We catch up with Max Marty, founder of Blueseed — an ocean-based startup community.
Whilst we’re always quick to share any great new ideas we come across it can be easy to forget that without the right nurturing environment, any fledgling startup can flounder before it’s had a chance to find its feet. Which is why initiatives like Blueseed can prove to be a lifesaver for young businesses, giving entrepreneurs a secure base from which to develop their ideas.
Blueseed is set to be a fleet of boats, just 12 miles off the coast of California’s Silicon Valley, that offer office space to new businesses. Founder Max Marty came up with the idea for a startup boat because of the restrictive immigration laws in America, which can leave entrepreneurs who have travelled to America from other countries, forced to return to their home country. Max is the son of two Cuban immigrants and so he has been aware of this issue from a young age. He received his undergraduate degree in Global Political Economy & Philosophy from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, and his MBA from the University of Miami. Prior to founding Blueseed he was Director of Business Strategy at the Peter Thiel funded Seasteading Institute, whose mission it is to found autonomous and stable ocean communities. Max took this vision and applied it to the world of entrepreneurs, thereby aiming to create a unique water-based community of bright young minds. We caught up with Max to find out how the planning stages for Blueseed are taking shape.
1. Where did the idea for Blueseed come from?
Blueseed was devised as a radical but practical way to address a big existing problem, the lack of an entrepreneurial visa. I first noticed this problem when I was in graduate school at the University of Miami. Lots of students there wanted to become entrepreneurs by starting companies, but they knew they wouldn’t get that chance. Instead they had to go to work for existing large corporations who would sponsor their H1B visa, or leave the country. I thought this was a rather ridiculous and destructive situation, so I committed myself to finding a solution. Blueseed was that solution.
2. Can you describe a typical working day?
If you mean a typical working day of the entrepreneurs aboard, it could go something like this: Wake up, go have breakfast at the paleo cafe, where you meet some people who just arrived working on an awesome startup of their own and exchange some ideas. Then you head out to the gym for some exercise before heading back to your cabin, showering, and then heading over to your startup’s coworking space. There you have a meeting with your co-founder, chat with some nearby colleagues at a different startup, then get into work-mode and concentrate for a few hours. During the lunch break you head to the cafeteria where you meet with old friends working on a separate but related startup, and meet with a new artist that happened to be sitting at the same table that day. And so it would go.
3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on Blueseed?
Long walks on the beach. 😉 The community will contain pools, bars, lounges, sports activities, gyms, theatres, masseuse, etc. Getting together with friends and doing any of these things, or even heading into Silicon Valley to go to parties in San Francisco.
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
There are many opinions on this subject. In my experience, there isn’t one secret ingredient for everyone, but if I had to boil it down to the most important ingredient it would be your relationships. Whether it’s connecting with other entrepreneurs and exchanging ideas, finding new people to work with, or finding investors, connecting with like-minded helpful hard working intelligent people is key. Enabling an environment that fosters that is one of our key goals at Blueseed.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
People who aren’t particularly reflective. Such as those who lump immigration into one big issue, rather than seeing it as a collection of distinct problems faced by distinct groups (entrepreneurs being one such group).
6. What motivates you to keep going?
Sheer tenacious desire to see this solution succeed and this problem addressed. I know this business model can succeed, I know it can result in great innovation and better lives for a lot of people, so I (and I know I speak for my team as well on this) will make it happen one way or another.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
We would spend less time speaking with the Silicon Valley venture capital community, and more time speaking with non-institutional investors to finance the project. It’s not possible for most of the venture capital community to finance ventures which aren’t the usual mobile/social/local/software startup. There’s no reason to blame the VCs, they point their sails to where they see the wind is coming from. But that does mean that truly innovative outside-the-box ideas won’t often get financed by that crowd.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years, I expect we’ll be expanding beyond Silicon Valley and opening similar communities in the Mediterranean and perhaps in east Asia. Once we demonstrate that this first community is “making waves” in the startup world and producing the companies that will push innovation forward in big ways, it would be a crime not to replicate the model in other parts of the world.
9. If you weren’t working on Blueseed, what would you be doing?
I would be pursuing other radical but practical ways to create big win-win scenarios in other spaces that need to innovate. I have a personal list of different entrepreneurial venture ideas that could change the world for the better, and I would be working on one of those. For example, education seems to be ready for a big radical change. There are lots of great ideas that haven’t been tried in that space yet, although a lot of smart people are certainly working to innovate in that arena, so it may be less valuable to go there to try and make a difference. Telecommunications also seems to be ready for some big change, along with augmented reality, and even clothing. I have some great ideas for each of these industries, but Blueseed is where my heart lies right now.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
There’s been a lot of demand from entrepreneurs who want information on how to secure a spot aboard. So far we’ve been tackling other issues, but let’s just say we’ll be redirecting our efforts towards the best of those entrepreneurs that have come to us wanting to be aboard, with their stories and their startups, fairly soon. Stay tuned for more.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
The core of entrepreneurship is spotting where innovation is needed and executing on an idea for how to make things better. It’s easy to find things that need improving and come up with a creative way to do it, as our world is full of peculiar sub-optimal products, services, situations, social dynamics, etc. Once you think you know of a good way to innovate, find a good co-founder to share your burden and dive into it – but don’t let yourself get mired into the established way of thinking in that particular subject. And if you want to be on Blueseed, then show us how you’ll either solve big real-world problems or show us how you’ll help others on the ship solve big real-world problems.
4th July 2012