Current Events Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay’s REAL tech stars will be on StartupBus Florida

We’ve heard enough about hucksters who’ve opened Tampa Bay offices, such as the one-click wonder whose office didn’t even last a year:

Photo of Fast’s Domm Holland, with his face blurred out.
Creative Commons photo by Web Summit. Tap to see the source.

…and the other well-funded one who just declared Chapter 11…

Photo of Celsius’ Alex Mashinsky with his face blurred out, and his t-short edited to read “Grifters are not your friends.”
Creative Commons photo by Web Summit. Tap to see the source.

…but the real Tampa Bay tech stars won’t be sitting in comfortable offices or mouthing empty platitudes on a fancy stage. They’ll be working on their business idea for three days on a bus.


Photo of StartupBus 2012 featuring Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and other local dignitaries holding a banner.
StartupBus 2012. Photo via Creative Loafing / Arielle Stevenson.

StartupBus is an annual hackathon that takes place on a bus. Its participants — called buspreneurs — hop on a bus, form teams, and try to come up with a startup and the software that supports it as the bus makes a three-day trip to the destination city, where they will pitch their startups to a panel of judges.

The riders of the combined 2019 D.C. and Florida StartupBus posing on a grassy lawn.
The riders on the combined Florida and D.C. StartupBus buses in 2019. Photo by Nick Price.

StartupBus started in 2010, and there’s been a bus from the Tampa Bay area since 2011. Tampa Bay StartupBus alumni have gone on to found companies, build great careers, and generally have an impact on the local tech scene. While some are content to pull marketing stunts and lap up the local media attention, “The Other Bay Area’s” true tech heroes and crafting code, building businesses, and fostering community.

I was on the before, and I’ll be on the bus again

Photo: The members of Team Hyve (StartupBus Florida 2019) — David Castañeda, Joey deVilla, Rina Bane, and Justin Linn — posing seriously in front of the bus.
Team Hyve from StartupBus Florida 2019: Tracy Ingram, David Castañeda, Yours Truly, Rina Bane, Justin Linn. Photo via 88degrees / Tracy Ingram.

I was a buspreneur in 2019, and my teammates — Rina Bane, David Castañeda, Tracy Ingram, and Justin Linn — made it to the finals, where we got the runner-up position.

This year, after the 2020 / 2021 COVID-19 hiatus, the bus is back, and this time, I’m a coach — or as we say on StartupBus, a conductor — and along with my fellow conductors Mandy Minor and Evan Thacker, I plan to help this year’s buspreneurs build their startups and hopefully make it to the finals.

Want to get on the bus?

Photo: Selfie of Joey deVilla with the interior of the StartupBus Florida bus in the background.
Me on the bus on Day 1, July 2019. Photo by Joey deVilla.

The bus departs Tampa on Wednesday, July 27th and arrives in the destination city, Austin, on Friday, July 29th. Then we’ll be in Austin for 2 days: the semi-finals on Saturday, July 30th and the finals on Sunday, July 31st. I’m flying back home on Monday, August 1st.

It’s not too late to register! We need more people on the bus — especially programmers. If you can build even a basic web, mobile, or desktop application, we need you on the Florida bus. But if your skills are in other areas: product management or design, marketing, user interface / experience, and so on, we need you too!

Want to register? Do it on the StartupBus site’s Apply page. You’ll need an invite code, and I have one for you: JOEY22.

Want to sponsor StartupBus Florida?

If you have a company and want it to get the kind of press attention that questionable one-click shopping and shady crypto bros have been getting, you should sponsor StartupBus! StartupBus gets national attention, and as a sponsor, we’ll make sure to sing your praises and let the world know that your company truly cares about making “The Other Bay Area” a great place for techies — the economic engines of the future — to live, work, and play.

Drop me a line if you’d like to talk sponsorship.