Entrepreneur Zack Price is guest blogging his experience on the 2013 StartupBus as it makes its way from Chicago to SXSW in Austin. On StartupBus a team of strangers, traveling at 60mph, have about 72 hours to conceive, build, and launch a startup. You can catch up with Post #1 in this series here, #2 here, #3 here, #4 here, and #5 here.
I’m sorry I didn’t post about the other semi-finalists until now. I’ve been tied up reading all the other blogs on BPlans.com that I haven’t been able to do anything else. Myself included, over 1,000,000 visitors a month come to the BPlans resource site and Up & Running Blog, making it one of the most visited small business websites around.
Why they gave me the megaphone? I’m still not sure, but now that I have it I’m gonna cradle it and make sure these other incredible entrepreneurs are represented.
San Antonio – we have a problem. Forget about the Alamo for tonight. Team Mexico has done the impossible.
They headed north to South by Southwest. Conductors Chio Paniagua and Jeduan Cornejo had 3 teams represented in the final 12, and all 3 were just fantastico. So bueno in fact, I have to put the rest of the Semi Finals on hold to do a bloggy post solely on this south of the border autobús. I still don’t know how these conductors conducted themselves with such poise.
I mean think about it. No, really, close your eyes. Deep breath. Now think about it.
The Mexico StartupBus is a bus travelling from Mexico City, to Austin, TX, via San Antonio, stuffed to the brim with approximately 40 geeky entrepreneurs (in comparison, the San Francisco bus had only 19 passengers), with over 100 electronic devices (smart phones + tablets/notebooks).
Some of the rapscallions have slices of raspberry-pi rolled up in their short sleeves like they are the 2013 version of James Dean. Consider this here post my application to be a Mexico Conductodoro next season.
This guy named Humberto Ceballos is their “documentarista”, whatever that means. (Midwest bus didn’t get a documentarista … cheaters). Look at Humberto’s profile pic. Don’t mess with this Mex.
So 40 Mexicans fill up a bus to the USA …no, sorry, I’ve heard that joke like 8 times before… Get some new material.
What’s that? A ‘Startup Bus’ you say? Try telling that to the United States Border Patrol, amigo. Good luck with that. They’re crossing the USA/Mexico border “the hard way” (coming in, not going out). I’m sure it wasn’t perfect getting all the way to San Antonio, but hey pimpin’ ain’t easy.
Let’s not forget why we’re here. 3 great start-ups from Mexico. It’s my pleasure to introduce them:
1. Fitchallenge.co – A fun gamified application that helps improve your habits, competing with your friends. Simply put – FitChallenge is the best way to stay in shape. This market is ripe for the taking. I know, because I own a company that offers online personal training services. THE FITNESS INDUSTRY DOES NOT GO OUT OF STYLE.
Unlike tech businesses that are in style one week and out the next, people are always gonna wanna work out. Trust me, I’m telling you, man. I’ve published over 100 fitness books/ebooks over the last decade. I even won the SelfPublishing.com Glengarry Book Sales Platinum award 6 times over on fitness books alone.
USA, Mexico, Australia, South Africa, Southeast Asia … they’re all getting fit. Even in Antartica where they’re fighting Darwinism at its finest and the blubber gene. If FitChallenge can blow up this market, they could be around for a long, long time.
Is that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones? … Nope, it’s The FitChallenge muchachos. They’re the MIB’s. Here come the Mexicans In Black – the ones that you remember. Galaxy defenders.
Somehow, someway, FitChallenge did NOT end up making the StartupBus Rackspace Finals. However, the FitChallenge guys ended up winnng an extra hackathon, the Seven-Eleven one at SXSW. Damn, shows you how stiff this StartupBus competition really is.
2. USupply.me - Connecting suppliers with potential buyers. Talk about a serious age-old economic problem.
When this handsome muchacho Elias stepped on stage, jean jacket vest and all that, I knew the rest of us were in trouble.
