A few days ago, I was lucky to be invited to speak in front of about 3000 leaders at the bi-annual APM gathering in Marseille on the topic “Renaissance & Entrepreneurship, New Ways». The organization was seamless, the stage and screens gigantic, the audience smart and enthusiastic. I loved it. I was there as a young tech / green entrepreneur using innovative methods to reach an international audience. I was honored to share the stage with amazing intellectuals such as Jacques Attali, Serge Soudoplatoff, Pierre-Marie Lledo, Axel Kahn, Florence Servan-Schreiber, Cynthia_Fleury, Jean-Francois Noubel and more.
My 3 key themes were :
Innovation, the shape shifting hull and modular sailing drone
Open Hardware for the Environment, inviting company leaders to change how they approach intellectual property
Global collaboration, to solve world pressing problems
I presented more than 200 slides with many videos and several people asked me to post my presentations : they are below. You can flick through the slides and simply click the links on connected articles / sources / videos.
I really enjoyed sharing my experience during this event, the many smart & difficult questions, the great conversations. I want to send a special thanks to Marc Tirel (for introduction), Fleurke Combier (from APM), Marion Chapsal (coach http://ideasonstage.com/) Yves Rajaud and all the workshop animators – you have been amazing. Also great thanks to my agent who has organized all the logistics of the event, the magic Lavin Agency.
It was my first time in Marseille, I loved the classic small yachts in the Vieux Port.
Even If I must admit, I did not take much time out of my hotel room :)
On July 14th, my girlfriend and were hiking on Lamma Island (Hong Kong) for her birthday. I was told there had been a small oil spill recently, but I did not expect to see it when we arrived in Tung O Wan, Shek Pai Wan (22.196649, 114.139827).
I arrived yesterday in Hong Kong. I have been thinking about this day for some time, to “make it in China”. It is good for the company. It’s going to be good for me. My very first moments with the bus driver wanting to charge me twice, and the taxi driver not speaking any english refusing to pick me regardless of my heavy luggage were difficult. But since, everything feels more than right.
The buildings seem to emerge, growing from the lush vegetation. The temperature is very high and humid. It’s been raining a lot.
The place where I am staying is a large truck repair yard owned by the father of my friend. My family in Japan are metallic structure builders, the same smell, I feel at home here. We eat all the meals together, with the grand-mother, the parents, the children, the grand children. I really love that 4 generations are living under the same roof peacefully.
For my first day, I was supposed to go to town and find out about the basics : food, transport, communication, but… I got distracted :) The incredibly kind landlord, the father of my friend allowed me to borrow this mountain bike… and as I was going to get office supply, I got carried away and started a 30 miles journey, some of wich was on broken roads in the mountains.
On the way I found possibly great spots to test Protei.
The Bay between Shenzhen and Hong Kong is filled with long and narrow vessels.
At some point, what was a road just became a dry waterfall. An accidental canyon.
Overall I am so happy to be here. This is where we must be now. On the edge.
I wasn’t too sure what I was getting into when I approached this building.
Well it is called the “Brooklyn Navy Yard“, by the water, just opposite of Manhattan. My friend Architect Mitchell Joachim told me there would be a ton of good people there…
Yeah, I know, we are moving to Hong Kong, but I am super excited knowing that a home for Protei might be under construction in New York ;) Gabriella is from here and we dream of being allowed using a table there for now :)
The New Lab has this huge terrace…
And just by the future building there is this large dry dock.
I cannot help but dreaming how we could build very large “Ocean Zeppelin” in there ! Above Protei_003 I built in New Orleans in 2010, model is Hunter Daniels.
This is a view of the future NewLab from the current NewLab. Manhattan is just there.
After 4 months at sea. We finally landed. After travelling in 14 countries, together. After sharing a small cabin with no windows and a tiny bathroom. It is all behind us now. As everyone was saying good bye, I had to tell my Unreasonable Fellows “You are not going back home, the ocean is your home”, they are always welcome.
You can imagine it was not easy saying good bye. A new family was formed, now scattered as a global network. Each going back to their countries.
Hard to believe that we were the lucky 10 companies chosen out of about 1000… it is now history. Allow me to list theses 10 companies:
Agua: Providing clean water to 300,000 people w/out chemicals or energy (just plants).
