The Upstart: Mike Bott

Thirty-year-old Mike Bott, general manager of The Brandery, wore two hats at this year’s SXSW Interactive, both as a representative of The Brandery and as a StartUp Bus entrepreneur. On the bus, he developed a new product, Simply Done.

“Simply Done was the result of an intense four-day bus trip," he says. "The Cincinnati Startup Bus included stops in Columbus, Youngstown, Nashville, Baton Rouge, and San Antonio, en route to SXSW in Austin, Texas. We set out to build a product that would help reduce the stress and uncertainty that goes into doing something for the first time. By providing a time-line driven platform, with expert advice, we hope to help people navigate things like planning a wedding, having a child, starting a business or even planning a funeral.”
Describe your SXSW experience in five adjectives.
Intense, Stimulating, Enjoyable, Exhausting, Eye-opening

What was the weirdest/most unexpected thing that happened?
The weirdest part was probably our bus driver getting lost going from Baton Rouge to San Antonio. Even though there were upwards of 100 internet connected devices on the Startup Bus, a closed highway and a garmin set to "shortest distance" took us through parts of Cajun country we would have never seen! Apparently, he had "thrown away all his paper maps a couple weeks ago." Definitely a surprising three-hour detour, but eye-opening to see the residual effects of the hurricanes.
What was your very best moment?
There were lots of great moments. It was awesome to see the Cincy and DC buses pitch at The Brandery. Meeting a new group of "bus-preneurs" at each stop was exciting. Hearing advice and pitch feedback from heavy hitters like Guy Kawasaki and Dave McClure was pretty cool. I think we all enjoyed the "rockstar" welcome by the Rackspace employees when we arrived at their enormous office space in San Antonio.

What's your big takeaway to bring to Cincinnati?
Cincinnati is not a second-tier city when it comes to startup potential. Our ideas, products and pitches were among the best, and the enthusiasm of the group was contagious. We just need to shed a little of the midwest risk-aversion and make our ideas a reality. Hopefully, The Brandery can help aspiring entrepreneurs make that jump.  

What are your plans for next year?
Good question. I'm not sure if I'll take Startup Bus down next year, but I'd encourage anyone to give it a shot. Startup Bus afforded me the opportunity to get to know some supremely talented people I wouldn't have otherwise met. There's nothing like an intense few days of building and pitching to validate a business idea. I hope we see a 2013 version of Cincy Startup Bus.
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