Startup Bus


After a year from my inaugural Startup Bus trip I circled back to the origin of my tech passion and hopped back on for the second round. However this time with the distinct difference of running the bus. This brief details both the initial journey and subsequent coaching experience.

Starting the engine

First year of college, freshly eighteen, and I was feeling the mounting pressure of locking in a pre-med degree in Neuroscience. Not only was I feeling mildly claustrophobic by the prospect of signing off decade to med school, but also yearned to experience life outside of the confines of academia. There is only so much a textbook can teach you before you need to go out, get dirty, and learn it yourself. I saved up my pennies, bought a ticket, and hopped on.
The first round can only be described as a Silicon Valley fever dream, ironic given the fact that most of our team didn’t sleep for the better part of the 72 hours. My team and I had decided to build a microlending blockchain application in response to the rising promise of cryptocurrency being used in countries with unreliable fiat. In 2017, I hadn’t even heard of ‘Crypto’ yet, and now I was to design, market, and build this thing with four other strangers? Absolutely. On the highway at 60 MPH, my team was wrestling with wifi and furiously contacting investors while I dove into designing our UX/UI and pitch decks. Every few hours, you’d get the momentary wifi outage and all of the teams would raise their heads in lament only to realize we were passing by the most beautiful lakes and mountain views. After three days of traveling to national incubators, pitching our hearts out, and working on bringing our product to life, we arrived in New Orleans sleepless but motivated. There was a sense of a unified working passion that I truly cannot put into words. We were eliminated in the first round of finals (the judges were concerned whether crypto was a solely dark market currency) but as we walked out laughing and crying there was this collective realization of the people, our close-knit team, and not the product that had made this whole trip worthwhile. 

50:50 Crystal | Rose
Latent Space Walk 50:50 Crystal | Rose
50:50 Crystal | Rose
75:25 Crystal | Rose
75:25 Crystal | Rose

Back on the road again

After two years and a major switch to a Computer Science, I had returned to lead a NYC Startup Bus of my own. What I hadn’t anticipated is that being a conductor is exponentially more intense than participating ever was. You are the accountant, logistical route planner, teacher, and occasionally judge for your entire bus of thirty people. All of that, on top with nudging your budding teams towards a version of pitching and product development that you think would make them most successful. This entails creating on-the-fly public speaking workshops, technical workshops, and debugging code; all while trying to keep your footing on the aisles of a bus bouncing on the rocky North Carolina highway. Seventy-two hours later, not only do you feel a deep sense of connectedness with your riders, but you’re fully engaged in their hurdles and successes. You palpably see them grow in both friendships and self, and, much like a proud parent, you cheer them on enthusiastically from the sidelines. Our NYC team Matchstick went on the win finals and the whole bus was visibly elated yet cognizant that winning wasn’t the end goal. You might have traction now but it’s all about maintaining the growth you’ve made to truly bring your idea to life. In the end, mentoring the technical, entrepreneurial, and personal growth of my riders has proved to be extraordinarily beautiful and fulfilling, more than could have ever been anticipated.

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