Damascus Fortune: Nanotechnology that transforms carbon emissions into material for spaceships.
Innoz: Most used mobile-app in India. Designed to leapfrog internet. +120,000,000 users.
GuruG: Educates and empowers teachers through a “gamified” platform.
Solar Ear: World’s 1st digitally programmable and rechargeable hearing aids.
Protei: Wind powered, shape shifting, open source sailing drones that explore and clean oceans.
Evolving Technologies: Radically affordable medical devices for maternal care in emerging markets.
One Earth Design: Harnesses the sun for cooking & energy. Ranked best solar cooker on earth.
Prakti: Feeding 250,000 people daily with ultra-affordable and fuel efficient stoves.
Artificial Vision for the Blind : Artificial intelligence leveraged as a non-invasive cure for blindness.
Keep an eye on these guys. What will happen to them in the next months and years? Will they realise the idea that “entrepreneurship can change the world”? Will they become icons of social entrepreneurship? Or will theses companies fall apart? Time will tell.
Testing Protei 10.5
Protei 10.5 Testing in Parque del Ciutadella, Barcelona, Spain. Thanks to the Prieto’s (Muriel, Jesus, Rosa), Bianca Cheng Costanzo & Nils Mattisson.
Photos by Improbables productions, Fanny Pernoud & Olivier Bonnet.
What we learnt
The world is a big place, but I want to keep my summary as short and synthetic as possible.
During the voyage we built 3 Protei prototypes that we transported and tested in a variety of waters. Although not having access to our working space, tools and materials often felt limiting, we learnt how to do more with less, simplifying how we prototype Protei.
In a nutshell Protei needs to be:
More rugged, to take around.
Smaller needs to fit in a standard suitcase and be easy to strap to a backpack. Lighter in particular would allow the use of rechargeable D cells as ballast.
Simpler to set, wire at the beginning and while the machine is already in operations with spring loaded clamps at the end of wires.
Transparent is convenient for maintenance and acknowledging if there is a water leak inside the dry case.
Equiped with a modular removable dry case inside the hull for the electronics makes maintenance much easier.
The ease to recycle the hull is critical to most people since they do not want to see Protei polluting the oceans.
The mast length should not exceed the total length of the boat, for safer packing and transportation.
Sensors: travelling to all these places, talking to local scientists we learnt a lot about the sensors they would want to transport within Protei.
Cost: we have a much better idea of who can buy Protei, for what and at what price.
Managing Performance expectations: We now know what people want this technology to do. We must make clear that we are delivering a beta product at this point.
Define our identity and culture as a corporation. Some have described Protei Inc. as a technology coompany, other as social entrepreneurs, some as a clean-tech startup. Being surrounded by other companies helped us understand how similar and different we are. This may sound obvious for those who know us but this is our corporate culture:
Ethical order of priorities: 1. Environment, 2. Social, 3. Technology, 4. Profit.
Open: The problems we are trying to address are huge, as huge as the ocean, there is enough work for everybody. Let’s work together.
Community-driven development, Product and timing to release open source documentation: To make sure we cover our overhead and stay open, we release the documentation when we ship the product, not before. Internally, we work on extremely fast prototyping cycles.
Fast paced. Being an Open Hardware business means that we invite others to copy and improve on what we do. In other words, we are constantly trying to put ourselve out of business, helping as much as we can competition. We have to innovate constantly in order to stay ahead of the game.
Radical innovation on 3 main topics (for now): 1. Technology (Shape Shifting Sailing Robot), 2. Open Hardware, 3. Global innovation community (Social R&D).
Collaborative, competitive: Collaboration and competition can be one same playful activity as long as it is fair and harmless. Again, the ocean is big enough for all of us, let’s address its issues together.
Measured risk: like any corporation, we need to survive to thrive and contribute to our maximum capacity to the world.
Organic growth: Protei brings about a new technology, but it is really a new industry potentially. We want to grow with our community.
Ambitious but not speculative: too many engineering firms or labs guarantee their technology would scale before testing. Let’s not do that. Because this is a new industry, we do not want to have opportunistic investment speculating and deviating us from our core value.
This is about learning: Developing Open Hardware Shape-Shifting Sailing Robots is not that common and there will be bumps on the road. Let’s learn about them.
