Last week we talked about the idea that acts as the foundation and guide for a startup. This week we’re going to postpone talking about the next step to answer some questions about where exactly our idea came from.
So here’s the question: where did the idea for Jet Set Zero come from?
The idea is something we discuss briefly at the beginning of episode one. Its always an interesting subject for me to talk about because so much of what we do, the core of the idea really, is something that everyone thinks about. Quitting your job, seeing the world, having an adventure, chasing down experiences of awe, exploring new cultures, relaxing on a beach instead of sitting behind a desk or counter.
The idea came about in much the same way that a lot of people’s ideas come about. I was sitting in a office, wasting what I felt were the best years of my life on a series of projects that I didn’t believe in and had the remotest chance of making it to market, much less actually affecting someone’s life. It was in this frustrated state that I kept thinking to myself – there has to be a way out. What if I just went to live on the beach somewhere. I could just hang out all day and drink on the beach. I would get just as much meaningful work done as I get done here, but man would it be a better life.
The catch here is that I rarely seem to go with the simple route, and I tend to take small introductory projects to their farthest, most epic incarnation before starting them. For example I once needed a new clock. I didn’t like any of the clocks at the store so I spent almost two months hand building the circuitry for a clock that looked more like what I wanted. In this particular case I couldn’t just go live on a beach. I had to take it to the extreme.
The idea slowly grew over the next few years and went from a simple island escape to building and running a bar in Belize (we really did a lot of research on this one), to finally a project that allowed for constant travel and sharing of the story with everyone who wasn’t having the same adventure we wanted.
After college I ended up taking a job at Microsoft and essentially won the lottery with positions that involve travel. I was heading to an international destination almost every month, and sometimes I would be on the road for upwards of 30 days traveling between international conferences, meetings and events. In some ways it was a dream, but I realized that all those long workdays spent daydreaming were of a very different experience than the one I was having now. In all of those scenarios I had my friends to share experiences with, while here I drifted though a surreal tunnel of impeccable hotels, airport bars and taxis. I was seeing the world, but in a way that was so disconnected from both everyday reality and my friends there was no common ground to share stories. It was here that I realized travel just isn’t the same without your friends at your side and a way to share your stories. In fact, the more friends and the more sharing, the better.
At some point I became so excited with the state of the idea that I was telling everyone I talked to about it. It was one fateful morning after a night out when I was pitching the idea to two friends over a breakfast at our favorite local IHOP. Part of me thought that it was a hilarious venture to pitch and idea and part of me thought that this time it just might work. Of those two friends one is now a very successful product manager in Microsoft’s Sever and Tools division and one of them is Rob.