South by Southwest (SXSW) is a place where dreams are born. Where there are dreamers, there are entrepreneurs. Over 33,200 converged on downtown Austin for the Film, Interactive, and Music events in 2010. 163 Busepreneurs joined the fray as a part of the 2011 Startup Bus tournament. One of them was DC resident, Chris Jeane.
A native of East Texas, Chris moved to DC in June with his wife, a student at Georgetown Law. By day he works at a defense contractor as a software developer specializing in analytics. Not long after arriving in DC he joined the community at NYHacker.org to fuel his coding creativity. Fellow NY Hacker member, John Gottfried encouraged him to apply to be on the bus, but it was still a last minute decision, "I had talked to our [buss's] conductor the week before we left, but I didn't actually decide to go till about 3 days before."
Building on a single bus experiment in 2010, busses from New York City, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Chicago, Miami, and Cleveland departed on March 8th filled with skilled, entrepreneurial minds. Their goal: Produce a valuable web service.
Potential busepreneurs were invited to apply to be on their local bus just a few weeks prior through local, online networks with the opportunity of creating a digital product on the journey to Austin that they would then market at SXSW, arriving just in time for the kickoff of the SXSWi events.
He may have only given the organizers short notice this time, but Chris would certainly do it again, "I would have to be crazy not to after all of the incredible people I've met and as much fun as it was." After a round of pitches from many of the participants as they pulled out of New York City, Chris joined his friend, Jonathan Gottfried's team to give birth to Lemonade Stand.
The product's concept is quite simple as illustrated by their team's video: Make listing items for sale easy by simply building a mobile-focused listing and browsing application. The mobile application adds a geographic tag to the user entered item image, description, and price details. As illustrated in the video- it's simple and convenient:
(warning its a full page video)
The team created the Android and iPhone applications, but they were greeted with an exceptional surprised when they woke up in Austin on Friday: A Window's mobile version of their app. A supporter unknown to any on the project team who had been following their progress on the New York Observer blog took their API and created the Windows version.
The team made it into the Startup Bus semifinals partnering with Austin lemonade producer, Lala's Lemonade to promote the product by giving away lemonade. Unfortunately, they did not make it to the final round for a chance to be named the Startup Bus 2011 champion but Chris has no plans to stop, "We definitely have plans to continue it as a part time project for now. We're going to evaluate it after we put a little more work into it."
The team's vision goes well beyond US boundaries as well, "Most developing countries – everyone has a phone – if we could enable their phone to be the center of commerce then you would have a huge market to tap into."