Non-military applications: we will not provide technical support for life threatening applications.
We learnt about what kind of people we want to be, who we want to work with:
About the people:
Integrity, loyalty: we can all agree that we we are all different, and we need to be able to trust each other.
Creativity & Persistance: doing whatever it takes to make it work, even it is not in the job description. Be resourceful, own it.
Humour: being capable of laughing especially in the difficult or painful situation. That tells
Curious & Fearless: In a given experience, the expected outcomes may be A, B or C. Choose D. Ask the hard and the painful dumb questions over again.
I also learnt a lot on a personal level. Many of which are hard to explain with words.
Gabriella Levine: getting to know my business partner. Yes, she’s absolutely awesome across the board. Exceptional, I’m the luckiest man in the world to work with Gabriella. For me developing good people is the condition to developing good technologies.
defining my personal identity as global citizen. I have been traveling so much these last years… The ocean is my home. Forever.
Achieve a dream, Sailing around the world: since I am a child I have been dreaming of sailing around the world. Check. Next time I want to do it wind powered though!
Develop strategies of “How to use capitalism for the Environment”, “Open Hardware for the Environment”. I feel I made a lot of progress thanks to all the discussions we had on board and on land.
Built a new family: and that’s not a detail. A trusted network, that’s priceless.
Learning to “dream with my eyes open”
I think these 2 images below sum up what has changed for me.
Retrospectively I feel I was almost almost gambling, about the different options. I feel I know more what I am doing now.
A lot of what seemed mystery is really common sense. It all makes sense.
Many of my intuitions have been verified. This mask has the third eye. I’m not trying to evoke anything esoteric here, I am only suggesting that a lot of what I felt instinctively about the business was made tangible. I feel more confident now. Also impatient to get on the “battlefield” after so much preparation.
logistics of moving
set up a company in HK in order to manufacture
find an office, a workshop and a place to love
anticipate transportation, food, insurances
Find a sponsor / partner / client to contribute towards our manufacturing cost and be at the forefront of sailing technology and re-inventing ocean big data capture and clean up
1 ship. 100 days at sea. 14 countries. 10 companies. 2o mentors. 600 students. A life changing experience.
I love the comment of the Unreasonable at Sea Media team explaining what a “Hack-a-Thon” is :
While in Morocco, Gabriella Levine and Cesar Harada of Protei took advantage of the engineer community in Casablanca to host what they called a “hack-a-thon”. While most people think of “hacking” as “the process of gaining unauthorised access to computer systems for the purpose of tampering and / or stealing personal and financial information,” the intentions for the event was far from malicious or illegal. The attendees of the event were presented the challenge of designing and testing a boat in 12 hours using scraps and raw materials not typically used for constructing any type of aquatic vehicle. The accelerated learning and prototyping that came out of the event defines a new type of “hacker” as one “who combines excellence, playfulness, cleverness and exploration in performed activities.”
We have to give great thanks to ESITH ENACTUS for being such great hosts and participants. The workshop was lead by :
Cesar HARADA (France-Japan): Inventor of the Protei Shape-shifting system, Ex MIT Project leader, TED Fellow.
Gabriella LEVINE (USA) : Hardware Designer & Hacker, Top women in Tech (Adafruit), Master from ITP Tisch New York
El Wali El ALAOUI (Marocco): Founder of SaharaLabs / Tarfaya Hackerspace, first hackerspace in Morocco.
Darren BENNETT (USA): Creative Director, Microsoft Studios, Member of the original Kinect group.
17:00 – 18:00 : Test in the water. fim, photos, documentation.
18:00 – 19:00 : Diner
19:30 – 24:00 : Work at ESITH for those who want to continue, advanced hacking, improve prototype, documentation, share on social media.
Our amazing organising team!!! 4 boats in the water! All winers!
We gave a t-shirt and a hoodie to the winning team… A few hours later : this was on facebook!!! The pride of working together is mutual. Thanks to Roman Yablonski for the amazing Protei logo, people love it! We must also tell for the story that our original intention was to hold the Protei Hackathon, at the first and only (to date) hackerspace in Morocco : SaharaLabs / Tarfaya Hackerspace in the middle of the desert by the sea, founded by the mesmerizing El Wali El ALAOUI. I designedthis sticker in honor of our collaboration :
We keep precious memories from the hackathon. Next time, Protei hackathon in Tarfaya, Inchallah!
