Liveblogging the Startup Bus, Day 3: Descent Into Austin

8:38 a.m. — It’s the final day on the road before Austin! Day one’s liveblog from Tuesday is here; yesterday’s update is here. The Observer did not liveblog yesterday due to confusion with editors and sparse internet access. To summarize: Internet access was very spotty, which interfered with workflow. One of the bus drivers, Dane, judged a pitch-off. He liked TripMedi. We drove through a tornado. Three police motorcycles turned on their sirens and escorted the bus from the edge of Baton Rouge to the bar where the New Yorkers met the Miami buspreneurs, who had arranged for the escort as a joke. Buspreneurs wondered if it was possible to check into Baton Rouge. The bus organizers gave congratulatory speeches and an eager economic development officer from Baton Rouge talked about local efforts to promote the start-up scene, the first of two such speeches he would give that night. New Yorkers were very impressed with the sunset, and how fast it was! “This beats Starcraft.” The group was escorted by the police to the Embassy Suites, where the New York buspreneurs mingled minimally through dinner and drinks and then got to work. Several stayed up all night, sending periodic updates to everyone by email. “Jordan and I are literally standing while coding,” Hunch developer Ben Gleitzman wrote to the listserv at 6:50 a.m.

Buspreneurs are heads down now on the road to Austin.

9:01 a.m. — The Observer visited hotel rooms at 3:30 a.m. to collect quotes from the sleep-deprived buspreneuers, who had started to talk about hacking like junkies. “It’s like flow. Finding flow. Time sort of stops and everything is awesome.”

9:15 a.m. — Ben “Literally Standing While Coding” Gleitzman has tied his Startup Bus t-shirt around his head and fallen asleep.

9:36 a.m. — Teams are working on marketing and presentation now. Team Lemonade Stand has set up a phone number to call for a beta invite: 888-907-LMND. TripMedi had the luck of meeting a Miami buspreneuer last night who is going to Bulgaria for jaw surgery. They interviewed her on video for their promo video and are now editing. “These cons? We don’t want to say there are any cons at all. It’s all pros.”

9:49 a.m. — Kajoo: “We need to have a product before we have a sticker, I think.”

9:51 a.m. — Jon Gottfried, project manager for Lemonade Stand, overheard the word “stickers” and walked to the back of the bus to Kajoo. “I found a sticker-printing place in Austin that could get us stickers by tomorrow.” Okay, Kajoo is in! “Price is not an obstacle. We will spend up to $300 for 1,000 stickers.” Note: The youngest buspreneuer, Gottfried is 20.

10:14 a.m. — Tweet from John Britton of team Lemonade Stand: “Where can I get free stock footage of raining money for the @lmndst pitch video?”

10:51 a.m. — “Four-day old tweets are useless to us!”

10:58 a.m. — Buspreneurs are putting in sticker and business card orders.

11:13 a.m. — Energy level picks up. Mr. Gleitzman is awake. Bus driver Danny is snapping pictures of the bus with a disposable camera. Team Lemonade Stand calls in a favor and gets a radio host to record a voiceover for the start-up’s promo video. The Observer realizes the Startup Bus is basically The Apprentice with different game mechanics.

11:37 p.m. — Related: Stealth Startup’s Beta Invites Go Viral, Cause Scam Scare. A stealth start-up launching at SXSW–not on a bus–has collected 20,000 email addresses in less than two days from a generic splash page. “I think it’s one of the most fascinating examples of gamification of a beta invite without an actual product message in the least,” a founder said.

1:47 p.m. — Back on the bus after lunch at a taqueria with very Texas-sized, cheesy portions. Twilio evangelist John Britton shoots some video of bus driver Danny pretending to sell a yellow Hummer in the parking lot on The Lemonade Stand. “It’s all about the G-P-S!” he said, spreading his arms to indicate the wonders of global positioning. Now the buspreneurs are back to fixing bugs, excising difficult Foursquare data, editing promo videos and Bntering. The Observer’s Twitter account produced no results for “We have our first failure case. Cool.” You’re welcome!

2:21 p.m. — The promo video for reflects the company’s hacker-centric culture. “Lots of teams built fancy videos. We built an application that will help you find your new best friend.”

2:24 p.m. — Ejokulate, a start-up seeded on one of the San Francisco Chicago Startup Buses, is “spraying humor all over your Twitter stream,” “coming soon but not too soon,” and “can’t wait to ejokulate” all over SXSW.

2:33 p.m. — TripMedi posted a video, The Problem We Solve, featuring a Miami buspreneur:

3:09 p.m. — Ninety minutes ’til Austin. Code is due at 11:59 p.m., although buspreneurs can keep tweaking their apps until the official demo on Monday. Start-ups are using an app born at a New York City hackathon, GroupMe, to keep in touch.

3:39 p.m. — “Our first press release.” Aw.

4:18 p.m. — Less than half an hour to Austin. Everyone wants on the bus; the start-ups have been using Twitter to extract freebies from companies. Team WhadIMiss has arranged for a robotic voice to read their pop culture digest over the phone. The number is 202-688-5120. The bus has been thoroughly defiled. Fruit rots in an overhead compartment. The toilet radiates repugnant smells from the back of the bus; the rest of the coach smells like feet. Empty water bottles, Red Bull cans and chip bags decorate the tables and floor.

6:35 p.m. — The Startup Buspreneurs are at Vast, an Austin and San Francisco-based start-up, coding but gradually motivating to go drinking. They have until 6 a.m. to produce promo videos and the rest of the weekend to tweak their apps before the contest concludes with pitches and demos on Monday. The Observer will have the full story but this is the end of the movable liveblog!

ajeffries [at] | @adrjeffries

Liveblogging the Startup Bus, Day 3: Descent Into Austin