You’re an Indian businesswoman, with a brilliant idea for a high-tech startup. All you need is a year in Silicon Valley – time to network, sell the concept, raise capital and start the project.
The problem is U.S. immigration officials would let you visit, but won’t let you stay.
Blueseed, a floating city, operating outside the jurisdiction of American immigration authorities – and offering daily ferry boat or helicopter ride to Silicon Valley – could be the answer.
Blueseed that could house 1,000 entrepreneurs will be anchored 12 miles off the coast of the San Francisco peninsula — aka Silicon Valley — sometime in the second half of 2013. The company calls its floating campus the “Googleplex of the sea.”
The city’s residents would simply need a B-1 business visa. Relatively easy to acquire, they would permit travel to the U.S. and would be valid for up to 10 years, and allow overnight stays. The ship would provide the destination for what the visa does not allow – actually doing business on American soil.
This is the brainchild of two immigrants to the United States, Max Marty from Cuba and Dario Mutabdzija from the former Yugoslavia.
“Unfortunately, foreigner entrepreneurs have a hard time getting visas to stay legally,” explains Blueseed’s president, Mr. Mutabdzija, a 32-year-old lawyer who emigrated to the U.S. with his family from Serbia in the 1990s. “A standard three-month work permit does not give you enough time to raise money, network, find talent or do anything significant.”
Although skeptics consider the project impractical and the estimated cost of startup is at least $25-million, Blueseed’s basic plan to convert a cruise ship into a complex that will incubate high-tech innovation has attracted interest and money.
Blueseed already has one of the biggest investors on board. Billionaire libertarian Peter Thiel – co-founder of PayPal – has injected some $500,000 in seed money. It’s one of more than a dozen investments he’s made in innovative startups, some of which (Facebook, Yelp, Zynga, LinkedIn) have become game-changers.
Blueseed has released a report on its website, which shows 133 international startups willing and eager to get on board. Besides US, there’s also a lot of interest from India, Australia, Canada, Europe and practically every other area of the world.
The city will have host of facilities like: high-speed wifi across the ship, 24-hour cafes, a full-service gym, concierge, medical services and (strangely enough for a libertarian venture) a post office.
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.
The only thing he's worried about is that the ship will attract the same demographic that the valley seems to attract: about 80 percent male.
"I'd like to see how we could buck the Silicon Valley trend and encourage more women entrepreneurs on board," Marty said.
Marty has also 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.
Check out the pictures below for renderings of various designs the company is considering.Location
Blueseed Connects with the Ferries
The Two Towers