2013, the year of audacity and the unknown, and of crowdfunding.
After nine years of methodically infiltrating digital ecosystems around the planet, faberNovel has entered a whole new world of sponsorship and mentoring possibilities: offshore sailing.
And this new era begins here. Maybe those of you who can put a picture or a name on "offshore sailing" thought their click would've taken them here, or perhaps here (but definitely not here, right). But here we are, faberNovel is supporting a young, close to unknown, calm looking fellow named Ian, who says he wants to race across the Atlantic on a 20 foot long sailboat - alone.
This is what a "Mini 6.50" looks like when you're not in the middle of the ocean, not alone
If you can't wait till the end of this post to know more about the project itself, take a look at this crowdfunding page, and donate a few euros to show your support and get that boat sailing. If you don't understand French, not even the words "soutenir ce projet", keep reading.
Why does this project matter?
Maybe you don't like boats because they are unstable or because you are seasick, or maybe you don't get why you should care about "unfamiliar athletes with skills you won't understand on expensive boats in the middle of nowhere"1. But there is a meaning to it.
First, a few simple, ecumenical reasons:
- Because this is the first time a sailing challenge intersects with the digital entrepreneurship world, thanks to support from startup & SME networks Cap Digital, Silicon Sentier, and Systematic.
- Because this endeavour is a little startup of its own: guy with a project seeks support and funding to be able to keep working his a** off in tough conditions, so as to gain experience, exposure, and perhaps glory in the juniors' league.
- Because the sea is the limitless field of adventures and exploits.
- Because big corporations support big boats on big races; medium companies support medium boats on medium races; and smaller, agile and bold ex-startups support tiny boats on beginners' races (that also attract candidates from around the world).
This is the kind of inconvenience that can happen when the going gets tough: a little steering error and you stop dead, totally out of control
Second, a few more chauvinistic stories, inspired by this article (still in French, sorry) by Jean-Louis Fréchin:
- "Nautical industries" is a sector dominated by French companies. In fact, France is the world leader in this industry that includes boats, sails, electronics and equipment, but also software and training (professional and amateur)
- Sailing used to be an aristocratic leisure, that France was the first to introduce to the masses thanks to grassroots, post-WW2 sailing school Les Glénans. Simple, cheap and robust sailboats were designed, that could be easily built anywhere and easily used by anyone. "This non-profit (...) illustrates how important the associative world is, in its ability to support, or even trigger social and societal change," writes Fréchin. A possible mission statement for the startup & SME networks that are now supporting Ian's project. (By the way, Ian used to be a sailing instructor with Les Glénans.)
The Vaurien: a boat designed for easy building and easy learning
- This evolution was enabled by technology and innovation: wood was replaced by new materials like aluminum and polyester, boats started being built in very industrialized ways (mobile assembly line, single-piece hull, and all that jazz)
- Technology and innovation + Passionate entrepreneurs who want to change the world + Highly engaged associative structure + Schools + Challenges and awards + Adventures and stories to tell = an ecosystem, be it nautical or digital.
So why has faberNovel engaged in supporting a sailing project? Fréchin explains:
"...the cultural dimension born by the sea, that is to say dreams, stories, epics and symbols cannot be dissociated from the economic success stories (...). Hence, in the days of FabLabs, neo-industrialization, business clusters and digital ecosystems, the sea reminds us that an economic ecosystem cannot do without passion, context, culture, symbols, personal achievements, and commitment to social change."
Or maybe we just liked the name Ian chose for his undersize, yet robust vessel: "Pas de futur sans numérique", which translates into "The future will be digital or will not be".