The first 13 hours of the SXSW StartupBus competition

Today several new startups were born. I went along just to see what it was like to start a company and see what goes on.

There are 10 busses coming from across the country, headed toward SXSW right now. Over the weekend you'll hear a lot more. +The Next Web 's +Hermione Way is doing a video show about the effort, more on that tomorrow (I should be on her show tomorrow night, after I am on CNN and the Gillmor Gang talking about the Apple announcement).

What's the company I was involved in starting? It's called "Gourmair."

Well, did you know that you can get extraordinary food shipped to your house from places like the Salt Lick near Austin? This Quora answer details a bunch of the different places you can get meals: http://www.quora.com/What-food-can-be-shipped-overnight-to-your-house

But there isn't a centralized place to discover, discuss, rate, or buy these kinds of gourmet meals. That's what the team of Stanford Students are building right now as they are hunkered down in a hotel in Palm Springs for the evening. They have two more days to build a working website, not to mention build the rest of the stuff a business needs (logo, business model, sign up the first customers, etc).

Now that I'm off the bus (I'm flying today to San Antonio) I'll keep track of the team, and others and we'll talk more later in the week about how they did and let you try out what they built.

What did I learn?

1. This is a LOT like American Idol's group week where teams of singers are forced to join up in a group and pick a song. It is similarly frustrating. Entrepreneurs would stand up at the front of the bus and "pitch" their ideas to the bus and see if anyone else got excited by them.

2. Having a huge time pressure on you is a great forcing function to get you to make decisions. In a normal business it would take weeks to come up with a name. Here you had to spend less than an hour thinking about that because, well, you just don't have more time to give it.

3. There's lots of tools to help you get a business off the ground quickly. The startups were using Elance.com to help hire out engineering help. Balsamiq for doing wireframes. LaunchRock to build a landing page so you could sign up your first customers (some of the companies already had orders from their first customers, mere hours after starting their companies). Rackspace gave the startups cloud computing servers.

4. There is a major side benefit from being on a StartupBus: you build a cross-company network very quickly. There were employees from tons of real-life startups, not to mention bigger companies like Google on the bus, and really smart kids from Stanford. Good way to get to know people and join in a network.

Anyway, I'm tired, off to bed. I'm glad I don't need to stay up all night coding like my team members (on Friday they will give their first pitches to VIP judges, and on Sunday a final set of a handful or two of the companies will pitch to an audience and judges to see who came up with the best company idea in 72 hours. The first 12 are already done, will be interesting to watch the rest.

See you in San Antonio later today. Austin on Friday morning as I interview famous software "alchemist" +Alan Cooper on the SxSW stage (very excited to do that, since many of the startups were using software design principles that Alan pioneered).

You can follow the Startup Bus competition at http://startupbus.com/americas/
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