Note: Cemre Güngör is a member of the class 2011 hackNY Fellows. hackNY continues to accept applications for this year’s program from both students and startups on a rolling basis. All applicants will be notified in late April.
In the early morning of Tuesday, March 8th, Cemre Güngör climbed onto a bus in lower Manhattan with about 30 other startup enthusiasts. Their mission was to form teams and build companies in the three-day road trip to the SXSWi conference in Austin, Texas via StartupBus, an organized competition for buspreneurs departing from six different cities.
Although the New York City bus stopped at hotels in Atlanta and Baton Rouge, Cemre slept only five hours during the entire trip, determined to keep working on TripMedi, an aggregator of reliable information about medical tourism. His team’s dedication paid off when were selected as a joint winner of the national competition.
Cemre applied to participate in January and received notification of his acceptance the next month. The bus contained a mix of designers like Cemre, developers and business/community mangers. As the bus passed through New Jersey, passengers had 60 seconds each to say hello and pitch their skills. Another round of pitches introduced ideas, after which teams began to form. Cemre liked the TripMedi idea and joined what became the seven-person team.
“We did all we could do on the bus,” Cemre said. “Most of the work to launch is making contact with hospitals around the world, and gathering data, about their practice and success rates. We couldn’t possibly have done all that on the bus, but we did all we could to launch the project.” The team did find accurate data for one hospital in India online, enough to show as an example of what TripMedi would do.
Cemre got some footage of the buspreneurs hard at work:
The New York bus arrived in Austin the evening of March 10th and team TripMedi continued building out their product. The team learned they had qualified for semi-finals, and later for finals, continuing to work while non-qualifying teams partook in conference panels and parties.
Cemre said he was glad he participated.
“Had I not taken part in StartupBus, I would’ve been able to see the talks but would’ve had no friends,” he said. “Because of the bus, I have a network of 150 really cool, talented people, though I had to work the whole time.”
The TripMedi team worked up until the last minute, preparing to present their slide deck, which Cemre designed.
The judging panel asked difficult questions of the team, making it clear that disrupting the health industry would require a great deal of persistence and determination. Two of the judges, Dave McClure and Stephen Anderson, complimented Cemre’s pitch deck. TripMedi shared the first place title with WalkIn from the Silicon Valley bus.
After finals, Cemre found he needed 10-12 hours of sleep per night. “While it was happening, I didn’t feel it that much because I was so excited about the work I was doing,” he said, “but now I’m sleepy all the time.”
This was Cemre’s first hackathon, and he said time management was his biggest challenge. He’d spent the first couple of days planning and exploring, getting most of the real design work done the last day of the bus ride. “Designers are sometimes perfectionists and want to make sure they have the right idea, visual style and layout, but there’s not really a whole lot of time,” he said.
Three of the seven founders will continue building TripMedi full-time. Cemre decided not to, since he wants to finish his degree at NYU-Poly, though he will contribute as an advisor.
Congrats to Cemre and TripMedi! The startup he will be matched with for this year’s hackNY Summer Fellowship Program is sure to benefit from his impressive skills.