Protei meets OCP
We have been lucky to meet the sustainability managers of the largest Moroccan company, the OCP. “OCP is the world’s biggest exporter of phosphates and derivatives. The company is solely responsible for the production and sale of Moroccan phosphate resources, mined at the Khouribga, Ben Guerir, Youssoufia mines totaling 85 billion cubic meters of reserves in central Morocco, and Bou Craa about 1 billion cubic meter in Saguia el-Hamra region, in the Morocco-controlled part of Western Sahara. OCP is a state owned company created in 1920.” Source : Wikipedia. OCP has both an R&D and a sustainability department. OCP used to operate a large fleet of ships to export phosphate, but it is no longer the case, it is now the client that is responsible for procuring the materials. We had a good discussion about the environmental implications of the OCP and will keep contact with the group. Special thanks to Soraya Joundy for the intro.
I tried to explain this so many times, and often got that blank expression in return. The normal curve that some environmentalists advocate doesn’t start to be good enough for the environment. It is not about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, we need to go much further than that if we want to revert our negative impact on the environment. The idea is very simple. What people call “green-tech”, “eco-friendly” or “clean-tech” suggests that it is good for the environment. Not neutral. But that can only be true over time. For example : a solar panel requires a lot of energy to be manufactured. You need to use a solar panel for a long time, maintain it and use it in an efficient context to offset the environmental cost of designing, developing, manufacturing, packing, shipping, selling it to a customer (first half of the red area on the graph) before you even start using a green product. I remember reading an average solar panel needs to be used ~10 years (other half of the red area) to offset it’s own environmental cost from fabrication to sale. It is only after 10 years of regular use that a solar panel goes below being neutral and starts becoming really having a positive environmental impact (green area on the graph) until it “dies”. Even that does not include the product “after life” when it is being recycled, hopefully “returned to nature” without damage or accumulation in a landfill.
Protei collecting ocean data will not offset it’s own environmental cost easily. What it does, it reduces the environmental cost dramatically in comparison to operating a large fossil fuel-powered oceanographic vessel for the same job. On the other hand, a large Protei unit that performs environmental clean up (plastic debris, oil spill) would offset it’s environmental cost very quickly by capturing trash /pollution / environmental “value” in the ocean that others have produced. I call that “absorbing other companies externalities“, some people use that to get evaluated on the carbon market. We want to partner with companies that have a lot of these externalities, probably through the channel of Corporate Social/Environmental Responsibility, some companies would speak about “Shared Values“.
Why do I mention that in my blog post about Morocco? 2 main reasons :
I encourage young engineers to think that it is not about minimising the negative environmental impact their technology has ; it is about having a positive impact on the environment. That may mean changing the agenda of the company. Can it be profitable? I think so in many cases. If not short term, that comes across to me as a generally good long-term strategy. What’s also true, is that destroying the base of everything else – the environment – will not permit any of the rest to happen. We need to make these choices.
In this post I mention OCP. OCP is apparently doing a great job mining phosphate in its own rights, but the fertiliser that gets exported, when used inappropriately by their clients can have heavy implications on the environment, especially the oceans with hypoxia,eutrophication and many other directly or indirectly fertiliser-induced effects on the ocean do occur. We would love to investigate on this topic and perhaps assist OCP improve the after-sale.
We enjoyed Morocco and we’re excited to come back. These days some of the people we talked to are discussing how they could open and manage a hackerspace in Casablanca :) … That’s exciting! Keep going ladies and gentlemen!
We’ll start by the fun stuff with good Ghanian music :) We were very much interested about the life of the Ghanian fishermen, so we just drove there and met a community of them near Axim. After a few minutes of discussion we asked if we could join them for a fishing experience and they accepted to take us out on the water. At rising sun, we pushed the vessel in the water on big steel rolls and wood boards, passed the wave breaking point, sailed to the fishing spot, deployed our nets, sailed back to shore, pulled the nets for a long time. I was surprised that even for pulling the nets back on shore, no mechanics is being used, it is all raw human power. The men were incredibly strong and pretty much risking their lives without any safety. The reason why we came to visit the fishermen, is because we wanted to know if their had been affected by the recently introduced offshore oil industry nearby. Thanks to Samuel Ainoosoa Kwesie for introducing us to the captain.