He looked Robert Scoble and Nicholas Longo directly in the eyes and said in his smooth Mexican accent:
“Hi, we are USupply me, and we are going to change the way buyers and suppliers are doing business”. Hombre – You had me at “Hi”. I gotta start sporting a beard like that…
This supply/demand thingy is actually a huge problem USupply.me is trying to solve, and the judges took this very, very seriously, as you can tell. Even Scoeblizer himself stared stoicly ahead. Maybe he is a bot afterall.
Wait a minute … how did the Mexico Flickr stream just get photos of USupplyMe from behind the judges … then in front of the judges?
These mex-tech-preneurs are EVERYWHERE at Rackspace. I can’t go 3 steps without high-fiving someone from the Mexico bus!
First watch this 82 second video by USupplyMe. It’s got Beatles references and everything, which is a lot easier than reading me. Why waste my precious time telling you more about them? Afterall … you’ll hear more about USupplyMe later as they advanced to the Rackspace Final 6!
3. Cloud Spotting – a 2 person team composed of David Gómez Urquiza and Luis Lopez Mendez stepped to the stage. Thus far I had been enjoying the solid Mexican business plans from USupplyMe & FitChallenge… but I was not ready for what happened next, and I am sure you aren’t either.
I’ll tell you anyway. I just hope you’re sitting down before I tell you about CloudSpotting…
Lulo & David explain: Clouds are metamorphic, mythological creatures. That’s why they are whatever you want it to be. We believe that Cloudspotting is a great excuse to be creative and erase the fear of a blank canvas. We empower creative minds.
If you don’t understand Espanol, let me translate in plain English:
CloudSpotting is Drawing on Clouds. DRAWING ON CLOUDS. That’s right. Clouds, you know, the white puffy things in the sky?
That’s it. That’s how they’re going to change the world. Drawing on some damn clouds. Seriously, that’s their company.
It sounds so simple, I just have to go. Check it out right now. Come on, do it. So much fun. Did ya do it? They’ve even received donations of $65. F**k it, $65?
Just as I was about to storm the stage demanding a revenue model, Lulo & David grabbed the audience, and judges by the throat and did not let go until they walked off the stage to a standing O…and a potential marketing contract with Rackspace’s Tiffaney Fox Quintana. Forget standing ovation, how about a standing O-M-G.
Look out below at Matt Schaar, Nicole Kusold, Adam Ritenauer, ….Even Shachar Schiff, with his mouth wide open & arms in the air. I hadn’t seen Shak smile since Louisville, and just look at him. (I’m not kidding about Louisville).
I’ve said it before, never have I seen even a professional comedian work the crowd quite like this before. Even when judge Nick Longo jumped out of his seat to take photos & Scobleizer interrupted to “talk about money”, Lulo went right to the slide deck explaining the donations, and how CloudSpotting would be free and their native apps would be monetized. Dinero Can’t Buy Me Love, Lulo.
English ain’t even their native language, and they easily just laid down the best pitch of the night. Shit, the last time I cried real tears was when I thought I was gonna fail Espanol 201 and not graduate college on time. Now here I am crying tears of joy and laughter. DRAWING ON FREAKIN’ CLOUDS.
I half expected them to yell into the mic “Stupid Americans!” as they waltzed off the stage to a standing ovation. Drawing on Clouds! Look at David sticking his tongue out like MJ in the zone. Could they be any more “in control” of this moment?
IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE FINALS PITCH THAT TURNED THE RACKSPACE AUDITORIUM UPSIDE DOWN – CLICK THIS LINK – uploaded and forever immortalized with the description: “The pitch that I’m going to use to pitch at StartupBus Semifinals”. This SlideDeck is going straight to the StartupBus Hall of Fame.
The CloudSpotting guys went all 9 innings just the two of them. Lulo not only threw a no-hitter, THEY COMBINED TO PITCH A PERFECT GAME. It was end to end perfection.
They just sent me the video now – Check it out!
