Day 1 of my experience on The Internet Freedom Bus Tour was amazing. Day 2 started with an early departure from Iowa City. The gang was up most of the night playing Werewolf (a party game similar to Mafia where someone is the werewolf and you have to figure out who it is… before they eat you!) It was a very long bus ride to Kansas City which actually took up most of the day.
Life on the bus is interesting. I now have some serious appreciation for bands that go on the road. I also understand how they can say “HELLO KANSAS CITY” when they’re actually in Iowa City. The scenery of driving through the Midwest is amazing, but between the internet (ironically) continually cutting out, old reruns of MacGuyver, and just general travel exhaustion… it was pretty hard to get any work done.
I spent a lot of time talking with my busmates. I really enjoyed talking with Betsy from The Internet Association and listening to some of the embedded reporters talk about some of the crazy stories they’ve been pitched on.
After a 7 or 8 hour bus ride, we finally arrived in Kansas City at The Kauffman Foundation. For those who aren’t familiar with Kauffman, they’re a foundation dedicated to studying and researching entrepreneurship (full disclosure: Startup Weekend, where I work, is partially funded by Kauffman). They do some awesome stuff, and when we got there they had a small reception at Kauffman Labs.
This is a place where they let startup teams come and work. There’s a lot of perks to working out of the Labs, but the catch is it’s sort of a science experiment. You see, they have video cameras and microphones set up all over the place. They are trying to study what happens in early stage startups through direct observation. Definitely an interesting experiment!
They were throwing a big dinner that night for us, and Alexis was moderating a panel of four other entrepreneurs. The CEOs of AgLocal and Local Motors, two of our partners and busmates on the tour, were on the panel.
There was an awesome discussion, ranging from advice to new entrepreneurs (“Get some sleep!” was one of the top suggestions) to how awesome the internet is and how it’s changed everything.
I think one of the best quotes of the night was from Alexis. He was talking about how hard entrepreneurship is, but then qualified that with “There are much much much worse things than being an entrepreneur.
Other great quotes from the night:
“We are products of our access [to the internet.]”
“When this country got started it was one big entrepreneurial adventure, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.”
After the amazing dinner provided by Kauffman (they gave us ribs and BBQ from the three best Ribs places in town… then told us to decide which one was best!) and the great panel, we headed out to a mixer at a bar called Sno and Co, where they serve boozie smoothies.
We had a fascinating discussion on minority founders and how, in one founder’s eyes, the startup community is color-blind.
It was a great evening, but we stayed out waaay too late. We had to get up at 5am the next morning for a very special breakfast….
Read the next chapter: Day 3: Farms and St Louis