The Basics

What is a “Buspreneur”?

Bus + Entrepreneur = Buspreneur!

You will ride the StartupBus to become one.

Who is a “Conductor”?

A conductor is the lead organizer and mentor on a bus. They had previously rode the bus before, and the understand what your team needs at each stage.

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/influencers (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 startupbus.com/apply to apply for a seat on the bus. In order to fill the application form, you will need to find an Invite Code.

How do I get invited on the bus?

Applications are by invitation-only. To be invited, you can reach out to former Buspreneurs or @TheStartupBus and convince them that you’re the right kind of awesome and adventurous. You can also connect on the StartupBus website and make a lot of noise so that we notice and invite you.

If you’re reaching us through Twitter, be sure to put @TheStartupBus at the end instead of the beginning of the tweet. We want to see that you’re committed and have the guts to announce why you want to go the Bus to the public.

When do I need to apply by?

As soon as humanly possible- candidates are chosen on a rolling basis so you should submit your application if you want to secure a spot on the bus.

Does it cost anything to ride the StartupBus?

Yes. Your bus ticket is $399 and it includes a lot of good stuff:

  • Your one-way trip on the bus from your origin city to the destination city (in the case of North America 2019, that would be New Orleans),
  • The mentorship from our alumni and local experts and the visits to local tech communities along the way,
  • Your access to the competition and the final rounds, as well as
  • Your membership to our exclusive alumni network.

Please note that meals, hotel accomodations, the return flight, and your motion sickness medications are not included. Some buses may be equipped with light refreshments and snacks depending on sponsorship.

Depending on the bus you are applying, the price of the bus ticket may be different.

Is there any age minimum requirement?

All riders must be at least 18 years old.

What is the refund policy?

We cannot offer refunds for the bus ticket.

The Journey

Where do the buses go?

Each competition has a different destination, check the Buses section for more details.  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 the final destination. 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 the last two days of the journey we kick off a massive pitch competition at the final destination where all teams will get the chance to pitch in front of our judging panel.  Then on the last day the 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 Code of Conduct and the Golden Rule: Treat your fellow Buspreneurs with respect.

The Competition

What makes an eligible competition entry?

While there are no rules to riding the StartupBus, there are certain criteria that needs to be met for your team to be chosen as an eligible competition entry:

  • Your team on the bus must have at least 2 humans, and no more than 5.
  • Only working products are allowed for the presentation during the first Qualification Round. No slide decks or PowerPoints are allowed for that round.
  • Your startup must be created from scratch on Day 1 on the bus, i.e. all codes must be new except boilerplate libraries, all design assets must be new except font, common UI, or icon libraries, and all social media accounts must be brand new.
  • You cannot build a startup based on a previous hackathon or competition entry, or an existing startup of your own.
  • Your entry must not be plagiarized work of others.
  • All entries must be submitted by the submission date and time to be announced during the competition. Late submissions will not be allowed to compete. You are allowed to change and update your product after your submission, but you won’t be able to edit your submission entry.

We will have the right at our sole discretion to determine whether an entrant is eligible for the competition and may disqualify at our sole discretion.

Who owns the intellectual property?

Our goal with StartupBus is to develop people, so how teams decide on company equity and intellectual property is part of the learning process. For this reason, we don’t take an ownership stake and let the teams decide on their own. During the first 3 days of the competition, each team shall 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 competition - to build entrepreneurial skills of our participants and to form meaningful and lasting teams - thus there are strictly no monetary prizes on the 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 winning the competition.

(It also effectively repels all the greedy bounty hackers, who goes to hackathons only 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 you to purchase 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?

In short: StartupBus arranges the hotels for each night; you pay for your room when you arrive.

We will arrange with designated hotels ahead of time for each night of the journey, to make sure there are enough rooms for everyone. During the trip, when our bus arrive at the designated hotels at night, you will be guided to the hotel concierge to pay for your room.

How are the rooms shared amongst Buspreneurs?

You are free to share or not share a room with other riders, at your own cost. You can negotiate and decide amongst your fellow bus-mates.

However, we strictly do not allow co-ed rooms throughout the trip.

Are there snacks and water on the bus?

Yes, snacks, energy bars, fresh fruits, soda and water, if provided by our sponsors, are complimentary on the bus.

Do we stop along the way?

Yes, the bus can only drive a maximum of 10 hours per day by law. Therefore, it will stop by lodging by the end of every night. You won’t sleep on the bus at night.

The Destination

What happens once the bus hits New Orleans?

The bus may stop moving in New Orleans but the Buspreneurs don’t. Upon reaching the final destination, the StartupBus teams hit the ground running - launching and promoting their products, pitching to VCs, connecting with other Buspreneurs and of course, enjoying all the parties the city has to offer.

How long can I stay in New Orleans?

As long as you like. We recommend you stick around for a day after the competition to network with all the awesome riders from all over America, as well as visiting all the cultural institutions and tech communities.


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 large luggage and one backpack on board. You probably should pack for what your return flight allows. We had people bringing 3D printers or Wacom Cintiq on the bus before. You are responsible for all your valuables and belongings.

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 to do a #2, 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.


I’m a journalist and I want to write/blog/film the journey. Who do I contact?

We’re always looking for a few good journalists - pitch your idea to our team and convince them that you should be on a bus.

How can I get in touch with the leadership of StartupBus?

You can reach the StartupBus leadership by tweeting @TheStartupBus or emailing our team.

About StartupBus.

StartupBus is a tech entrepreneurship boot camp and global championship on wheels.

We disrupt the status quo by fostering the next generation of leaders in tech and bridging the tech gap across worlds.

Wanna partner with us?

Email us at directors@startupbus.com.