Transportation Industry Headed to the Shark Tank to Find Best Entrepreneurial Plan

Bicycles, buses, and cars make their way through the Snowpocalypse during the Transportation Research Board’s annual conference in Washington DC in 2011.

TV shows like Shark Tank in the U.S. and Dragon’s Den in Ireland that highlight the ideas of entrepreneurs are growing in popularity.

With that in mind, Shana Retherford Johnson, AICP-certified Senior Transportation Planner at the Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning, came up with the idea to add a little spice to the upcoming Transportation Research Board (TRB) 92nd Annual Meeting, scheduled for January 13-17, 2013 in Washington D.C.

Johnson, along with Jason Conley of Avego and Stephanie Camay of URS Corporation, are organizing a unique TRB Session (sponsored by TRB’s Young Members Council).

“The Six Minute Pitch: Transportation Innovation and Entrepreneur’s Challenge” will provide transportation innovators with a chance to present their new transportation product or service concepts to experienced industry entrepreneurs for feedback. An honorary ‘winner’ of the challenge will be declared at the close of the session, and the winning business concept will be featured in the Winter 2013 issue of the Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT) Mobility Matters.

Sean O’Sullivan

Lead panelist Sean O’Sullivan, co-founder and managing director of real-time ridesharing technology company Avego, is a regular at the TRB meeting. He also just happens to be a “dragon” on Dragon’s Den. On the Irish show, which airs on BBC Two, O’Sullivan is part of a panel of highly successful entrepreneurs who judge whether or not the myriad of business concepts that are presented to them warrant making an investment.

O’Sullivan’s fellow panelists for the first-ever TRB Transportation Innovation and Entrepreneurs Challenge include Jeffrey Chernick, CEO and co-founder of Ride Amigos; Kate Chanba, co-founder of Carticulate Maps; and Ryan Rzepecki of Social Bicycles.

The Six-Minute Pitch is open for submissions through November 16. At that point, somewhere between four and six proposals will be selected to appear before the panel during the TRB session. Proposals should present concepts for new transportation products or services. “There are lots of things you would think would exist, within the transportation-planning world, but somehow they don’t exist,” Johnson said.

For more guidelines on entries, check out the details at the Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT) website and submit your entry to Shana Retherford Johnson at

And while you’re at it, please register for the 2nd Annual TransportationCamp Washington DC, being held the day before the TRB conference.  Mobility Lab’s co-hosts for the event include the TRB, Open Plans, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and YPT.

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