TAMPA BAY, Fla - Imagine this scenario:
You are in a strange city.
All you have are personal items, maybe a suitcase full of clothes and your beloved laptop and smartphone.
You are staying in a rental home.
Robbers break-in and take all your gear while you explore the city.
This was the dilemma facing a group of 11 Florida based entrepreneurs working with Tampa-based Startupbus . A handful of those techies were USF St. Pete students.
The entrepreneurs packed on to a bus and were tasked with creating a fundable business startup within 72 hours. All of it part of a competition.
It's when they arrived in Austin, Texas, for the SXSW tech convention and unpacked that their problems began.
"Found the house had just been ransacked," recalled Mitch Neff, StartupBus director. "I mean drawers emptied. Stuff laying everywhere."
Their South Austin rental house targeted by robbers.
"It took all of 30 seconds for people to start frantically searching for their gear to find pretty much everybody's laptop was gone," Neff explained.
The robbers made off with $30,000 worth of gear including laptops, tablets, smartphones and other electronics.
"They lost multiple novels worth of code, this was years of work," said Will Mitchell, a Startupbus organizer.
More than 115,000 unused lines of code are now in a criminal's hands.
"There were people that their whole livelihood were in there, so those are the people that really lost big in this," Mitchell explained.
The group called Austin Police and filed a report.
Then, they took to Twitter, ultimately turning their troubles into a tech triumph.