I received an email from my mom today titled “haven’t heard from you…” This message was followed up by a mild threat that if I didn’t start sending our family updates I’d pay the price =). But more so than anything, this email served as a reminder for me. When I initially set out on Unreasonable at Sea, I had the goal of writing two blog posts a week. Unfortunately, with the chaos, excitement, and accelerated nature of the program to date, I haven’t been able to make the time to reflect. But with this proper nudge from my mom, I’d now like to start sharing my (and our community’s) refections throughout this voyage.
For the last 4 weeks, I have been sailing across the Pacific with a small group of creative misfits and iconoclastic entrepreneurs. Our voyage to date has taken us just shy of 10,000 nautical miles and into 4 countries. We have hosted multiple national events that brought together the startup ecosystems of such cities as Tokyo, Kyoto, Shanghai and Hong Kong. In Hawaii the Governor even created a new holiday for us (January 15 is now officially “Unreasonable Day”).
In many ways, I feel like I’m dreaming with my eyes open. I’ve never been part of something that is of the scale we are reaching for with Unreasonable at Sea. Before we even set sail, I wasn’t convinced this was even possible. And now, as I write this post, I sit at a small cafe in the streets of Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, where in just a few days, we will host gatherings that bring together the innovators, investors, and entrepreneurs of this startup Community.
What has impressed me the most about this voyage to date though has been the community. I keep finding myself returning to the same reality. Yes, business is business… but more so than anything I am convinced business is people. And the community that is trapped together on this ship is truly beautiful.
The tech-startups who have joined us on this radical experiment are doing things I didn’t even think were possible with technologies I didn’t know, nor would have believed, exist. Amongst the teams is the world’s most efficient solar concentrator, one the most efficient charcoal burning stove on earth (designed for women in emerging markets), the world’s largest offline search (over 120,000,000 users on the platform), the world’s first nanotechnology company dedicated to transforming carbon emissions into a material worth more than gold… etc. One of the ventures has created autonomous oceanic robotic drones that clean up oil spills while another is already providing clean drinking water to over 300,000 people in 5 countries. What binds these 11 tech startups together is a shared desire to make their dent on history by tackling this century’s toughest challenges head on. These are not your typical silicon valley entrepreneurs. These companies represent the black swans of our time. They are leveraging technology to solve seemingly intractable social and environmental challenges and in my mind, many of them are chasing billion dollar market opportunities.
This community represents an unlikely mix of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, university students, and executives from some of the largest multinationals on earth. Why are we all on this voyage together? We are all hell bent on gaining the empathy, connections, insight, and capital needed to scale into new global markets.
What will come of this radical experiment is clearly unwritten. So, I’m going to do my damnedest to start writing about it as we go =). I’ll be posting two posts each week. One will be a reflection on a country we have visited and on the insights gained from immersing ourselves in a foreign startup community and the second post will be on a specific skill learned along the way.
In an effort to catchup on past posts, I’ll likely be writing a number of additional blog posts in the weeks to come that reflect on our experiences in Hawaii, Japan, and China.
For now though, I’m going to retire this blog post and head out into the streets of Ho Chi Minh en route towards the most delicious bowl of Pho I can find. And Mom, I’ll be writing many more posts from here on out… I promise.