A tour bus full of founders, business people, and programmers all sat silent in Downtown Manhattan at 8:00am, mentally preparing for two days of pitching, networking and making connections that could launch their early stage startups to success. SendGrid, Twilio and Microsoft recently partnered to bring eleven startups from New York City to Montreal for the International Startup Festival. We rented a bus and drove six hours through upstate New York and into Canada.
The night before all the startups had gathered at 10gen Headquarters for a Q&A with Brian Watson of Union Square Ventures (USV). The founders seized the opportunity, asking questions about funding and business strategy and heard about USV’s investment thesis.
Back on the the DOer Express, the startups were hard at work, despite the long ride. Everyone was connected to the internet, working in a mobile office driving up I–87 at 65mph. Riders pitched their startups to a panel of SendGrid and Twilio employees, who then gave the startups tips on ways to sharpen their pitching skills. The startups found this invaluable, as they pitched constantly over the two day Startup Festival.
Here are the 11 startups riding the DOer Express:
- Freak’n Genius
- See Sharp Guys
- Call Ecko
- OI TURISTA
- Simply Grid
Upon ariving in Canada, startups had a chance to plan, decompress, and even sing karaoke. However, once Startup Fest began, the founders began hussling. Meeting venture capitalists, pitching to anyone and everyone, including a panel of grandmothers. On the line was $70,000 in funding, a windfall for these early stage startups.
Two of the eleven startups on the DOer express reached the final round of the competition to recieve the funding. Although neither won, both had their first experiences selling VCs on their startups.
All the startups left the event with great experiences. “I had an amazing time on the DOer bus and so many doors were opened based on my time there,” Joshua Pierce, cofounder of The See Sharp Guys, said. It was a sentiment shared by many.
This was the second annual DOer Express. Look out for it next year and hop aboard.