According to the World Bank Ghana is a relatively healthy democratic developing country with a good multi-party political system, freedom of press, a good education infrastructure, with a growing industrial, illegal mining (Ghana is one the top producer of gold), oil and growing population. The CO2 emission is in steady increase – not that this would be an index of sustainable growth rather the contrary- but indicates the country is increasingly active on the industrial, transportation and construction fronts. So overall Ghana is doing “well”. Still we found several important issues:
At the top of the hill above the fishermen’s village, there is… a chinese castle! SINOPEC is installing a large pipeline along the coastline.
Inside, a real garden of eden with multiple fountains. We were told that about 100 skilled chinese engineers and workers live here. Many Ghanians seem to be unhappy with the chinese presence and feel their natural ressources are being exploited by foreigners. As a half-asian person, I wonder why Ghanians do not build their own castles and garden of Eden… And why Ghanian authorities let chinese operate at a scale they do not feel comfortable with? Quickly after we got in, the SINOPEC security agents came, asked us to delete our photographs and leave.
Tullow is the largest Oil Industry operating in Ghana on the main Oil Field called the Jubilee Oil Field. We visited their headquarters and attempted speaking to their environmental department without success. We are in email communication now. Below are the concessions of the Jubilee oil & gas field:
According to the locals we met, the annual turnover of several of these companies are many times the turnover of the whole country of Ghana.
Ministry of Energy
Thanks to Faustine Araba Boakye of the International Clean Cooking Association, we were able to meet Kofi Agyarko.
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
At the EPA we were able to speak to Ebenezer K Appah-Sampong, Director Planning, Programming, Monitoring & Education.
Ministry of Fisheries
At the Ministry of Fisheries, we spoke to:
Director: Samuel Quartey
Director of Marine Fisheries: Mathilda Quist
Marine Fisheries Research Division: Paul Bannerman
Field researchers: Joseph Seboah, Richster Nii Amarfio, Noble Wadzah, George Awudi
On the wall of the Ministries of fisheries we could read some press cuts: the World Bank is running a program (among many in Ghana) worth US$ 53.80 million. It is labelled as “loan and credit“. Below is the program abstract:
The development objective of the First Phase of the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program Project is to support the sustainable management of Ghana’s fish and aquatic resources by: (i) strengthening the country’s capacity to sustainably govern and manage the fisheries; (ii) reducing illegal fishing; (iii) increasing the value and profitability generated by the fish resources and the proportion of that value captured by the country; and (iv) developing aquaculture. There are five components to the project. The first component of the project is good governance and sustainable management of the fisheries. This component aims to build the capacity of the Government and stakeholders to develop and implement policies through a shared approach that would ensure that the fish resources are used in a manner that is environmentally sustainable, socially equitable and economically profitable. The second component of the project is reduction of illegal fishing. The component aims to reduce the illegal fishing activities threatening the sustainable management of the country’s fish resources. The third component of the project is increasing the contribution of the fish resources to the national economy. The component aims to identify and implement measures to increase the benefits to Ghana from the fish resources, by increasing the share of the value-added captured in the country. The fourth component of the project is aquaculture development. The component aims to set the framework for increased investment in inland aquaculture. The fifth component of the project is regional coordination, monitoring and evaluation and project management. The component aims to support project implementation and regional coordination with the project, ensuring that regular monitoring and evaluation is conducted, and the results are fed back into decision-making and project management. Administrated by Berengere P. C. Prince.
The program started in July 2011 and will end in December 2017. This is a very important information. There is capital to carry on all these tasks, clear objectives and deadlines.
University of Ghana, Professor Christopher Gordon
Professor Gordon is the most scientifically educated and creative person we met in the country.
Prof Gordon mentioned that Protei might be an interesting device to deploy in Lake Volta, but also the many lagoons to study oxygen levels, redox potential, sedimentation and other environmental parameters. Lagoons tend to accumulate land-borne pollution in particular heavy metals from mining. We are interested to build a pilot proposal with Prof Gordon and use University of Ghana as our base when we come to Ghana. A topic that we are also interested is the interaction between the oil and the fishing industry when it comes to environment.
