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Midwest StartupBus nears its destination, could use your help

The three-day route for the Midwest StartupBus, which departed from Kansas City on Sunday.

About 20 entrepreneurial strangers are in the midst of a three-day bus trek that quickly makes everyone friends.

The group pulled out of Kansas City early Sunday morning as one of seven buses from different regions participating in StartupBus North America, a competition focused on quickly building companies—think Startup Weekend on wheels—from just an idea to pitching interested investors in San Antonio by trip’s end. Five teams/companies were formed on the bus and throughout the process they’ve been validating, researching, pivoting and pitching to each other.

Melissa Roberts, Partnership for Technology Innovation executive director and 1 Million Cups KC community organizer, told Silicon Prairie News it’s the first time the bus has departed from Kansas City and has brought people from the region and former residents together. 

“We all want to do well, but we also realize we’re stronger together,” she said of the level of collaboration despite being competitors. “It’s important to get a KC company to win it all.

“It’s really interesting. Virtual strangers are put together and suddenly working side by side. We want to create ideas that can bring investment, so we’re constantly refining with the help of other teams.”

The five companies cover a wide range of ideas (using their descriptions):

  • Academe.io: A two-day workshop that prepares students for careers in STEM fields. 
  • The Angry Corner: Organizing the world’s emotions, starting with anger and making them more accessible and useful. 
  • Beauty Engine: Changing the way people discover and buy beauty products through artificial intelligence. 
  • CropRate Wellness: A corporate wellness program that cuts the crop, treating the root causes of employee health and happiness by providing on-campus farmers’ markets.
  • Startup Games: The Startup Games builds strong communities through a series of competitive events.

Roberts said the companies can use everyone’s help in the form of feedback—Twitter handles linked above—and by making an “investment” for a company or several companies on the StartupBus website. All that’s required is a quick log-in to Facebook, where you’ll get points to distribute to the companies you want to support.

She said anything anyone can help with, including customer acquisition, between now and Wednesday will go a long way. All of the buses will converge on San Antonio for pitches, with the potential for real investment dollars, then head to Austin for South by Southwest.

Credits: Route screenshot from StartupBus website.

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