StartupBus Chicago, this is your Conductor…

By: Ravi Singh (2013 Chicago Conductor)

Chicago has been given an incredible opportunity this year with StartupBus adding a Midwest team to the competition. Chicago is synonymous with hard-core work values and manufacturing the incredible. If to the world we are just a manufacturing center, then let’s step up and manufacture this opportunity. We aren’t competing with either of the coasts; we are competing against the world. Let’s manufacture the epicenter of a revolution of profitable and successful tech businesses that are recognized everywhere as the best. To get to that destination we all need to support our Midwest team’s bus.

It is in every business’ best interest to make sure we have a successful first run of the bus. 

We don’t need to prove that we have the DNA to build incredible businesses – we already have the proof of that. Look at a few of the amazing things that have been built here in Chicago over the past few years with a small, but dedicated crew of developers, designers, and entrepreneurs.

  • The Obama For America team set a new standard for large-scale software development – they made a historic impact.
  • People worldwide come to Chicago to change their lives with classes from Starter League with a starting team of less than 4 people.
  • MNML set the stage for design with their award winning Kickstarter products and received the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Product Design.
  • Think about the small, focused crew that built and run 1871.

These should all serve as examples of the great things we can build in our city. What all these companies show is that a small-dedicated crew of believers can manufacture worldwide success.

StartupBus is about building new and exciting businesses in a tight time frame. I guarantee that once you have coded, designed, and planned a whole business on a bus driving from Chicago to Austin for SxSW that you will look at every other project after that experience as doable.

In my life there are clear markers for things that have changed the path I was on, and all are Chicago based events. SocialDevCamp introduced me to Harper Reed who taught me about business and friendship in a different and better way. OrdCamp taught me that there are incredible developers in this city in all sorts of fields making beautiful innovations every day. Startupbus gave me similar experiences by introducing me to team members that have become family members and showed me what we all can do when pushed.

Last year there was no StartupBus from Chicago. Therefore, the bus I chose to work on was the one I envisioned would have the best and smartest developers and entrepreneurs – and that was the MIT Boston bus. But who would have thought that when I got to Boston and met the team on the bus, all the hardcore talent was from yes, Chicago!

If you love what you do, I know you will love pushing yourself developing in the dead of the night surrounded by the beauty of the country whizzing past you at 60mph. Every other development project after this event will seem doable and simple in comparison. Every time this past year I was scared about the duration and success of a project, it would hit me: “I developed 3 mobile app’s working 12hrs a day on a bus. How hard can this be?” It will be the prism you judge every other project after this through.

I leave you with this: don’t hesitate to apply. You have a chance to change the course of how Chicago is perceived worldwide. The insanity of working in those close quarters and the fun of sleeping in a different city every night and walking and talking about the product solidly for days before presenting in front of a huge crowd at SxSW, is worth the effort. And, the since this is our first Chicago bus, you have the chance to create a structure that is unlike other busses. Literally, you will get to write the rules you want for the bus. For all the “Office” or Star Trek fans, Kobayashi Maru it and make this bus a legend.

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