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Wefunder Blog

What happens when you take Amtrak cross-country with your startup.

on Apr 26 2016
Founder & CEO @ Wefunder

Crazy, stressful, and totally worth it.

Wefunder took Amtrak across the country to find and fund small businesses with great stories. We visited 12 cities in 2 weeks—and made it back without killing each other. Somehow.

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To avoid team member homicide, here’s what you need to know before you hop on board.

1. You’ll get chummy fast.

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If you weren’t cozying up to your co-workers before you boarded the train, be assured it’s only a matter of hours until you do.

Our first leg was a 20 hour ride from the Bay Area north to Portland. And nearly every single minute of those 20 hours was spent with one team member or another. We ate breakfast together, watched scenery together, read together, got mad at wi-fi together, and even bunked together.

2. You won’t be productive.

Before the trip, you’ll have elaborate plans on how much work you’re going to get done during down-time. You’re overestimating yourself.

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Whether its the gorgeous scenery, the non-existent internet connection, or the lazy cloud shrouding the entire train, your schedule will find a way to derail. So learn to let go, permit yourself the downtime, and melt into sweet conversation and sweeter landscapes.

Then pounce on your laptop the moment someone shouts:

“I’ve got connection!”

3. The food will grow on you.

Amtrak food is expensive and kinda funky. Let that sink in. Accept it. Thus is the world. You’ll get over it.

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Train food is like plane food, a large part of the satisfaction comes from the fact that you’ve somehow procured sustenance while on a moving vessel weighing several tons. Enjoy your steak and potatoes, your veggie lasagna, and continental breakfast–they’ll keep you over ’til you hit the next town.

4. You’ll always be just a little sleepy.

For all our overnight legs, we booked rooms in the sleeping car which features a tiny ol’ bunkbed. It’s actually surprisingly comfy, but no matter how many hours you spend laying down, you’ll never feel quite well-rested.

It’s a mixture of noisy nights (choo-choo!) and drowsiness from perpetual motion. Chances are most of your team will be running at 75% or less. Give them the space and much needed five minutes to pass out on a random piece of furniture.

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5. You will go places you never planned on, meeting people you never expected.

On our trip, we visited urban hubs such as Chicago, New York, and Boston, but also smaller out-of-the way towns like Fargo and Whitefish—which we wouldn’t have considered visiting unless they were right on the rails.

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But our visits to Fargo and Whitefish proved to be worth every minute. We met bootstrapping entrepreneurs and furry friends who gave us some of the most memorable moments of the trip.

See you on the rails!

Bottomline: we’d recommend any team to tackle the (rail)road-trip. You’ll come back with more stories than you know what to do with.

❤ Wefunder