Don't Miss The Bus

Don't Miss The Bus


Jul 26th, 2017

The Startupbus is a totally unique “Hackathon, road trip and global community.” This annual competition puts Entrepreneurs, Makers, and Techies all on a bus traveling across North America with the goal of conceiving, building and launching a Startup in 72 hours. It’s one hell of a ride for sure.

This latest edition culminates in New Orleans, where 7 buses from 2 countries will meet and compete for Startup glory. The Makerbus stands out amongst the 7 busses because teams are required to build physical prototypes of their products while on the road. For this bus it’s not just about the business plan, it’s about making a tangible product. Building on a bus can get tricky (where do you keep the chop saw or the lasers?) which is why they will be stopping at makerspaces all along the way. Kyle Mckee, Makerbus conductor explains that “being maker focused has also allowed [them] to work with awesome local sponsors like MakerGear, who is providing a pair of their fantastic M2 3d printers which will be operational on the bus while we're driving.” Kyle is a software developer, hardware hacker, community organizer and tech speaker that hails from Cleveland, OH. This is his second year with the Makerbus.

Along with the unique challenges of prototyping on the road, the maker theme of this bus “adds a whole new dimension of complexity (and fun!) to the experience.  You haven't lived until you've frantically soldered components together in the parking lot of a gas station in the middle of nowhere, Arkansas.” says Kyle.  Last year the Makerbus prototyped Bluetooth beacons to track different assets in a commercial or industrial setting.” Business owners curious about the use of tools such as a forklift or tow motor could use this tech to track the frequency of use and then make informed decisions about upgrading or adding additional assets.

Kyle explains that the hardest part of the trip is “keeping focused on the most valuable things for three days straight.  It's easy to lose focus and start bike-shedding, but when you're on the bus you don't have time for that.  Making sure that teams stay focused on what the most valuable things they can get done in 3 days on a bus is the key to success.” In just 3 days last year’s Makerbus team was able to create a working demo that could monitor a Bluetooth beacon. The ride is tough but Kyle says that “hands down the best part is the people. I've met a ton of awesome, skilled, motivated people, and we all have this crazy experience in common.”

These wanderlust entrepreneurs will be kickstarting their creativity and getting into the maker mindset, just two hours into their trip right here at the Idea Foundry. “When selecting places that the bus can stop, we're usually looking for a few things.  Places to get work done, places that are inspiring, and places that are full of smart and motivated people.  The Idea Foundry ticks all those boxes, so we're pretty excited to get to spend some time in the space!”

To learn more about the Startup Bus challenge  or how to join a team visit: