At 8am CST entrepreneurial teams from the StartupBus convoy arrived at the Rackspace Castle to a rousing welcome from the Rackspace Startup Program and the pulse of the company, hundreds of Rackers. These startup teams have been on the road traveling to Texas in anticipation of SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) which kicks off this evening in Austin, Texas. East Coast, West Coast, the Midwest and Mexico were represented on the StartupBuses. This brief stopover at Rackspace was to celebrate startups and spotlight the companies they have been developing and building on the road.
The grand event was hosted by Rackspace’s own startup evangelist, Robert Scoble and the startup teams were welcomed by Lanham Napier, CEO of Rackspace. First up was Guy Kawasaki, entrepreneur and startup advisor. Kawasaki helped facilitate a chat with Rackspace Co-founders Pat Condon and Dirk Elmendorf, who spoke about how Rackspace was a startup just a few short years ago, and what it took to make it a viable technology company in its space.
Following the Rackspace startup story, a panel of industry experts was assembled to witness pitches from the StartupBus teams. The panel consisted of StartupBus Founder Elias Bizannes, Dave McClure and Paul Signh from 500 Startups, Luis Robles of Sequoia Capital, Nicole Glaros from TechStars, cartoonist Hugh MacLeod from Gaping Void along with Condon, Elmendorf, Graham Weston and Pat Matthews from Rackspace.
StartupBus teams were able to give a brief pitch of their ideas to the panel, and the experts then provided feedback on the product. Some of the standout startups were SimplyApp, from the Cincinnati bus which has devised a simple way to rate and log your favorite beverage. It’s like Foodspotting for liquids. On the Washington DC bus was Tourious, which encourages knowledgeable and passionate locals to guide curious travelers looking for authentic, relevant and custom city tours of truly local hangouts. And lastly, Floridian startup Bumpercrop.co helps food growers to connect with consumers on a hyper-local basis over the web.
Robert Scoble wrapped up the event with Lessoned Learned from StartupBus and then it was off to ATX for SXSWi. It is important for StartupBus teams to keep in mind the importance of vision, market and traction of their final product while polishing their go to market plan. If you are a startup team on one of the StartupBuses and need assistance with your Cloud Computing platform, check out the Rackspace Startup Program for the rocket fuel you’ll need to launch your business or send the Space Cowboys a message. Best of luck to all of the startup team members on StartupBus!