Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blueseed

Images of Concept Vessels from Blueseed website
At Worktech 2012, a “seasteader” from China introduced Blueseed, and I was so curious that I invited the project founder to speak at the SideMark Principals’ Forum.

Charting new routes through government regulation and piloting a novel concept of community, Blueseed reflects the startup brilliance of co-founders Max Marty and Dario Mutabdzija. Bold and creative as the entrepreneurs they hope to attract, and representing Bosnian and Cuban parentage, Max and Dario previously collaborated at the Seasteading Institute where they delved deeply into the murky waters of maritime law, legal "overseas" employment restrictions and complex long-term sovereignty questions governing communities at sea. Blueseed offers one tsunami of innovative support for technology startups, which may account for its current waiting list of 1138 entrepreneurs from 355 startups in 67 countries.

The evolutionary Blueseed project will locate an ocean liner in international waters, just 12 nautical miles off the coast of Half Moon Bay, California, to serve as a floating technology incubator. This unique environment was chosen to allow technology entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world to start up or grow their companies near the heart of Silicon Valley, eliminating the need for full work visas. According to their web site, “As a foreign national, to legally earn a paycheck in the United States, you need a valid U.S. work visa. To live and earn a paycheck aboard the Blueseed vessel, you will only need a passport.”

Some Blueseeders might spend all their time aboard negating the need for US entry, while most will have the appropriate visas to spend up to 180 days per year in the US. “Blueseed welcomes all talented individuals and companies, regardless of nationality, who could contribute positively to our culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and fruitful collaboration.” In an interesting twist, 25% of the 1138 wait-listed entrepreneurs are American. So what’s the real draw?

Once required capital is raised, Blueseed will convert a leased ocean liner into a co-working and co-living spacefor up to 1000 startup founders at a time, with high-speed Internet access and daily tferries to the mainland for meetings or social engagements. Staffed with legal, marketing, and full business resources, the crew of Blueseed will have a different makeup than those wacky folks on the Loveboat. With plans to welcome the first cohort of entrepreneurs in Q2 2014, details of community planning and management are well underway. Max and Dario have considered everything from security, medical, exercise, game rooms, and a broad menu of food services, along with a resident artist program to ratchet up the creative quotient. I’m impressed with the innovative audacity.

Silicon Valley combines a culture that considers startup entrepreneurs to be cool with an “ecosystem of professionals” critical for the success of a startup With the largest number of US patent filings and by far the greatest share of VC investments taking place in the San Francisco Bay Area, Blueseed’s success metrics will be monitored closely by Blueseed, government here and abroad, and a wide contingent of business interests.

When asked whether the Blueseed model could work on land, Marty answered, “There are a few small land-based incubator communities in existence today, but our innovative proposition combining the resources required to support a technology start up in one truly unique location—accompanied by the opportunity to work in daily proximity to an international gathering of colleagues selected for concepts filled with original and disruptive technology, and mostly devoid of distractions offered by easy mobility—well, that would be hard to replicate on land.”

I know boundaries are often drawn arbitrarily for political and economic reasons, and Blueseed's founders suggest boundaries become porous for innovation.

VC investment data: https://www.pwcmoneytree.com/MTPublic/ns/nav.jsp?page=region
Patent filing data: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1008366 


-CCB

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About the Author:
Carolyn Clark Beedle, Architectural Products Specialist, is our Corporate Creative. She is constantly exploring, researching, and conquering. Carolyn has held numerous leadership roles within the industry as well as a number of non-profit organizations. In addition to her knowledge of the workplace, Carolyn holds both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from the University of San Diego. Not to mention, she truly is the perfect dinner guest. To contact CCB, email her at carolyn_clarkbeedle@Sidemark.com

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