do not understand what takes place at a VC firm, actress Michelle Trachtenberg, who plays Buffy‘s kid sister and the baddie on “Gossip Girl,” has landed the female lead in a new CBS workplace comedy. In the untitled project, which includes funny man Adam Sandler as a producer, Trachtenberg plays an “employee at a high-powered venture capital firm who was suddenly promoted out of the mailroom and into a junior associate position,” according to one entertainment blog.
We didn’t even know VC firms had mailrooms.
Baker Gets the Bug to Jitter
, who recently joined venture firm General Catalyst Partners as an EIR, busted out his blue jeans and white T-Shirt in March for a fundraiser called “Dancing with the Needham Stars.”
Baker jitterbugged to the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s “Sittin’ on It All the Time” with his dance instructor, Alicia Reilly Santamaria.
Baker, who ran a failed bid to be governor of Massachusetts, was in it to win it. He “worked hard on his routine since January and … he devoted multiple Saturdays to learning his moves,” Santamaria told the Boston Globe.
The hard work did not pay off, however. Baker and his partner “finished out of the money,” Baker wrote on his Facebook page.