One foggy Sunday morning in Seattle last December, we were frying bacon at Maptia HQ and brainstorming ideas for the best place to base our company over the next few months. Being UK citizens we now can't return to the States for another 6 months unless we somehow manage to get hold of longer term working visas (time-consuming, difficult, and expensive), or the Start Up Visa act is passed (click here to tweet your support for the act)
London, despite being close to our friends and family, and with a great network to fundraise, was quickly ruled out as an option. Among the most expensive cities in the world to live and rent, it didn't seem like a good way to spend our carefully saved pennies when all we really needed was peace and quiet to finish building the product. What's amazing about this stage of building a tech startup is that all you need is cheap living costs and fast internet.
After much animated discussion, and wistfully dismissing a treehouse in Hawaii as a good option, we hit upon Morocco as the place to be. It turns out to have the fastest internet in Africa, flights and the cost of living there is super cheap, and we were certainly attracted by the idea warm weather - a welcome change from London's various shades of grey. Jonny's prior knowledge of good places to live on the coast, having worked there as a surf instructor a year or so ago, will definitely be an asset in helping us in finding a great place to live and work.
We look forward to having the freedom to create our own maker's schedule. Besides the odd camel and a couple of goats climbing in the trees (we couldn't believe that at first either) distraction will be minimal living between the Sahara desert and the Atlantic ocean. No meetups we feel we have to go to, and no daily commute to sap our time or energy. Just the soothing sound of fingers flying over keyboards as code is written and pixels are slotted into space, punctuated by the crash of empty waves and the smell of spicy tagines.
Once we are installed and working hard in Morocco, we will have worked on Maptia on four different continents in under 12 months. Europe (London), South America (Santiago), North America (Seattle), and Africa (Morocco). That's when the idea struck us what an adventure it would be to work on Maptia on all of the seven continents! It may have been a side effect of our bacon-induced euphoria, but it would certainly make for a fantastic story.
The original Seven Summit challenge involves climbing the highest peak in all seven continents, and similarly, to successfully complete the 'Seven Summit Startup Challenge' the entire company must hit a major milestone (i.e. summit) whilst working from each of the seven continents.
To our knowledge it has never been attempted before, let alone completed. Likely because there are enough inherent challenges and costs involved in starting a company as it is, without having to worry about international upheaval of the entire team or slow internet speeds in Antarctica. Asia and Oceania might not be such a stretch for us... so completing six of the seven could be on the cards for Maptia. For now, however, we shall just enjoy landing on continent number four!
Have you had similar visa issues or worked on more than one continent at your startup? Any thoughts on the Seven Summit Startup Challenge? Then send us a tweet here.
And in case you haven't already, sign up to Maptia here, and be one the first to get on board when we launch.
Credit to @papalars for the stunning header photo of Mount Rainer.