Ten students, five startup companies, one bus & 2,700 miles. Entrepreneurial students are driving to Austin, Texas to attend the Student Startup Madness competition at South by Southwest Interactive.

Ten students are currently headed to the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. They’re driving there in a school bus that they bought, gutted and reconfigured for an enviable (and memorable!) cross-country trip.

Ryan Casler, Patrick Chouinard, Bernie Eisbrenner, Brian Ingle, David Kircos, Shannon Long, Usman Majeed, Phil Prescher, Russell Schafer, and Adam Schoonmaker are making the 2,700 mile round trip journey. They purchased the bus with the help of sponsors, and then set to work tearing out seats and constructing benches, bunk beds, and a kitchenette. The finished bus is complete with a wooden floor, television and wireless Internet. When they arrive in Austin, they will park the bus in a campground where they will stay during the conference.

The students represent five student-created startup companies: Tech Twurl; Carbon Cash; Brew Export; OneSound; and Evideon Healthcare. Tech Twurl will be pitching their company to a panel of judges in the Entrepreneurial Eight round of the 2015 Student Startup Madness pitch competition on Monday, March 16. This is the third consecutive year that an MSU team has made it to this round in the national competition, which starts with a round of 64 teams that are then narrowed to 32 teams before the final round of eight is announced. Carbon Cash made it to the round of eight in 2014. In 2013 MSU company TempoRun won first place.

Each of these five student companies is a participant in The Hatch, a student business incubator operated in the Spartan Innovations Center. The Hatch is supported by MSU Federal Credit Union, Michigan State University, Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), and the City of East Lansing. The Hatch provides a location to host, accelerate, cultivate and enable student entrepreneurs to grow their ideas through a creative co-working environment. Additional funding support for The Hatch participants comes from The Gerstacker Foundation Entrepreneurial Grant Program and The Forest Akers Foundation. Learn more at www.ideahatch.org.

Follow the MSU Student Startup Bus journey on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MSUStartupBus

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