The geeky route to Nashville: StartupBus North America

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Hackathons, those lately ubiquitous marathons of design, tech and inspiration, have always been a fun way to take myself  out of my client mindset. Build an app that begs to be made? Solve a problem with a team thrown together just an hour before? It’s all in a weekend’s work, and the late hours, the wild brainstorming and camaraderie usually stay with me.

You may have heard of the StartupBus, the most famous of which still ends at SXSW in Austin in March. Starting tomorrow, I’m going to be on one of the StartupBus North America coaches, journeying across the continent to land in Nashville on June 8.

The principles are the same as a hackathon, but instead, motor coaches filled with 25-30 hipsters (designers), hackers (developers) and hustlers (sales) meet up in a city. We wend our way across the continent, eventually ending in Nashville. It’s 54 hours of coding and creating, trying to find support for our ideas, and a chance to to pitch in Nashville. There, the winning idea is tweaked even further and competes against all of the other buses’ winners. A famous winning entry is Instacart, which received funding and has been expanding its startup over the last few years.

Of course, logistics: We’ll get hotels or camp each evening, but most alumni agree that sleep is a precious commodity on the bus. There’s been mention of late night Waffle House runs and getting pretty slap happy by the time it’s over.I have a general clue of our secret route, as my bus is the only hardware bus, we need to stop at hardware maker spaces along the way. It seems we’ll hit Detroit, Pittsburgh, and finally, Nashville. How much we’ll see of a city? I have a feeling it won’t be much. But the thrill of the maker bus is is that we’re not building an app – it’s very possibly a physical product, like a wearable. The Internet of Things.

Want to follow along? Follow @gizmodesign on Twitter for my take, and also #StartupBus, @TheStartupBus@StartupBusMAKE (the bus I’ll be on).

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