I’m wrapping up my Southeast Asia adventure… but had to share my latest article about a new client, PicThatWord, and the Founder’s misadventures in relaxation. Enjoy!
Article first published as <a href=’http://technorati.com/blogging/article/will-work-for-compressed-air-the/‘>Will Work For Compressed Air: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Reluctant Relaxation</a> on Technorati.
When Iphone game developer Scott McCarthy set off on a six-week sabbatical to Indonesia, his intentions were in the right place. Knowing that his photo/word association game, PicThatWord, would be launching worldwide on both the Iphone and Facebook in a few short weeks, McCarthy carved out some personal time before PicThatWord’s launch to travel through Indonesia with his girlfriend. He knew there would be work to do while he was on the road: check in with engineers, build out marketing, tweak screen shots, but ultimately, the Bay Area game-maker knew that it was now or never for a long-haul journey. The couple decided there was no better place to relax than Bali, Indonesia. And for the most part, they were spot on. For the most part, that is, until the pair stumbled onto a small village in northeast Bali called Tulamben.
McCarthy had been happily working for weeks at odd hours during his journey (what entrepreneur completely logs off during vacation?), but decided to unplug the laptop and spend a few days honing one of his many water-sport pastimes, SCUBA diving. Tulamben Bay is home to some of the most spectacular underwater scenery on the planet, featuring the staggeringly beautiful USAT Liberty Shipwreck.
Tulamben, like much of north Bali, is also terrifically low key: there are no banks, no ATMs, and only a handful of restaurants, resorts, and homestays. Upon arriving, while having lunch, McCarthy met Kedek Suteja of Aqua Dive Paradise, and soon found himself scooter-bound to Kedek’s dive center and homestay, and the relaxing reprieve quickly became a working partnership for both divers.
“I generally don’t make reservations, or plan much ahead when I travel,” said McCarthy, “I find the best and most exciting things happen when I don’t map everything out in detail.” This was true for his stay at Aqua Dive, and after getting to know Kedek and his staff, the entrepreneur soon realized he had found something special: a dive center just off the coast of world-class diving at about half of the cost of the resort-style dive centers flanking it. “Most divers [in Bali] don’t want to spend a lot of money on fancy rooms or homogenized Western fare. They want a local experience. They want to spend their money on amazing diving with local pros, not designer bath products and over-priced Nasi Goreng.”
After a chat with Kedek, McCarthy discovered that Aqua Dive had no web presence of any kind: no website, no Trip Advisor listing, no Facebook page. The resorts in town were capturing a huge portion of the market share simply because tourists couldn’t book ahead by researching Aqua Dive online. Ever the negotiator, and finding relaxation “a serious challenge,” McCarthy and Kedek struck a deal: McCarthy would build out Aqua Dive’s web marketing, and Kedek would arrange the dives.
Luckily for McCarthy, his girlfriend was busy getting her PADI certification at the center, so he had plenty of time to stay out of the afternoon sun to work, and within a few days, www.tulambendivers.com was born, complete with all of the traveler trimmings: maps, local history, email contacts—the works. Almost immediately Aqua Dive was found by Facebook fans and tourists, and McCarthy was paid with some of the best dives and equipment available, while feeding his addiction for business development.
“It’s a complete win-win,” said McCarthy, while gearing up for his last night dive at USAT Liberty, “Aqua Dive now has the web presence they need to grow, and I get to both consult and, yes, take some serious dive-time, which helps me grow too.”