Getting closer to be the next startup mecca

Peter Diamandis had asked this week “Where do you think the next mecca for tech startups will be?”.

I doubt if Mecca is an appropriate synonym, but my response has been: “The next mecca for tech startups needs tropical lifestyle, more favourable immigration and tax rules. How about ?”

And I mean it. You just don’t have to have everything together in one place anymore.

Technology creates conditions, overcoming obstacles to create technology.

Skype, Hangout, Facetime enable people to work together, no matter where.

Freelancer.com and others find outsourced capacity for almost every job imaginable.

Kickstarter.com and others facilitate project funding.

Codepath.com does free education for Android and iOS coding.

WeWork.com has temporary space to meet, hang around and work with peers.

So if everybody can take advantage of technological progress as mentioned, the general, surrounding conditions become more important: quality of life.

What else do we need here in Panama?

– Transform a crazy idea into a bold target,

– Get the right people together

– Build and work an actionable plan.

#exPANAMAnding opportunities

WWDC and Panama

Was following Apple’s developer conference today and must admit that the amount of $30b paid to app developers is staggering. There must be many more app developers out there and more than surviving with what they are doing. Excellent to hear this.

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Wondering how many of them are doing their creative work outside of old-fashioned corporate structures, not bound by work hours, a desk, a hierarchy.

For those, lucky enough to enjoy such status, my advise is to get even more enjoyment. Move to a country where the sun is shining, the Web infrastructure is available, where bureaucracy doesn’t care too much, and where there are excellent investment opportunities for the money you’ve earned.

#exPANAMAnding opportunities.

The really important ranking has Panama as #1

There are so many rankings out there. Best place to live, best place to work, best place to retire, best place to be buried etc. Often with laughable results.

Gallup and Healthways have now published The Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index. On 124 pages their scientific methodology is described and results shown, highlighting continents and countries. Well worth reading. (here)

There are five categories contributing to our overall well-being:

– job / purpose

– social

– community

– physical

– financial

Panama became #1, the only country where more than 60% of people are predominantly happy in more than 3 of these 5 categories. Actually, they are happy in 4 of them, except finance.

I am glad to see this and it explains why so many people walking the streets are just smiling at you. And drivers almost never honk their horn, show a finger or so.

This is where countries like Germany are leading, but not even reaching the top ten altogether. Even worse, in Germany 24% of employed people indicate to be actively “disengaged” in their professional position.

How about living and doing business in the land of well-being?

Panama is growing strongly, on its way to improve the financial situation for the average and poor people. So in 10 years from now, they’ll still lead but be happy in each of 5 categories. Good luck.

What Panama has to offer Silicon Valley companies, benefitting both

Upcoming countries, like Panama, have to figure out how to become and stay competitive in the future.

The Panama Canal with logistics, a solid financial sector, mining and tourism are already in place and growing. Starting a business is easy to do.

facebook.com/canaldepanama

facebook.com/canaldepanama

But how about high tech and a way to prepare the younger generation? Panama should seriously consider high-tech initiatives.

Of course, there is no way to copy something like the “Valley”. It has been tried already. But Panama is ideal to become a SECOND HOME & BOOTCAMP FACILITY for SV companies. And a super-affordable springboard for hightech startups anyway.

City of Knowledge, a special economic zone at the banks of the Panama Canal, only 15 minutes from downtown PanamaCity, is the right place to begin with.

City of Knowledge PTY

City of Knowledge PTY

Stay tuned how this project goes along.

Better weather

In 2000, Dr. David Viner, a climatologist with CRU said: “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.”

CNN today, 15 years later: “Boston has its snowiest month on record.” (since 1872)

Panama today: Another fine day, 30C/86F and sunshine.

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Could be your place to relax or to develop some ideas. All year round. Walking the beach is my preferred activity to think about issues and come up with fresh ideas.

Or take a small plane, head South over the Pacific Ocean and enjoy Las Perlas Archipelago views and beaches after less than 30 minutes. There are 7 airstrips on different islands to choose from.

Las Perlas island

Tropical lifestyle comes with a much better and healthy work-life balance.

And, don’t worry about snowfalls.

Headstart into 2015

As our concept is taking shape, we are going further now and are on Twitter @luckxinvest and with #exPANAMAnding as hashtag, which means the Silicon Valley. Earlier posts should have given a first impression about it and we’ll continue to work it out.

A German saying goes like “better poor and healthy than rich and sick”. What stupid alternatives. Everybody would rather decide for “better rich and healthy than poor and sick”, and even add some more positives.

So it is with some things around Silicon Valley.

Imagine, being a young software developer and to solve the immigration problem, you are supposed to live on a cruiseship out in the Northern Pacific. Really? Maybe nice for some days in July and August, but definitely not today, not during the last 5 months and not during the next 4 months.

The alternative is tropical Panama, surfing and margarita season all year round. That’s a productivity booster, believe me. So the immigration issue gets solved not by sacrifying, but optimizing.

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There are some other problems better to be solved by optimizing instead of sacrifying. Some are mentioned in earlier posts.

If you like this approach, please follow and share and comment.

Thank you.

Earthquakes here and there

Tuesday morning at 4, a swinging movement woke us up in our 11th floor condo. For about 30 seconds the ground was shaking, smooth but very remarkable. 6.7 as USGS told us and 280 km away.

The first one we’ve experienced in Panama 2009 was pushing harder and moved us newcomers out. As the only ones.

In the meantime, earthquakes like in Colombia and Guatemala have left asking ourselves if there was “too much alcohol last night?” or “not enough water this morning?”, before USGS gave the true reason for the dizzy feeling.

