Starting your own business is a dream for many. Having the ability to do what you enjoy every day and having control over your time are just a couple of the perks that can come with being a business owner. Stanford School of Business reported that graduates looking to start their own businesses peaked in 2011, at around 16%. More graduates than ever are tapping into their entrepreneurial spirits, rather than looking for employment with large corporations. One contributing factor is the trend of successful web companies such as Facebook, Yelp, Groupon, Dropbox and Instagram turning their founders into extremely wealthy individuals in a short period of time. Startup costs are also much lower today than in the past. An article published by Forbes shows that startups today can be established for less than $100,000. This figure was closer to $1 million 10 years ago.
For decades, Silicon Valley has been the hub of the technology industry. Located in Northern California, Silicon Valley consists of roughly 40 cities in the South San Francisco Bay Area. The area has attracted top technology players, such as Apple, Oracle, Facebook and Google, which all call Silicon Valley home. For this reason many entrepreneurs in the technology industry strive to move to the area, in the hopes it will jumpstart the success of their startups. A 2010 study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers showed Silicon Valley represented over 30% of all venture capital investing in the United States. Just as aspiring actors/actresses flock to Hollywood, so too do entrepreneurs head to Silicon Valley. They believe the area will provide the best opportunity for the success of their startups.
One of the major issues when it comes to working or owning a business in Silicon Valley is the fact that foreign nationals need valid work visas in order to legally work in the U.S. These are not always easy to obtain and prevent many individuals from moving to Silicon Valley to benefit from the rich network of businesses looking for talented employees. Many well-connected entrepreneurs in the area have identified this obstacle and come up with a creative idea to overcome it. The solution is Blueseed. Blueseed will be a vessel located roughly 12 nautical miles off the coast of San Francisco in international waters. The vessel will provide accommodations and workspace for entrepreneurs launching their startups.
The belief behind Blueseed is that "the world's best entrepreneurs should be able to gather and collaborate in one place, and not be limited by antiquated work visa restrictions." Google, Intel and Yahoo! were all co-founded by immigrant entrepreneurs. The value of these startup ventures includes having created thousands of jobs in the U.S. and developed technology many of us use every day. With strict U.S. work visa laws in place, the U.S. could be missing out on opportunities for the creation of more companies. Blueseed will open doors for all individuals, regardless of their nationalities. As Blueseed will require accepted entrepreneurs to land in the U.S. prior to boarding the vessel, individuals will need to obtain business (B1) or tourist (B2) visas. They may not need to obtain visas at all if they plan on spending less than 90 days aboard Blueseed
The project is expected to launch in late 2013 and over 900 entrepreneurs from more than 50 countries have already expressed interest in staying aboard the Blueseed. Venture capitalists and angel investors want to be close to the firms they have vested interests in. Blueseed will allow investors to provide better support and will also open more opportunities for them to meet individuals within their own network. With the largest number of venture capitalists in the U.S. living in Silicon Valley, it makes sense for Blueseed to position itself in such close proximity to the area.
Currently nothing is confirmed on pricing, but Blueseed plans to charge each entrepreneur a combination of both rent and equity in his or her startup. Estimated costs will range from $1,200 to $3,000. Blueseed will also require residents to deposit sufficient funds to cover transportation costs back to their home countries in case of an emergency. These funds will be held in escrow and returned to the resident when he or she permanently departs from Blueseed.
Is Blueseed Legal?
Laws will still apply to residents and their companies. All must comply with the laws of the country whose flag Blueseed decides to fly on the vessel. This country will be one that has a highly-regarded judicial system that follows English/American common law. Blueseed plans to create a legal on-board guide and also offer advice to startups in constructing their corporate structure to take advantage of Blueseed's distinct legal environment.
How Will This Benefit the American Economy?
Blueseed needs to create jobs to operate the vessel and construct a new supply chain to sustain people living aboard. This will, in turn, create new employment in the area. Entrepreneurs living aboard the vessel will be going to the mainland often, thus buying American goods and services. Once the startups living aboard Blueseed are established, they will most likely move to the mainland and create more jobs.
The Bottom Line
Blueseed will create an extremely unique opportunity. In some ways it is similar to "pirate radio" in the 1960s, when radio stations were broadcasting from ships in international waters in order to avoid legal ramifications. Blueseed has piqued juggernaut venture capitalist Peter Thiel's interest and he has said he will lead the financing search for around $10 to $30 million. The project is definitely creative and, should it be successful, may be the birthplace of the next Apple, Google or Facebook.