SXSW Startup Bus unveils entrepreneurial winners

A team led by an Australian lawyer has been named as a joint winner of the Startup Bus competition, which saw 38 teams devise start-ups on their way to the SXSW festival in Texas this week.


Rolland Dillon’s team came up with TripMedi, a website that acts as an independent source of information on medical tourism.


TripMedi was named joint winner alongside WalkIn, an app that allows diners to ‘check in’ to restaurant queues to avoid waiting at the venue for a table.


Elias Bizannes, founder of the Startup Bus, told StartupSmart: “The teams won because they had a good product, strong presentation, and convincing market opportunity. They both were impressive because they addressed real problems and had a strong solution solving them.


“WalkIn hit a problem we’ve all experienced which is waiting in line for something like at a restaurant.”


“TripMedi is pushing progress in the growing multi-billion dollar ‘medical tourism’ industry, where people go overseas for procedures due to comparative treatment in their home country being not available or too expensive to do so. It really is a game-changer of an idea if executed right.”


The Startup Bus, now in its second year, featured 150 tech enthusiasts grouped randomly into 38 teams. The teams were placed onto six buses, departing from Silicon Valley, San Francisco, New York, Cleveland, Miami and Chicago, headed for the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas.


In a 48-hour period, the teams each had to devise a start-up and create a website for it, all while on the road. The start-ups were presented to a six-strong judging panel, comprised of entrepreneurs and investors, with the aim of turning the winners into actual businesses.


The Startup Bus competition was designed to coincide with the SXSW festival, which showcases innovations in the tech, business, film and music industries. This year, more than 600 people applied to take the 150 places on the buses.


The idea for the competition was devised by Bizannes, an Australian entrepreneur who works at Silicon Valley start-up Bizannes also founded Silicon Beach, a leading Sydney-based network for tech start-ups.


“I thought a road trip would be good excuse to get Aussies to get to know each other and build rapport, and then we could all descend to SXSW and connect with smart Americans in the industry, further building the local industry,” he explains.


“It’s easy to be a perfectionist, but adopting that attitude can kill a start-up business, as you need to prioritise your time with what will have the most impact in the short-term.”


“Learning how to focus on what matters is a key reason why I chose a bus and not another transport mechanism. The goal was to put a set of constraints on people so they can think about the things that mattered and focus their time on the work that has the highest impact.”


Bizannes, who says that he may expand the Startup Bus idea to Australia, cites group messaging as the most popular area of innovation on display at this year’s SXSW, which concludes on Sunday.


Meanwhile, Perth-based web developers Red Tiki were named as finalists in the business category of the SXSW Interactive Awards.


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