So our earthquake experience during 6 years in Panama has been tranquilo. Confirmed by, yes, USGS again. Here’s the picture:

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Looking good, whereby the diameter stands for strength and the data begun as late as of 1973.

Same timeframe for California looks like this:

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Well, there has been more action, right where the action is – Silicon Valley area. This, by the way, has been a selling point of Texas-based Rackspace.com in their early years and worked out nicely: Put your servers where there are no earthquakes.

How about your talents?

First things first

What a coincidence: While our friends told us about the first first 25 cm of snow near Toronto today, the Playa Blanca Airport had the first arrival of a Sunwing 737 from Montreal.

From now on, the Playa Blanca Airport (MPSM) will receive 2 Canadian charterflights per week and a third one from Quebec is scheduled from mid of December. Just the right time to get out of the cold.

Also this week, United has announced a new service from Denver to Panama City (MPTO), starting December 3. Becoming more and more easy to come to Panama.

The FAT CAt is killing your business opportunities – but there is a solution

Even if the headline looks funny, it is not. For decades now, entrepreneurs from all over have gone West, to build their business in the Silicon Valley, in NYC, Boston, Austin or elsewhere. Many still do so.

However, the way how the United States is nowadays treating their citizens or people with a greencard or other form of visa is very disturbing.

All over the world, these persons, once welcomed and respected, are now knocking on closed doors of banks and employers. What a change.

It’s all about FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act – Uncle Sam’s way to make every bank employee in the world an unpaid IRS agent.

When I opened a bank account days ago, here in Panama, there is a mandatory questionnaire to fill out, assuring your bank that you are not a trouble maker with a blue U.S. passport, a green card, a U.S. visa or even having spent more than 182 days in god’s own country. A formula is applied to the number of days spent during the last 3 years, in order to figure out if you are a risk, they may reject or charge more fees.

I am quite sure, right now, there are entrepreneurs out there, thinking about their plans to move business to the U.S., but do not want to end up under such a rigid regime for decades to come.

Here’s my recommendation: Come to Panama.

This blog has some posts describing the business environment and how life is here. Save your business a lot of money and enjoy a tropical lifestyle instead. Settle in a special economic zone and earn foreign income tax-free. Good for your business, right?

An increasing number of global leaders are establishing their regional or global HQ in Panama. What’s good for them is most likely good for your business too.

Try something new. Come to Panama.

Visiting 2 oceans within 2 hours

Try this from San Francisco.

In Panama it’s a piece of cake. What was planned as a roundtrip does look more like rectangular, doesn’t it?

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It’s one of not so many days during the rainy season in Panama, when Caribbean and Pacific coast are both and between available for VFR (visual flight rules). Today it is.

Our FlightDesign CTLS LSA (light sport aircraft) takes off from Chame (MP24), few miles only from the Pacific coast. Wind from South today, so it’s runway 18 on this non-towered airport. We need to coordinate with 2 SENAN (coast guard/boarder patrol) helicopters doing training.

When airborne, we turn North and contact Panama Radio. We have submitted a flight plan already as we are kind of surrounding Panana City with 3 international airports: MPTO, MPMG and MPPA.

Got our squawk code and are handed over to Panama Advisory. When reaching FL55 (5,500 ft) we are already over Lake Gatun, which is a significant part of the Panama Canal passage. Watching ships on their way and assembling on both sides of Gatun Locks. The old ones, in 24/7 operation since 100 years, and the new ones under construction, to double transit capacity from early 2016. Impressive.

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Then the city of Colon, Atlantic-side entrance of the Panama Canal and home of the second largest free zone, after Hongkong. Colon’s airport (MPEJ) is a waypoint to overfly today.

Now we are flying along the Caribbean coast of Panama, still under-developed, but not for long anymore. Clouds are building over the rainforest and we climb to 7,500 feet now. This leg, as the other ones too, is approx. 50 nautical miles long.

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Next waypoint is El Provenir, a settlement on few small islands, and even the airport is on an island. Runway is 400 m and this place cannot be reached by land. As these pictures look, it goes along the coast for another 120 km, into Colombia. Islands, palms, sand, seafood. A true natural paradise, which we will overfly the next time, but low and check out all the airstrips along the way.

Now we turn South, leaving Caribbean/Atlantic behind and climb to 9,500 ft because of clouds. It takes time for our Rotax 912 engine at this altitude and still 57F outside. New course: Las Perlas Archipelago, Pacific Ocean. And after a few minutes we can already see these islands ahead.

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Weather is perfect, the views are amazing. Landing on Isla Contadora (MPRA), out of the plane and straight into Gerald’s garden restaurant. Watching hummingbirds, enjoying super-fresh seafood, talking with our hosts. What a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.

Now it’s high tide and the beach is only 200 meters aways. White sand, turquoise clear water to the ground. Turn on your back, close your eyes and drift for an hour.

Getting ready for the last leg. Another 50 nautical miles westward to Chame, our homebase. At 4,500 ft towards the sinking sun. A lonesome container ship is on its way to the canal, and already descending we take another picture of Punta Chame.

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Departed 10:40 from Chame, arrived 12:50 at Isla Contadora. Up again at 15:55 and arrival in Chame at 16:40 local time. Per Foreflight planning it was 204 nautical miles but we took several detours because of clouds or to slowly descend into Las Perlas. Closer to 450 km probably, burning 13.5 galons of 95 autogas. Gas for US$50, food for US$35 … total of $85 for visiting 2 oceans. Not bad, right?

Most of the journey we have been on the radio with and on the screen of Panama Advisory, coordinating our flight with some other traffic this morning. They were, as always, doing a great job, taking care in a friendly and professional way.

Gracias amigos.