Photo: Boonsri Dickinson, Business Insider
The idea of getting entrepreneurs to live on a ship to avoid visa problems seems pretty ridiculous — nothing more than a dream. But getting a promise to invest from Peter Thiel — the early Facebook backer and major valley VC — is a great start.
Max Marty is the thinker behind Blueseed, which has a radical plan to build a boat that could house 1,000 entrepreneurs 12 miles off the California coast.
We thought the idea seemed pretty crazy, but after hearing Marty think through his own plan, it seemed technically possible.
It would basically be a cruise ship with a bunch of international entrepreneurs, working in a co-working space that is designed like the Googleplex and includes high-speed wireless Internet access. The point is to get around visa issues that cause problems for international entrepreneurs.
There will be free space, so VCs can come spend some nights aboard. And events will be held there, bringing a little bit of Silicon Valley to the sea. When the startup guys want to come into the city to party, a 30-minute ferry will get them to shore.
Marty said it’s the right time for this: people are excited about startups because of the economic climate, and the technology to make this radical idea possible is relatively new.
“A lot of what we are doing, the technology already exists. We are putting it together in one place. The cruise industry has made life at sea comfortable. The cellular carriers have figured out how to transmit data over the air. Technology incubators have figured out how to make spaces that are really compelling for startups,” Marty said.
He also thinks that great ideas will spring from living in close quarters at sea.
“A lot of ideas were founded in dorms. For whatever reason, living in a close proximity to others results in cool startup ideas. I think a lot of that will be replicated on-board with people living and working on the ship,” Marty said, pointing to Google and Facebook as examples.
As soon as any the startup gets bigger than 5 to 10 people, they will probably get kicked off so they can scale properly on-shore.
The only thing he’s worried about is that the ship will attract the same demographic that the valley seems to attract: about 80 per cent male.
“I’d like to see how we could buck the Silicon Valley trend and encourage more women entrepreneurs on board,” Marty said.
So far, it’s been all talk. Over the next year, Marty will have to work out contracts. He’s been talking to solar and wind companies to see how green they can make the ship, and he’s still trying to decide on if he should rent a used cruiseship or a barge.
In the next few months, Blueseed will close a seed round. Would you invest in a mini-Silicon Valley in the middle of the ocean?