It sounds like a cross between TV's Coach Trip and The Apprentice -- throw a group of strangers on a bus and watch them come up with a business idea in just a few days. FounderBus, which is hitting the UK after success abroad, is hoping to do just that -- and it's hoping to beat off international competition in the process.
From November 29 to December 5, a coachload of 25 young entrepreneurs will begin a journey they hope will end with them pitching a business idea on the stage of Paris' famous LeWeb conference.
It's an idea that, according to organizers, has been success in Germany and America, both under the name of FounderBus and StartupBus, and it's something team leader Matthias Meier, a student at Oxford University, thinks will catch on.
Meier and his team are in the process of finalizing the pool of 25 successful applicants who will take their place on the coach that will head to Paris via workshops in Oxford and Cambridge Universities, London's Business School and Google Campus.
"This is a really cool project," he says. "It's almost a start-up for us, as well as the contestants. We've received some amazing applications already and can't wait to get started!"
As on The Apprentice, the team will be working with some of the top names in the industry. Debates between team members, each bringing their own ideas, should also be expected.
Workshops, which are nearly finalized, already include Entrepreneur First, Seedrs, Flat-Club as well as several well-known individual expert speakers, providing advice on everything from creating the idea, branding and selling it to investors. Partners in the project include Oxford Entrepreneurs, LSE SU Entrepreneurs, Central Working, Ivy City, F6S and Enternships.
One event, on November 30, will be a panel discussion on "The Future of British Entrepreneurship", with well-known investors, politicians, entrepreneurs and other experts, taking place at Google Campus. Whether the advice can rub off on the contestants in just a few days remains to be seen.
When the FounderBus UK bus eventually arrives in Paris, it will compete against five other buses in an international 'buspreneur' competition, where they'll be judged on their idea. The winning team receives the daunting but cherished prize of pitching their idea on the stage at LeWeb conference's competition for start-ups, in front of the world's leading investors, journalists and designers.
In 2011, the LeWeb Startup Competition received 600 applications, had 32 semi-finalists, 16 finalists and four winners. The winner of the buspreneur competition will be fast-tracked into the finalists group and pitch on stage -- the chance of a lifetime.
With the economy surely not far away from a recovery, the government has a bus of its own to try and speed things up -- Startup Britain's bus, which is touring the UK helping to inspire a generation of entrepreneurs.
FounderBus is slightly different. Those taking part are already enthralled by ideas, technology, business and balance sheets. To beat off other applicants just to get on the bus, they've already proven they've got talent and competitive spirit. Yet that's just one small step in the perilous world of business. If they make it to Les Docks on December 4 having defeated the rest of Europe, then they'll be one giant leap closer to succeeding in the entrepreneurial environment.