20 slides, 15 seconds each slide, 5 minutes.
That’s the format for IGNITE. An IGNITE talk reminds me of a TEDX talk or the old Gnomedex run by Chris Pirillo. Except that it’s even more niche. It’s likely derived from the PechaKucha format, in which designers were challenged to talk with 20 slides auto-advancing after 20 seconds each. The content is inspiring, humorous, or pensive. And generally presented by nerds.
I gave my first IGNITE in Chile in January 2014. I wanted to introduce the concept of the Anywhere Startup.
I’ve been living and working from cities around the world for several years, but thanks to the increase in fiber, Internet, technology, resources, with near ubiquity driving the cost of access down, airline costs decreasing overtime, and other trends such as Startup workshops, in-flight wifi, etc, more people have the flexibility to travel and stay connected to one another.
I used to swear that I would do anything to get back to Spain, even if it meant I had to clean toilets with a toothbrush. Thankfully, I no longer have to do that. I’ve found success following an entrepreneurial path, and I want to help people get to that place too.
Here’s my Ignite Talk in Chile, introducing the Anywhere Startup:
The core points from my talk include:
1) I grew up sheltered, in rural America. I was 20 years old and I’d never left North America.
2) In college, I went to study abroad in Spain. I had never been on a plane, train, bus, or taxi. I had to do it all, within 24 hours, and – in SPANISH. My world was completely turned upside down.
3) But it was also during this time that I realized that I would to do whatever it would take to continue traveling.
That was 1997.
OVER 20 YEARS AGO.
4) I had only just started using email in 1994. Twenty years ago. In the University in Spain, my friend would sneak into the computer labs on the weekend with to use a computer (on DIAL UP) to send e-mail.
5) After school, I was to told to get a job. And I did. But even with the Internet, there was no mobility. I was still stuck in an office, watching the clock every day until 5 pm. Waiting to leave, or rather until someone else told me I could leave.
6) What happened to the days of being a pioneer, an explorer, of sailing our ships through unknown waters – navigating through obstacles and discovering new lands, creating new maps? Why couldn’t workers combine the Internet and travel?
7) The morning of my talk I physically worked from Santiago, but I was really working in New York and San Francisco. There is no difference between working right next to someone and being thousands of miles away, whether you’re in the air or sitting on a rock.
TODAY, 2014 – 27 YEARS FORWARD
8) Access to resources is nearing ubiquity and the cost of technology has plummeted. Airlines are now starting to offer FREE WIFI. I’ve been mid air sending emails, chatting, and making calls via Google Voice … and nobody … even knew … where I was.
THE ANYWHERE STARTUP
9) This is the concept of the Anywhere Startup. A startup that, simply, you can run from anywhere. It’s based on a set of what I call the Mobility Criteria.
10) I run 2 anywhere startups. One is an e-commerce company (or beer commerce, if you like) called Beer2Buds that allows you to send a friend a beer anywhere in the world. The other is a SaaS product called PromoBomb. I’ve been traveling while running these startups from anywhere.
11) The most obvious elements of the mobility criteria are strong wifi, continuous power, quiet private space. Thanks to co-working spaces popping up around the globe certainly feeds this ecosystem. But it hasn’t always been that easy….
12) In 2009 I went to Costa Rica lured by the promise of strong WIFI and continuous power. When I got there, the line was shared by 12 other businesses and the power would go out, people would shrug, and head to the beach.
13) In Budapest, I found a cafe open til midnight that had strong wifi, not shared with other people. Bingo. I arrived at quarter to 8.
At 8 pm, on the dot, the wifi was shut off. The waiter said they do it so people would socialize.
14) Learning my lesson, I went to Buenos Aires and got my own apartment with my OWN strong wifi and power. I was on a conference call with Budweiser, when all of a sudden someone started jack hammering through the wall. Jack hammering. My noise-canceling headphones were no match for the jack hammer. I also lost power and the call was over.
15) Things can and will happen, but the most important part to an Anywhere Startup, is having a system in place. 3 components of a perfect system are:
An Anywhere Startup requires a different type of commitment, different style of communication and new processes.
16) My Anywhere Startups have teams that are dispersed all over the world. We use a variety of tools for collaboration. We set our clocks to ONE timezone, in our case, EST. We set weekly meetings based on this time. No matter where we are on the globe, we all adhere to EST.
17) During our meetings, over Skype, one person may be having pizza for lunch, while another is having balut for dinner . Our sales team battle cries are “Walang Aayaw” and “Lage Raho.” We are an international team running on one single system.
NEXT 20 YEARS – THE FUTURE
18) What will the next twenty years look like? Did you know that only 30% of the world has metadata? In Nicaragua and my address was – 2 blocks down from San Miguel’s store, down the street past El Mar restaurant, and on the left hand side…
19) Imagine a world with 100% metadata, and, as access to resources becomes even more ubiquitous, people who never before were able to share their vision with the world could now do so. We create cross-cultural entrepreneurship, and global cooperation.
20) Imagine a world that where, when you land in Chile, it doesn’t say “roaming” you turn on your phone. It just works. I’m navigating the waters of the Anywhere Startup and building a map for the next twenty years of Anywhere Entrepreneurs.
What does your Anywhere Startup dream look like?