True to its reputation, SXSW was epic. It’s the largest web design & development conference in the world. As we enter the US market, it’s an ideal event for us to get the word out about Xero.
But it’s hard to cut through the noise at SXSW. Hundreds of companies are promoting their wares. As a way to get people’s attention, most companies throw a big party, blowing stacks of money on booze – money which is literally flushed down the toilet.
We wanted to do something meaningful, build something with long-term value.
That’s why we sponsored the Startup Bus, helping 170 entrepreneurs form into 38 teams and build incredible software products, in just a few days.
These weren’t completely frivolous products, either. Some were, but many of the products addressed real business needs with extremely impressive solutions. And now it’s looking like several teams will continue on, officially forming companies around the products they built.
If you didn’t catch the announcement of winners, there were two, because the judges were deadlocked:
- TripMedi – a site that helps people find qualified medical practitioners overseas and share their experiences, serving the growing market known as medical tourism.
- Walk In – instantly add yourself to the queue at a restaurant (or anywhere with a waiting list, like a doctor’s office), then wander off, always knowing exactly where you stand in the queue. They built a working product on iPhone, Android, HTML, plus the admin interface for iPad!!!
Other finalists also did great work and are in discussions to continue development of their products:
- Lemonade Stand – a mobile app to help you instantly sell products online
- Fly By Miles – a service to help people manage all their frequent flier miles and easily know where they can go with their miles
- Bouncr – gives you an anonymous email address, so you can safely manage any email addresses you make public
That’s an astonishing outcome for a few days work. Great things happened, products actually shipped, and because of that millions of people in the US and around the world were exposed to the Startup Bus people, projects and to Xero, thanks to coverage in CNET, Wired, CNN, Inc, Mashable, etc etc, plus all the tweets and retweets, not to mention all the influential people attending SXSW.
There’s some consensus that Startup Bus was the best thing about SXSW this year. We’re extremely proud we helped make it happen.