WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE EMERGENT CRISIS HITS THE FAN?
You know that we here at the Mountaintop Marketing Fortress are great admirers of breakthrough business models.
We will not use the phrase, "Outside the box." That phrase has become so overused, it is inside the box at the center.
That notwithstanding, one of those breakthrough business models hit me in the face in the wake of hurricane Irma.
I was sitting in my office, reading the news about the devastation in the Caribbean.
This was my old stomping grounds. During part of my misspent 20s, I worked aboard big boats that sailed the Caribbean, among other places.
So, as the news reports are rolling in, I'm wondering, What the heck?
WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT THIS?
Homes and businesses leveled.
A friend's parents' house in Tortola is one of the mere 20% of structures left standing on that island.
The little island of Barbuda is uninhabited for the first time in 4,000 years. The entire population just up and left. Civilization there is gone.
Luxury resorts and charter-yacht fleets that were the economic fuel for local populations have been blown apart and scattered like kindling.
What do you do? Where do you begin?
AND ALMOST AS A RABBIT FROM A STORM-BLOWN HAT...
The answer landed in my Facebook instant message feed.
A yacht captain who lives in Antigua, an affable Brit with whom I had sailed years ago, sent a link to a non-profit that blew my socks off.
Not that you wear socks in Antigua.
But I'm in the mountain west. I'm prepared to wear socks.
I was unprepared for something that was such a natural fit, it made me wonder, How the heck did this not happen decades earlier?
It took someone with the right connections, and a little bit of thinking outside the boat.
YES, THE BOAT
Or, more accurately, the boats, plural.
The big, private boats that often use the Caribbean islands as their cruising grounds.
We're talking about the boats of the superwealthy, known in the industry as Superyachts.
These enormous yachts are more than the stuff of luxury St. Tropez daydreams and Hollywood movies.
Superyachts are businesses, operated by people who earn salaries.
These vessels are also underutilized by the people who own them.
What it took was an entrepreneur who has a support business that serves Superyachts to look at these underutilized assets and think, Here's an opportunity to do a lot of good.
YACHTAID GLOBAL WAS BORN
Yacht owners volunteer their vessels.
Yacht crews volunteer their time.
And the result is a de facto worldwide fleet of boats, and a crew of volunteers, ready to deliver humanitarian aid at any time.
Since 2006, YachtAid Global (known as YAG) has delivered relief to 50 locations in 20 countries via 40 superyachts and 400 volunteer crew members.
They work with other non-profit organizations, in-country connections, and NGOs.
And the work in the Caribbean has begun.
The volunteers are contacting yachts, obtaining relief supplies, managing logistics, and getting stuff where it needs to be.
IT'S IMPRESSIVE AND INSPIRING
Last week, I spoke to the two people spearheading the operation out of Atlanta.
It was about 5pm their time.
One of them had just gotten around to eating breakfast.
While we were talking, the other volunteer had to put me on hold.
He was taking a call from a Disaster Aid Response Team, comprised of former special forces soldiers, who were on the ground in storm-thrashed Turks and Caicos.
People are volunteering their time, doing good and making stuff happen in short order.
THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS WHAT THEY SEEM
Many people see a yacht, and they see conspicuous consumption gone wild.
Typically, aside from an extraordinary feat of marine architecture and engineering, I see a microeconomic system that fuels the livelihoods of hundreds of people.
There's easily a couple of million bucks a year spent on maintaining and staffing that vessel.
That's a whole lot of income feeding and housing a whole lot of families.
But now, that vision has been supplemented by the potential for a charitable juggernaut that can move aid quickly, getting food, water and shelter to families in need, and getting it to the hard-to-reach places where it needs to be.
Super yachts doing supergood? Mmm...maybe we'll work on that.
In the meantime, if you're interested in knowing more, you can find them at http://yachtaidglobal.org
AND WHILE WE'RE SPEAKING OF THE CARIBBEAN...
Back in the spring, we talked about a breakout small business brand in St. Thomas called Pizza Pi. (Yes, that's P-I, "pi," as in the mathematical constant. The owners are certifiably smart people, and one of them went to MIT.)
Ranked on Trip Advisor as the #1 restaurant in the U.S. Virgin islands, Pizza Pi is a boat that anchors in Christmas Cove, dispensing gourmet pizzas to boaters in the area.
Pizza Pi was closed for the summer season, and Chef Tara and Capt. Sasha were off St. Thomas when the storms ripped through.
Reports are that their vessel is alive. It had been hauled for the season, and despite some damage to the rig, the overall outlook is good.
Also, Chef Tara is one of the organizers of a GoFundMe campaign to aid residents of the Virgin Islands. Funds are directed specifically to the USVI. More info at https://www.gofundme.com/us-virgin-islands-irma-relief-fund
In the wake of the storms, no matter where you are, here's to plenty of water under your keel.
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
Blaine Parker helps people sell their stuff. An advertising Creative Director and Copywriter at Slow Burn Marketing, he specializes in big-brand thinking for small-business marketing. He has the voice of a much taller man.