Last week, we put a bunch of Cisco Spark and Tropo developer mentors on buses around the country and watched as teams of “buspreneurs” created products and companies as they trekked to Boulder, CO over four days from six points around North America.
This crazy idea is called Startup Bus, and it’s sort of an extreme hackathon for people who want to build a real company. Cisco was proud to sponsor the Startup Bus along their journey, and to provide mentorship, product, and financial support during the grueling trip. Teams organized and communicated amongst themselves and with the other buses using Cisco Spark and many built products on the Cisco Tropo API.
A few of the standouts using Tropo APIs were GlassTable which alerts local farmers to distribution opportunities while they’re out in the field, Squad which helps people organize travel for group activities, and UBR Guides which helps you find a local tour guide to show you around town.
Each bus ended their travels at Boulder Startup Week where they pitched their newly-created products in an all-day semifinal competition. The teams that made it through this round then spent the next 24 hours honing their pitches and their products to present in front of a panel of TechStars judges for the chance to win the grand prize. The finals competition was held at Spark Haus, a takeover of the Startup Week basecamp where you can learn from mentors, experience Cisco products, take part in various Startup Week events, like a startup hiring fair and Ignite Boulder.
The overall winner of the Startup Bus, and the winner of both the Cisco and Uber sponsored prizes, was TuB - a product designed to bring you curated content from your social and reading feeds, targeted to the amount of time you have to view it. Hop in an Uber and get a text message via Tropo or Facebook Messenger offering you some things to read or watch that will take up just the amount of time of your Uber trip. They’ve won mentoring from Startup Bus alumni, a trip to San Francisco to pitch the Spark Innovation Fund and have dinner with some Cisco execs, $1000 in Tropo credit, $800 in Uber credit, and a mentoring session with Uber developer experts.
It’s impressive to see how much can be built on a cross-country roadtrip with a bunch of coders, designers, and business minds. We had a fantastic time spending the week with the buspreneurs, showing them how Cisco Spark and Tropo can be used to spark innovation.