In early 2015 we had an idea to send more students to SXSW and give MI startups a presence on a world stage. 2 months later we brought this idea to life with the MSU Startup Bus. We transport and house students while promoting MI startups.
Our goal is to get more students involved with entrepruenership! There are multiple events and conferences across the US that have a huge and lasting impact on anyone who attends them. Unfortunately, for students they are usually costly to attend. This is where the Startup Bus comes in. We provide a safe and affordable option for transportation and housing to these conferences for students. To fund these adventures local MI startups purchase ad space on the exterior of the bus. This gives them an affordable way to promote themselves to thousands of potential customers while supporting other entrepruners.
This year the Startup Bus will be presented in the SXSW 2017 Interactive Expo Show. This event draws in 50,000+ people and technology media outlets from all over the world! Click here to see how you can get your startup on the bus and support all the student entrepruners to the 2017 SXSW Interactive Confrence.
How it all began
SXSW Interactive is one of the biggest startup conferences in the world. It draws in industry and world leaders to discuss the technology industry and launch new products. In the past some notable panel attendees have been: Barack Obama, Edward Snowden, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Welch, Mark Cuban, Travis Kalanick, Peter Thiel, Gary Vaynercheck, Guy Kawasaki, etc. The list is endless; if you want to be immersed in everything tech you need to get to SXSW Interactive. Over the winter break of 2014-2015 a small group of 10 students at the MSU Hatch were planning their trip down to SXSW but couldn't find a way to cover the costs. The hotel or Airbnb for a group of ten would cost almost $1,000/night! Adding in the cost of flights made it even more unrealistic, and the $1,200 badge pass hadn't even been taken into account. There had to be a solution.
One of the students, Patrick Chouinard, got an idea after seeing someone on Reddit convert a school bus into an RV. He merged that with the concept behind the million dollar homepage (link) to create an RV sponsored by MI startups. This would allow everyone to travel down to SXSW every year and save thousands! Within a week a kickstarter was launched to raise $20,000 to cover the cost of the bus (with renovations) and the badge passes.
Unfortunately, six weeks into the eight week campaign there was only $3,500 pledged and it looked like the end to a dream. That's when everyone's best came out. The kickstarter efforts were abandoned and everyone started cold calling startups in MI to raise more money outside of the kickstarter. In one week the combined efforts of everyone raised $12,350 and the University offered to cover the expense of the badge passes! The MSU Startup Bus was now a real possibility, but there was still a lot of work to be done.
There were only two weeks left until the departure date for SXSW. A bus had to sourced, reconstructed and registered as an RV to comfortably sleep 10 people. With a stroke of luck a bus that was already partially converted was found on the western edge of MI, and was purchased the same day.
It was immediately brought to the MSU Foundation to be housed for remodeling. After a few concept designs were laid out, and dozens of trips to Home Depot construction begun. Everyone worked around the clock, sometimes even sleeping there, for 7 days until the bus was complete. The bus had been completely transformed into a comfy living space with a living area, kitchen, bathroom, and enough beds to sleep 10 people. The next week they all departed East Lansing to complete an epic trip down SXSW in Austin Texas.
This year the Startup Bus is scheduled to travel back down to 2017 SXSW Interactive and will be featured in the Austin Convention Center to over 50,000 attendees. To support this awesome project and get a exposure in the biggest tech event of the year please contact us to sponsor!