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Aussie team develops social media technology on Startup Bus

Friday, 9 March 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

Three Australian tech entrepreneurs have developed a new platform to help social network users preserve their digital lives, all whilst travelling on the Startup Bus from Las Vegas to Texas.


The Startup Bus, which is designed to coincide with the South by Southwest festival, is the brainchild of Australian entrepreneur Elias Bizannes.


Participants board a bus and devise a start-up whilst making their way to SXSW, held in Texas. Last year, Australian start-up TripMedi was named the winner of the Startup Bus competition.


This year, Australian entrepreneurs Bart Jellema, Scott Cowley and Ivan Vanderbyl are all taking part in the competition, forming a team as they hurtle towards Texas.


Between them, Vanderbyl, Cowley and Jellema have worked for several tech start-ups including cloud provider OrionVM. Jellema sold his coupon site, Tjoos.com, to Internet Brands in 2010.


In less than three days, they have developed a new technology, dubbed Year In Print, to help social network users preserve their digital lives.


This morning, they pitched their invention to a panel of investors and tech industry luminaries.


According to the team, it’s “virtually impossible” to keep up with the ever-increasing volume of content on social media sites, namely Facebook and Twitter.


Year In Print is designed to preserve users’ “digital memories” in the event that Facebook and/or Twitter cease to exist.


“These memories are disappearing – people put all this stuff on MySpace and it doesn’t exist anymore. It’s nice to still have those memories five or 10 years down the track,” Jellema says.


With Year In Print, users can create fully customisable “life books” of their year in social media.


Photos, status updates, wall posts and other content are automatically collated once users log in with their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account.


Users can remove any photos that they don’t want appearing in their book.


According to Vanderbyl, who coded the frontend of the product using Ruby on Rails and the backend in Python, the books are an ideal gift for weddings, birthdays and other occasions.


The Year In Print team is one of 60 teams competing in the Startup Bus competition. There are 11 buses carting 300 entrepreneurs from various US cities to SXSW.


The three-day bus journey will be followed by several elimination rounds and the grand final, which will be held on Sunday, March 11.


“These guys won’t get any sleep…but boy will they put out some killer start-ups at the end,” Las Vegas bus conductor Jeff Kinsey said in a statement.