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Business Observer Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2013 9 years ago

StartUp Bus: The ups and downs of building a small business

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After five days of competing in two startup competitions — pitch and interactive — as part of the StartupBus experience, Storedrobe didn't fare too badly. We might not have made it to the Pitch semifinals, but we ranked fifth in the interactive competition, scoring close to 1,800 points!
by: Lindsey Nickel-de Staff Writer

After five days of competing in two startup competitions — pitch and interactive — as part of the StartupBus experience, Storedrobe didn't fare too badly. We might not have made it to the Pitch semifinals, but we ranked fifth in the interactive competition, scoring close to 1,800 points!

Ultimately, Storedrobe is an awesome idea, but needs to be Google Glass enabled for the technology to work effectively for mass retailers. With Google Glass about six months away from being publicly available, the judges felt like our company wasn't as easily launched as many others presented.

And what about the other ideas presented? The pitches created on the StartupBus can be easily broken down into three groups.

The first group is businesses focused on tech trends. Apps like GhostPost.io (allows the user to create anonymous chat rooms at events), Cloud Spotting (drawing on photos of clouds), Drunk Spotting (drawing on photos of drunk people) and more were developed en route to Austin.

There were business service apps including Wrong Credit Score (a lawyer referral app), Next Chapter (an e-book publishing app) and Exversion (a business-to-business collaboration network).

Finally, many of the startups were ones focused on serving a certain market segment of consumers, including the StartupBus challenge winner CareerMob, an app that connects veterans with job opportunities, mentors and skills training.

After I finally got more than three hours of sleep I could reflect with more clarity. It seemed the trends on the bus were a snapshot of the national trends in business. Only one group of the 35 who presented built a product — Brief Skate. It's a pretty amazing skateboard that can store a Macbook Air, iPhone and pretty much anything you need for work. Its innovative properties made me want to take up skate boarding just to have a rationale to buy one at briefskate.com.

The remaining ideas were broken up into what's the next Twitter, or what will bring in a quick ROI and profit. Few finalists were apps that served the consumer in a way to improve their life. Not to sound like a hypocrite, but Instagram doesn't really improve my life, but I could not live without it!

In the end, was it worth working 16- to 20-hour days, sleeping in a haunted hostel, couch surfing at the Hilton, and never knowing what was really happening the following day? Absolutely! I learned so much about building a business, selling an idea, running both an onsite and satellite team, and how to keep working without sleep. Most importantly, the StartupBus was like taking a master class in what motivates different people. What drives them about a project and how to keep 20-plus people isolated in close quarters without self-destructing. The last problem seemed to be solved with alcohol and Frank Ocean, but without a doubt, after the fun wears off, people's personalities begin to fray.

My biggest takeaway from the StartupBus was the importance of listening — listening to my team, listening to my consumer, listening to feedback from my fellow buspreneurs. The best way to ensure the success of your company was to listen and adapt. That is exactly what I am bringing home to Nickel Communications, more listening and more adapting.

Lindsey Nickel -de la O was also on the bus with Sarasota graphic designer Miguel Elasmare, who worked on a travel startup company and was a great friend. Miguel and Lindsey look forward to working together on projects in the future.

Bio:
Lindsey Nickel-de la O is the Creative Director and Partner at Nickel Communications. She wakes up every day saying “Today will be Awesome!” Her mission and passion is to work across all communication disciplines - advertising, creative, media, digital, public relations and more - to ensure that her client's brand interacts and engages its audience in a strategic, fun and organic way.  Lindsey made her way on the StartupBus with pure determination and a lot of help from the Economic Development Investment Fund and the Business Observer. 

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