An unusual tech incubator in the United States plans to help entrepreneurs do business in Silicon Valley by offering space on a vessel in international waters.
Blueseed, led by chief executive Max Marty, is launching a visa-free tech start-up incubator on an ocean vessel, located approximately 20 kilometres off the coast of Silicon Valley.
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“That’s outside the jurisdiction of the United States, but close enough to the Valley that you could meet face-to-face with potential investors and clients,” Blueseed says on its website.
“Our facilities will be a short ferry ride away from Silicon Valley… while having convenient access to the San Francisco Bay Area.”
“We will provide a customised environment centered around smart, proven, cost-effective legal best practices, and modern living and work accommodations.”
Blueseed is currently seeking investment for the project and hopes to launch the vessel in 2013.
“We expect most start-ups to be aboard for nine months to two years, after which they will likely either have outgrown our accommodations or gone under,” Marty told humanipo.com.
“The key to this play is to create a Googleplex on the water.”
Ryan Wardell, founder of Sydney-based crowdfunding platform Project PowerUp, is attempting to secure funding for Blueseed.
“Even though Australians don’t face the same visa issues [as other nationalities wanting to visit the US], I think Blueseed has a lot of potential as a stepping stone for Aussie start-ups wanting to move to Silicon Valley or wanting to spend a couple of weeks scoping it out,” Wardell says.
“I don’t see it as being a long-term thing – I’m not sure about that part of their plan. But I definitely see its merits as a short-term, two to four-week landing pad for start-ups wanting to check out the Valley.”
Other start-ups are less enthused by the idea. Geoff McQueen, founder of tech start-up Hiive, says he “wouldn’t go near the cruise ship idea with a barge pole”.
“Spending two to four weeks offshore… is no way to experience Silicon Valley. You might as well drop anchor off the coast of Antarctica,” he says.
“The problem is that on a cruise ship, you’re not going to get any of the chance introductions that make all the difference.”
“On the other hand, you could come to Silicon Valley with a 90-day window under the Visa Waiver Program, effectively no questions asked.”
McQueen advises start-ups to do their research before they arrive, including working out which conferences to attend and making contact with people beforehand.