Don’t even need to wait for the judges to vote. CLOUDSPOTTING IS GOING TO THE RACKSPACE FINALS.
Now simply known as “Los Presidentes” (at least to me), Lulo & David walked off the mound just as my keyboard blew up in my eye due to too many accent marks in this post. I’m now “tapping” my ipad3 to finish this bloggy. Accent marks are so annoying to do on an iPad.
CloudSpotting’s bus-mates and fellow semi-finalists, the FitChallenge guys, shouted it out loud and clear from their team tweetdeck:
#GoTeamMexico is right, hermanos. After all was said and done, Team Mexico busted out their national flag, congregated in a huge group, and started singing the Olé song over and over. You know, “Olé! Olé Olé Olé! … Olé! … Olé!”. Not gonna lie, I was singin’ right along with them, word for word. Didn’t even need to google the lyrics. Everybody Dance Now. Everybody danced.
The entire Rackspace Nation was singing the “Olé’” song, loud & clear, waving the Mexican flag while Team Mexico did it in true patriotic style. I guaransheed you Rackspace HQ has NEVER seen a party go down quite like this. Then again, they’ve probably never had 156 bus-preneurs from all over the map in the auditorium past 8pm on a business day before.
I’d love to log-off now, But there’s one more thing… (Steve Jobs voice).
I see this big white guy doing shots of Patron, sippin on Corona, Team Mexico showin him love like he can Bend it Like Beckham or something. Turns out his name is Steven Zwerink, he’s Dutch but living down there and was a bus-preneur / mentor for Team Mexico. He’ll be conducting the Brazil StartupBus. He says “Brasil” but I like using the Z, obviously. Too legit, too legit to quit.
Steven wrote about how being on the StartupBus gave him 10 life lessons. You can also thank Zwerink for just about all the photos in this post. He was also the unnofficial photographer for the Mex squadrant.
This is them & their muchacha (and my teammate) Michelle Dash.
This creative crew from Mexico are invited to my Hibachi dinner table anytime. Americans and Mexicans both like eating Japanese Hibachi food… right? I hope so because I love that stuff, and there’s usually room for 8 per table, which is sweet.
A tribe is any group of people who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea.
The Mexico bus taught me a lot of things tonight … Tribes. We Need You To Lead Us.
I like Team Mexico so much, I made them their own Twitter list. Now I can keep track of all of’em in one simple click. You can too. They leadin, We followin. I warn you though, half the people Twitter recommends me to follow now tweet only in Spanish, which is annoying (yet kinda cool).
So get your head out of the Clouds … keep an eye on every single one of these feisty Mex-tech-preneurs. BIG things in Tech are coming outta Mexico over the next decade.
Tonight makes me wanna drop everything in these frigid Chicago winters, leave 1871 in the rear view, change my name to Julio, and open up an incubator down in Mexico City called 1836 … you Remember the Alamo, right?
FORGET ABOUT IT. It’s ancient history. At least for tonight. Our grandparents weren’t even alive then. They didn’t even have email, or cell phones, or… phones at all. How did they live like that?
Nowadays I can keep up with my compadres with skype calls, g-chat, and a billion other things. It’s getting easier and easier to trade ideas and build companies… fast… digitally… remotely… all online.
Regardless of what year it is, I know what I saw tonight. It’s 2013, and I just witnessed Mexico storming San Antonio, stealing the show … and I’ll always remember that. Olé Olé Olé!
- Chicago (& Honorary Mexican) Startup Guy
Here’s the rest of the Mexico roster:
This is team Chromatix – they missed the cut, but that just gave them more fiesta time
Team Mexico bunkers up, and forms their strategy to storm Rackspace HQ in San Antonio, TX.
Yup, there’s more:
Eoin McMillan (Mentor)
Carlos “Pechi” Tamés Mosiño
Cesar Gutierrez Bartra
Edgar H. Vilchis
Jose Gabriel Islas
José Angel Espinoza