Sometimes when you lose, you actually win. That was the case with Andrea Young and her teammates who participated in the StartUp Bus entrepreneurial competition. The ultimate goal was to make the finals and win the competition, but Young’s team unfortunately fell short of their goal.
Start A Bus is an annual tech competition billed as "equal parts hackathon, road trip and global community." The competition is designed to empower the tech community by challenging top-tier in a boot camp environment. So far, the competition has ignited 273 startups, 1,238 buspreneurs and 123 the ecosystems connected around the globe.
Young, who attends Stark State College of Technology, and her teammates Bob Sopko, Matthew Young, Ian Schwarber and Bill Myers, came up with the project of Maker Spaces. Maker Spaces is virtual reality – there project is to be used for training.
The team competed against other teams from New York, Florida, Washington and other parts of the country.
"Our vision was to see training to all spaces to the tech community," said Young. "We want this to be used for training before training, side-by-side training. This technology could be used to help girl scouts earn badges. This technology can be used and fun for kids."
So how did the team come with this idea to create virtual training using a cardboard box similar to what Google introduced or what you may find in a cereal box?
"We are at the launch party," said Young, who has four children – Amelia, Elliot, Aliza and Jovie. "We all arrived on Sunday to hear each other’s backgrounds and present an idea. My background is in marketing. I listened to what everyone said. Then someone said Virtual Reality. That was team I wanted to be a part of. We had a great team."
So the team formed and left Akron headed to Boulder, Colo., for the competition. Along the way, the bus stopped in Dayton, where the team was greeted by the mayor. Then the team traveled to Kansas City, at Google Fiber’s Innovation Center, where were able to work on the project.
"What we didn’t realize when we started out," said Young, who is studying to be a coder of websites at Stark State, "is only 10 of 24 people could log onto the internet at one time on the bus. Sometimes it was spotty and sometimes we could use a hot spots."
The team did not qualify for the semifinals not because the project was not worthy to move forward, but there was a little confusion on the rules.
"We did not have a prototype," said Young, who resides Hartville. "We made our pitch, we felt confident, but because we did not have a prototype and other groups did, they wanted to keep everyone on the same level."
However, the team did get to meet the founder of StartUp Bus, and he spent 45 minutes with the team.
"The founder came and spoke with us," said Young. "He loved our idea. He told us his sister is in education and she talks about this type of technology. He told us we should be angry that we did not place. But, he said we should keep pursuing this idea. He said we have a team in place and we should keep the traction going."
"Some of the teams who have competed – like Wastebits in 2011 – have continued their venture," said Young. "Wastebits is now a thriving business in Akron.
Young spoke about life on a bus.
"The bus trip was a little rough," said Young, who spoke by phone from California on Sunday evening. "We were armed with enough snacks. The bathrooms were not the greatest. But then a stench came into the back of the bus. Something with the exhaust was backing up into the bus."
Young said this was the experience of a lifetime. Following the competition, her and a couple of teammates went to California, where they toured the Plug and Play Tech Center, went to the Institute for the Future and attended the 10th anniversary gala with Jeff Hoffman, the founder of Priceline. They also met Alyssa Buschnell, the first Pong tester and daughter of Noel Buschnell, the founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese.
Now that Young and her teammates are back in Ohio, they will continue with their project and try to get their business started in their spare time. You see their project on the website they created at www.realspacecraft.com.