Application Process

Am I a good fit for the bus?

If you are open to new ideas, a self starter, a team player and an adventurous spirit with a can-do attitude and an aspiration to build great products that help millions of people through technology, you are probably a great fit for the bus. Additionally, your skillset should cover both strategic (long term planning) and tactical (get sh*t done) aspects of your domain.

What kind of skills should I have?

We look for an equal proportion of developers (e.g. front end, back end, data science), designers (e.g. product, UX, visual design) and hustlers (e.g. sales, finance, marketing, research) on the bus.  If you don’t have all the hard skills, no worries, learn them in the next few weeks. That’s what entrepreneurs do.

How do I apply?

Go to https://northamerica.startupbus.com/apply.html to apply for a seat on the bus. In order to fill the application form, you will need to find an Invite Code.

Does it cost anything to ride the StartupBus?

Yes. Your bus ticket is $399 and you will be responsible to pay for hotels and some meals during the trip.  We work with hotels to get cheaper rates and stuff as many riders as can comfortably fit into the rooms to reduce cost.  You will also be responsible for your return travel from New Orleans.  We recommend you stick around for a few days after the competition to network with all the awesome riders from all over America.

Is there any age minimum requirement?

All riders must be at least 18 years old.

What is the refund policy?

We can not offer refunds for rider fees.

The Journey

Where do the buses go?

All of the buses leave their departure cities on July 31st and head toward New Orleans (the New Orleans bus is a special case, that one leaves from New Orleans and then heads back to New Orleans).  We’ll be stopping along the way to get some awesome mentorship from the leaders of the entrepreneurship communities of the cities we drive through.  In keeping with the unpredictable nature of road trips, we’re not going to tell you which cities they are!

How do I form teams?

Once we all load up on the bus the riders take turns in front of the bus pitching themselves and an idea (be ready to take notes).  Once everyone’s gotten a turn it’s your job to find the people that you’ll need to make your idea successful or to choose to work on someone else’s idea.

We will ensure that every team is balanced with the right amount of hustlers, designers and developers, and also make sure that nobody is hacking on the bus on their own.

How do I prepare?

  • Warm up. For example, if you have not set up a React app for a while, don’t wait until the bus. Refresh your memory now.
  • Learn the fast way. There are lots of shortcuts and boilerplates that can help you set up a project quickly. Get them ready.
  • Research. If you have an idea in mind, do some product research and get more understanding on the subject. Also, there’s nothing more embarrassing than pitching an idea that had already been done.
  • Practice your personal pitch. Make a strong impression with your 90 seconds.
  • Download all the required software ahead of time. Spotty bus wifi + GBs of download is not a good idea.
  • Set the alarm and sleep. Our bus departs early.

What happens on the bus?

Once the teams are formed StartupBus has a series of challenges for each day of the road trip.  These challenges are designed to help your team work as effectively as possible and are generally things you should be doing when you’re starting a business somewhere more conventional like a garage.

Then it’s a 3 day road trip to New Orleans (or in the case of the New Orleans bus out and back). We stop at some awesome incubators, accelerators, and coworking spaces for mentorship and to get a little time off of the bus.  This is when you’ll be building your prototype, marketing and business strategies, and practicing your pitch.

What happens at the semi-finals and finals?

On August 3rd we kick off a massive pitch competition in New Orleans where all teams will get the chance to pitch in front of our judging panel.  Then on August 4th lucky few that make it through to the finals round will pitch again at the StartupBus finals where the competition gets even more intense, the judges get more prestigious, and the whole thing is live streamed to thousands of viewers.

What are the rules of StartupBus?

Rule #1: There is no #2 on the bus.

Rule #2: See Rule #1.

Rule #3: Follow the Golden Rule: Treat your fellow Buspreneurs with respect.

Competition Entries

Who owns the intellectual property?

During the first day of the competition, each team will dedicate time to creating a founders agreement and deciding on an equity structure.

What are the prizes?

We believe that monetary prizes distract teams away from the purpose of the hackathon - to build entrepreneurial skills of our riders and to form meaningful and lasting teams - thus there are strictly no monetary prizes on StartupBus.

Winning StartupBus gives your team international bragging rights and exposure.  Occasionally we will work with sponsors to provide awards, however these prizes are not awarded for taking first place in the pitch competition.

(It also effectively repels all the greedy bounty hackers, who only goes to hackathons for the prizes and are detrimental to any founding team’s structure.)

Food & Accommodations

What is the food situation?

Depending on the bus route, we may make stops by tech hubs, highway plazas or restaurants for purchasing lunch and dinner. Breakfast is usually available at the hotels we stay in.

Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions or food allergy concerns.

How should we book our hotels?

We will take care of the hotel situation for you. Our bus will arrive at our designated hotel, and you simply need to book and pay for your room upon arrival.

Are there snacks and water on the bus?

Yes, snacks, energy bars, fresh fruits, soda and water are complimentary on the bus.


What should I bring?

Pack your bags like you would for a vacation. But of course, bring these:

  • Identity documents (e.g. Driver’s License)
  • Your laptop
  • Power cord
  • Download all the things you need beforehand.
  • Phone
  • Personal Wifi Hotspot (recommended)
  • Phone charger
  • Water bottle. Hydrate!
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Chewing gum. Bad breath kills your pitch!

What should I NOT bring?

These items are definitely not allowed on the bus:

  • Alcohol.
  • Drugs and illegal substances - Check the law of the states we will drive by.
  • Anything you would not bring on an airplane.

How much can I bring?

Each person can bring one luggage and one backpack on board. You probably should pack for what your return flight allows.

Is there wifi on the bus?

All buses will be equipped with wifi.  The wifi will be spotty at times but that just makes the experience more challenging (no one said StartupBus was easy right?).

Is there power on the bus?

Yes, all buses have a reasonable amount of power plugs.

Are there toilets on the bus?

Most buses will be equipped with toilets. We’re on a tight schedule but if you really need it let your conductor know and they can probably fit in a stop at a rest station in there too!


What if I get car sick?

Your conductors will be prepared with a survival kit including dramamine (motion sickness medicine) and water.  This isn’t our first rodeo so we know a few methods to help folks who are feeling queasy.  If you are feeling motion sick let your conductor know and they’ll help out!  If you’re really nervous about getting car sick maybe look into picking up a Sea-Band Wristband.

What is the Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policies?

All attendees, sponsors, partners, volunteers and staff at our hackathon are required to agree with the following code of conduct. Organisers will enforce this code throughout the event. We expect cooperation from all participants to ensure a safe environment for everybody.

Our hackathon is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, previous hackathon attendance or computing experience (or lack of any of the aforementioned).

We do not tolerate harassment of hackathon participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate at any hackathon venue, including hacks, talks, workshops, parties, social media and other online media. Hackathon participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the hackathon without a refund (if applicable) at the discretion of the hackathon organisers.

Read more about our Code of Conduct here.

What is the Photography Policy?

Photography is encouraged, but other participants must be given a reasonable chance to opt out from being photographed. If they object to the taking of their photograph, comply with their request. It is inappropriate to take photographs in contexts where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy (in bathrooms or where participants are sleeping).

Photos taken by StartupBus may be used at any time for future marketing purposes. You can review the media release agreement.

About StartupBus

StartupBus believes entrepreneurship can't be taught but it can be learned through unique experiences.

Want to partner with us?

Email: directors@startupbus.com