Center for Environmental Impact Analysis, Samuel Obiri
With the sharp mind of Samuel Obiri, an independent researcher, we wrapped all the discussions we had with the different ministries and stakeholders. Mr Obiri explained us what is the relationship between the scientific and the legal as well as the business sides of the oil exploitation in Ghana. We discussed the level of oil spill preparedness and the expected involvement of fishermen in the event of an oil spill.
An important observation was that
fishermen are currently the most at loss with the development of the oil industry and
if an oil spill was to happen, they would be on the frontline to clean up and suffer the heaviest health, mental, environmental social and economic damages.
In a very short amount of time, we have been capable of meeting most of the key stakeholders of the oil and the fishing industry, from ministry representatives to local fishermen, from University researchers to independent environmental consulting agencies. The challenges that Ghana is facing in terms of environmental impact of the oil industry, the apparent lack of preparedness to oil spill, the lack of environmental data about water quality and fish stock suggests that Protei could really make a difference in Ghana. The low cost, open source, modular, transparent nature of Protei appealed to all the people we talked to. There is therefore a case for coming back to Ghana with Protei.
The main difficulty now is the definition of a strategy for raising funds to address these issues.
If we run a pilot, which stakeholders shall we involve?
Academia: University of Ghana, ASESHI, OUWA, AITI, foreign Universities
Politics: EPA, Ministries of Food & Agriculture & Technology, Fisheries
Cape Town is a spectacular city. The mountains that surround the city. The beauty of the ocean. The powerful winds. Captured above by our wonderful media team having lots of fun at work.
First thing we did in Cape Town was to go and meet with Gabriella’s friend who owns a fashion shop called Unknown Union in the hip area of the city. At the entrance of the shop, we were so surprised to find the installation of a my friend Candy Chang “Before I die, I want to …” !
Every time I come across Candy’s work, it reminds me of the good times I had when I was living in New Orleans a few years back, living in the same street as Candy in the Bywater. It reminds me of my dreams, it reminds me that everyone has amazing dreams, and we’re all in this world to make them all happen…
The SAP pitch event
The pitch event went very well, additionally to our “classic” pitch we added a soundtrack that was emotional and I think it really worked !I love the idea of making a music hall instead of a pitch event :) We won the SAP pitch event in Cape Town and the reward was …
A diner in a chic restaurant with all mentors and special guests
We were very fortunate to share the table with this group of exceptional people. Many of which were our influential mentors.
Koeberg, Africa only nuclear power plant
We spent about 2 days investigating about Koeberg, Africa one and only nuclear power plant. We rented a car, drove there twice.
You may be positively surprised to hear that the levels of radioactivity that we measured around the nuclear power plant were acceptable. In fact we had higher levels in the center of Cape Town than close to the Koeberg plant. We measured levels on the beach, and in the water at about 1 meter underwater with the sensor we customised with Safecast for the Fukushima expedition. We were able to pay a little visit at the Koeberg Visitor Center and learn all about the plant and the technology they use. Many kids were also visiting. We were not allowed to approach the power plant closer than 2 kilometers. According to documentation in the plant, the cooling of the reactor causes the temperature of the sea to be significantly increased (up to 10ºC) outside the plant outake of water. It was surprising to see that the Nuclear power plant is installed in the middle of a natural reserve that is a highly secured perimeter. What it felt was that the natural reserve was more of an excuse to keep curious people and activist at a greater distance… I’m now curious about the radioactivity levels at Vaalputs in the Northern Cape where the used fuel is disposed.
The local makers
Thanks to our connexion Ralph Borland that we knew from the Science Gallery back in Dublin, we were able to have a really nice insight into the maker / designer culture of Cape Town.
We were introduced by Paul Mesarcik to the local designer / maker’s world.
Below Protei INC Art Collection very first acquisition !!! Who is the artist?
Thanks to Paul Mesarcik that studied electro-mechanics at Cape Town University, we were introduced to Dr Robyn Verrinder of the Research and Instrumentation, Departement of Electric Engineering of Cape Town University. We discussed with local researchers their their latest development in autonomous sailing robot. Above, a freshly build hull that is being compartmentalised and ballasted with fishing lead weights in the bulb. Quite a few researchers are now interested in developing autonomous sailing robots, this is the people we want to involve with Protei!
