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working on a cruise hip

written by
Will Villa
copyright by sqrz

I built my company whilst living on cruise ships

Well, it was more of a constant on-and-off thing. In the beginning, the contracts were half a year, but after getting promoted it became easier to find more flexible work arrangements so that I could find time to dedicate to my own mission: building a digital agency.


First, a short about me section, so you get the bigger picture.
I have dedicated my life to music and technology, started as a DJ before I became a sound engineer and a producer. But I also always wanted to build my own company and products, I just didn't know how.

I met cruise ship life for the first time during a vacation wandering down the Santa Monica pier. 
I was wondering, what would somebody like me have to do, to be able to come to America and build a company.
I thought, well first of all I will need some money 💰 
My side job at the call center wouldn't cut it, and from my DJ and sound gigs, I couldn't save up enough for this big step. Walking on that beach I saw these gigantic ships entering the harbor and thought they might need music, right?

After I arrived back home I started researching how to get a job on a cruise ship and I swear the following story is true (and Kai is my witness).
In the same week, I had my Interview, a Chinese fortune cookie marked these words: You're going on a cruise 🚢 

So a few weeks later I embarked. It was adventure pure. But first, I had to get certified.
The course went on for a week, learning about safety training, and jumping into the cold German Ostsee in January with a suite. It keeps you warm enough, but these are training suits, so they do have some holes...
We also learned how to put off a fire and we slept on a little wooden ship near the school.

Then I took off to Singapore. The first day on this immense Ship after the long flight, is like landing on another planet, a pretty busy one...
Doing the job you're hired to do is the easy part. The more intense experience is the whole co-living & co-working 24/7 for months at a time.
Sharing a cabin and working 13/14 hours on a regular day, there was zero privacy.

Luckily after getting a promotion, I was finally able to get a single cabin. After all, I wanted to build my business and so I would need time and space to work on my computer.
During that time I released some music and became more efficient in content marketing.
But it was hard to keep up with a regular production schedule. I spent my time off in Colombia, Spain and ultimately I arrived in New York, where things started to take off. My Visa would not allow me to work and I could only stay for a few months, so I had to make the investment worthy. 
During this time I started digging deeper into the venture capital world, and while this might be a world that is very far-fetched from our regular business life, it was very appealing to learn about economics, business development, human resources, and more. 
I wondered how to apply these concepts to the music industry. In my opinion, the music business is still way too focused on making money from music...but that's a topic for another blog post. 

Well, back on the ship, finally I had gone through the incorporation of the business entity. With all my traveling this was all very tedious, I would definitely recommend having a stable office, but that was not something I could afford. 
But finally, I could get work done from the ship. The internet is pretty bad on the cruise and it's not free, so I always had the hassle of arriving at a port and firstly searching for a cheap internet connection. When we cruised in Europe it was easier to have a SIM that would be able to connect me anywhere except at sea. But in other regions, it is more difficult to get a cellphone plan that allows you to do this. 
Anyway, finally I could start connecting my Shopify, my web pages, and everything I owned to the business. But as mentioned it was still hard to work efficiently. 

Just around this time all of a sudden global events would change the situation. Actually, I was back in NY, when I decided to leave from one day to another. Scared of what would happen next I flew back to Germany when the lockdowns started. 
All businesses practically shut down and global trade would become uncertain. What a great moment to start a company....

Admittedly this was all a pretty scary moment, and luckily I had support from family. I had a house to call home and while it was hard to get started, I had the chance to improve my development skills and release our first websites. They were not that great, but I had embarked on a never-ending mission.

After lockdowns ended I went back to sea for a while. Getting back after so long was exciting and depressing at the same time. As mentioned the internet situation used to be pretty bad (things have gotten better today) and as I was in my mission to build a digital startup, having no access to the internet was a real setback. 
So I just had to wait for a while and try to focus on the tasks that I could perform. 

Back home in early 2022 I finally had my first working app. They were still not that great, but they were actually working. I knew I could keep going and eventually, it would work. Went back to sea for some short contracts, so that I could save up some cash to get back to programming. 

Today I look back and think I couldn't have found a more unintuitive way to build this company. But it worked. My apps are getting traction, and my development skills have gotten so much better. Also as technology improves, no-code movements, AI apps, and ChatGPT, all make our lives easier. 
I look forward to seeing how this company will keep growing. As for now, I am not going back to Sea, except for emergency jump Ins, but they only come every once in a while. Meanwhile, I will keep recruiting technicians who are interested in ship life, or tour life on land. 

If you have a similar experience please share it with me.



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