It’s easy to be dismissive about something like Startup Bus, where teams of hackers build and launch their projects over the course of the bus ride to South by Southwest. There’s only so much you can do, of course, in such a short period of time, thrown together with strangers and with limited resources. Add to it, in this case, you’re then thrown, if you will, into the din and the buzz of SXSW where it’s next to impossible to get your startup seen or heard.
But the group that came together to form Lemonade Stand have lived to tell the tale. After five days building their product as their bus made their way from New York to Austin, the group has a working prototype, an app in the Android Store, an API with outside developers, and interest from potential investors. That’s a fairly big win.
Lemonade Stand is a “neighborly commerce platform,” says developer and team member Jonathan Gottfried. “Think: Craigslist meets Instagram.” Lemonade Stand aims to make buying and selling local goods easy, with a simple mobile interface for listing goods and a location-based search.
Gottfried pitched the idea to those on the Startup Bus, and as the travelers divided themselves up to work on the various projects, Lemonade Stand ended up with a strong team, including John Britton, Nick Greenfield, Chris Jeane, David Kay, Christopher Kennedy, and Derina Man. Arguably, the size of the team helped make some of the work easier and gave Gottfried an opportunity to work the PR angle, including arranging for a lemonade giveaway in Austin (in exchange for sign-ups) that was featured as part of CNN’s coverage of SXSW.
Of course, the Startup Bus wasn’t just a hack-filled ride to SXSWi; it was a competition, culminating tomorrow night in a final pitch event at the SXSW Accelerator Party. Lemonade Stand didn’t make the finals from the NYC bus, and the team hasn’t decided what their plans are next. But Gottfried says he remains proud of what Lemonade Stand accomplished over such a short duration.
While some people might be skeptical of something like the Startup Bus, which forces such rapid development and deployment of a product, there’s a lot to be said about an exercise that encourages such focus and planning. Working with the (artificially) short deadline of a weekend hackathon has been known to turn out some great products such as the popular group messaging app GroupMe, which got its start at Techcrunch Disrupt, for example.