The Gangster Incubator
We were lucky to meet Marlon Parker (Facebook) of Rlabs who introduced us to many inspiring young people in a not very inspiring neighbourhood. They explained us about their community, the hope they found, how the access to technology helped them feel empowered to look a their future, how it re-enchanted their lives.
They just arrived from a 4 months journey the day before our departure from Cape Town! We had to meet!
The East African Marine Transect expedition is a not-for profit expedition that is managed and facilitated by Moving Sushi. Moving Sushi actions strong ideas by facilitating globally important marine-based scientific expeditions to explore the relationship between humanity, our marine environment, science, technology and how new knowledge is communicated and shared through open source channels.
They just completed 234 dives, were quite tired, and after sharing a quick breakfast they went back to unpack their boat.
Joe Heywood of North Sails
Our last encounter in South Africa was with Joe Heywood of North Sails. It was great sitting down with his family, sharing food and geeking about sail / rig designs. Thanks a lot for your precious advices Joe!
You will need to respect the corporate formalities.
Dont mix personal and corporate finance.
Utilise your legal as a strategic asset. It is always easier / cleaner to do formalities at the front end.
The choice your company really depends where you want to see your company in 3, 4, 5 years.
LLC or S-corp is usually what I would recommend. It is easy to convert from S-corp or from LLC to C Corp. Why choosing a C-Corp? It is very much loving giving money to the government. There is a big difference when it comes to tax on Asset acquisition and Asset in stock purchase. Don’t make it too complicated. Keep things simple when you are small, it will become complicated anyway.
Don’t count on the growth of your company to pay taxes. We talked about the burst of the .com bubble and 83(b) and sweat equity.
Loan VS Investment
Should I take it as equity or as a loan? Convertible note : it is a hybrid between a promissory note and equity. Some love it, some advice not to. It can be converted in equity, stock at a discount, cash. So when you make such a call, you can phrase it like this :
“We’re looking giving away a convertible note. We’re looking at raising 700,000 USD. The investor will get a 20% discount on stock. ”
The company doesn’t have to give away the control.
It is good for investor because they will get paid before the owners of the company. It is a great way for an investor to wait. It becomes a credit, a liability for the company.
How do you make a valuation? Book value, asset value… the trick is to have a market value that everyone can recognise.
You can make a pre-money valuation and put upfront what the “investor” (someone who owns a note – not shares – not ownership)
5. Lack of a clear exit strategy
There is a variety of exit strategies :
You want to sell to a third party
You want to sell to your key employee
Sell to family members
Work closely with an attorney that will help you be entrepreneurial about the structuring of the company.
Singapore is a bubble. It is described as a “startup city” since its independence recognised in 1824. Singapore has been following its motto “Onward Singapore” to become the world 4th financial center, pretty impressive for a 710km2 territory. According to TechCrunch, Singapore has the best ecosystem for startups in Asia.
The event at the INSEAD was very impressive. Many important people came and we had great discussions and learning nuggets. Even more than Hong Kong did, Singapore presented itself as the platform to develop projects in East Asia. It is true that Singapore supports very effectively new comers when it comes to business. The government can easily become a real share-holder of your company which can potentially give you a lot of stability and growth but at the same time restricts your business reactivity / mobility.
We intended to put Protei in the water and immediately residents told us we would be fined the equivalent of 5000 USD for putting anything in the water without permission. I enjoyed our 38 hours in Singapore, but I cannot imagine living there or doing R&D in a place that is that so strictly regulated.
Singapore was also the opportunity to meet friends, here the amazing Dave Lim, TEDxSingapore organiser at the WWF supported Earth Hour headquarters that he directs.
Dusty arrival at Kyoto University straight from Fukushima
Thanks to the endurance of Joe Moross of Safecast, we drove through the night straight from Fukushima to Kyoto to arrive just on time at our meeting at Kyoto Institute of Technology. We have been kindly welcomed by Mister Wakamiya and Miss Nakajima from Kyoto Institute of Technology International Affairs. Mister Wakayama was really a fun person to be around and he wrote on our rear window : “WASH ME Please” hahaha! Miss Nakajima was amazing at arranging a meeting for us and 3 professors at the University.
