07/18/2012 02:23 pm ET | Updated Sep 17, 2012

StartupBus: 72 Hours From Stranger to Startup on the Road to SXSWi

Watch a team of aspiring tech industry moguls build a mobile app on a bus on a cross-country roadtrip destined for one of the biggest conferences in the technology industry.

The StartupBus competition is an annual rite of passage for the technology industry. Strangers in 11 different cities board buses bound for the SXSWi conference. Buspreurs have 72 hours to pitch, build, and launch startup businesses. Venture capital veterans crown the winner after a pitchathon at SXSW.

Photo by Michael Tapp

StartupBus is the fruit of a wild idea from founder Elias Bizannes. The founder of StartupBus came up with the idea at a San Francisco bar with colleagues also headed to SXSW. The idea caught fire on the Web and multiple high-profile tech blogs published posts about the idea. Almost overnight Bizannes had people from around the country asking to board his StartupBus. Fast-forward three years later and buses from 11 different cities are packed full of eager tech nerds, who don't even know each other, are moving towards SXSW at 75 miles per hour.

Why would someone board this crazy bus? StartupBus is like a 48-hour film festival for the tech industry, on wheels. Buspeneurs crank it out within arguably the worst working conditions: hashing it out with strangers, absurd deadlines, cramped quarters, and shoddy Wi-Fi. Participants experience the life-span of working at a startup compressed into three blurry days.

StartupBus isn't just a hackathon on a Greyhound bus. It's also a self-starter alumni organization that's isn't only about who you know. It's built on ambition, ingenuity, and rest-stop hot dogs. StartupBus might not yield the next Instagram, but it just might build the ecosystem for it.