StartupBus Florida: Notes from the Road

Posted by Arielle Stevenson on Sun, Mar 11, 2012 at 4:26 PM

StartupBus Florida left Tuesday morning bound for Austin.

Florida's StartupBus occupants have been busy creating, designing and launching a company in 72 hours on a bus traveling to Austin for SXSW Interactive. All are programmers, creatives, and businessmen hoping to submit their final pitch in a competition against teams from across the country. Venture capital awaits in the heart of Texas. We spoke with Shane Needham, senior producer at 22squared, as he traveled the long and winding road to Austin.

Sunday, March 11

***Update***

6:53 p.m.

Florida's StartupBus team, BumperCrop won runner-up at SXSW's StartupBus grand fiinale pitch competition.

Comments from judges included mentioned the application's goal of collaborative consumption for local produce and a means to improve food distribution and production.

Cerealize, a customized cereal website from Silicon Valley, won first place.

5:47 p.m.

"In Florida, everybody either grows their own oranges or knows someone who does," presenter Will Mitchell of Tampa told the panel. "People grow food for themselves and have plenty of extra. demand for locally grown food. no distribution for them.
According to Mitchell, there are 40 million home-based farms in the United States. Half of those are less than 100-square-feet. BumperCrop is an application allowing small growers to post extra produce to those looking to buy hyper-locally. Growers would be charged an annual subscription fee to post produce for sale.

"We want to connect people within 5-10 miles," Mitchell said. "And grow a community-driven food market."

Panelests addressed concerns over how big the actual market is and whether those selling would be open to using new technology to sell produce. BumperCrop also hopes to include a feature allowing growers to donate ripe produce to food banks.

"We want to connect people that are currently throwing away extra food," Mitchell said. "We would allow them to donate it to local food banks, that really need that food, if it's going to spoil."

Out of many, eight teams are presenting live now. Watch here.

StartupBus Florida's BumperCrop is going up to present now.

Guests on pitch panel:

Robert Scoble, Rackspace
Elias Bizannes, StartupBus Founder
Guy Kawasaki, Alltop
Dave McClure, 500 Startups
Paul Signh, 500 Startups
Luis Robles, Sequoia Capital
Nicole Glaros, Techstars

5:20 p.m

Shane Needham's team project BumperCrop presenting at the finals Sunday afternoon. Watch their pitch video The concept is "A platform for connecting conscious consumers with passionate growers".

Needham's team, Bumpercrop, posted a preview of their project here. Sunday they will pitch their idea against teams from across the country. All teams are vying for seed money to put their 72-hour projects into action .Watch them pitch their projects live here.

12:34 p.m

We made to Austin and along the way each team put
together some great ideas and work.

As of yesterday, our team, BumperCrop, has made it through the
semi-finals and into the finals which will be tonight beginning at 4pm
EST. We'll be pitching against 7 other teams in front of an expert
panel that includes Robert Scoble and a few venture capitalists.

This has been an intense time and a great learning experience that I
have no doubt I'll carry with me forever. And we never thought we'd
make it this far.

Friday the bus arrived in San Antonio to meet with other StartupBus groups. Hacking and hustling their hearts away, final touches were put on projects as the bus hurtled towards Austin. The best teams were selected from five teams onboard to present Sunday at SXSW Interactive.

Thursday, March 8 at 11:25 a.m.

Last night we had a nice time visiting with the Startup Drinks Atlanta group at 5 Seasons Westside. We got to chat with other startup-minded folks about our ideas and gain insight and contacts.

Many of us worked into the late hours of the night and we were on the bus again by 9:00AM. So far so good today. Seems like all our teams are making good progress after a little sleep last night.

We're currently about 50 miles east of Montgomery, Alabama headed toward Baton Rouge where we'll meet up with several other Startup Buses from Ohio, New York and Boston.

We've got four official teams on the Florida bus with four unique ideas. We have an educational tool for tying educational opportunities to children's favorite movies through the use of a tablet and mobile technology. We have two social giving ideas, one where the users are asked to not only give financially but some of their love and care to the cause as well. The other leverages celebrities by getting them to commit to a stunt or dare if a certain fundraising goal is met. The final idea is one that connects local home-based food growers with their community to buy/sell/trade excess inventories they may have.

We'll be sorting out final details of our business models and developing our product today. Later this afternoon we'll likely begin assembling the outline of our presentations.

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