Dolphin Hydrodynamics, fish scales optimisation
Professor HAGIWARA Yoshimichi, working on fluid engineering.
From PhysicsWorld.com : “Japanese physicists have discovered why dolphins are able to swim so quickly and smoothly through water. Yoshimichi Hagiwara and colleagues at the Kyoto Institute of Technology found that the unusual skin of the dolphin — which flakes off and is completely replaced every two hours — plays a crucial role in helping reduce drag effects. The results could help engineers design energy-efficient boats, ships and submarines (H Nagamine et al. 2004 J. Turbulence 5 018)”
A year ago, I saw devastation on hundreds of kilometers of coastline. I met fishermen at the refugee camp that told me terrifying stories of earthquake, tsunami and radioactivity. To remind you a few facts : on 11 March 2011, a magnitude 9.03 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake about 70km off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC). Tsunami waves reached heights of up to 40.5 metres (133 ft) in Miyako in Tōhoku’s Iwate Prefecture and which, in the Sendai area, travelled up to 10 km (6 mi) inland. 15,878 deaths, 6,126 injured and 2,713 people missing from the earthquake and tsunami alone. The tsunami caused nuclear accidents, primarily the level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents. The World Bank’s estimated economic cost was US$235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in world history.
According to the Woods Hole Institute, the Fukushima Nuclear plant accident “resulted in the largest accidental release of radiation to the environment in history” – if you want to understand how it compares to Chernobyl, please have a read at this informative poster.
I found several sites that would be good to launch a fleet of Protei from, and potentially sail around Fukushima to measure radioactivity. So I had to come back. This time with Gabriella Levine, and a Protei to test in the water, more prepared. We arranged a meeting with Joe Moross of Safecast.
After a brief discussion we came to the conclusion that making underwater measurements was a research worth attempting. The other information was that water generally acts as “a shield”, and being many times denser than air, radioactivity tends to get “diluted” in the “mass of water”. So we decided to attempt measuring radioactivity on the seafloor. That would mean getting our sensor underwater, very close to the seafloor.
We ran to Akihabara with Prof Alvaro Cassineli of Tokyo University and spent most of our night hacking at the Safecast headquarters in Shibuya (picture above).
After a few hours of sleep, and before hitting the road, we stocked up some cute radioactive cake. Please have a slice :)
In the car, the co-pilot would get near-real time radioactivity informations and guide instructions to the driver from Tokyo to Fukushima, and later down from Fukushima to Kyoto trying to take yet unmapped / un-measured routes. We encountered snowy or icy road in the mountains that slowed down our progression.
The Safecast shiny red car took us all the way to Fukushima, where we found this wreck of a red fireman truck. Stark contrast.
I knew we would come across brocken houses, but I can never get used to it…
We were everywhere reminded that nothing can resist the power of nature. “Tsunami Barrier” is an oxymoron. No matter how hard we try.
We tested Protei v10.4 in the water. The electro-mechanics are working well but it lacked ballast (weight at the bottom of the keel) : the wind flattened it on the water and careless transport later broke the mast. We’ll work on the build again soon. Because we were in Fukushima, we focused not on Protei itself but on the radioactivity sensing part.
We tested our freshly built underwater geiger counter up to 6 meter depth without leak nor damage to the sensor.
are significant enough to make us want to investigate the topic further in partnership with Safecast.
Hundreds of thousands of people have suffered the earthquake, tsunami and on-going nuclear crisis. We feel such research is extremely valuable for the life of people, the future of Japan and other countries equipped with nuclear equipments and waste facilities. We don’t know yet what would be the value of a map of seafloor radioactivity similar to the one the Woods Hole researchers have been developing for surface water (below). I believe these would be 2 very complementary data sets and would help us understand much better radioactivity in the oceans in general. Such Protei deployment could also be used in other “Radioactive waters” which are not necessarily consequent to nuclear accidents in Africa and the Middle east (must read article).
As we are sailing around the world, we are making radioactivity measurement everywhere we go. Maps will come :)
A million thanks to Safecast and Tokyo University Department of Applied Physics.
We’ll be back !!!