April Fools Day – A Year In The Life Of A gCaptain

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This day last year we had much fun with our fellow bloggers at The Unofficial Coast Guard Blog hatching an April Fools Day scheme with the intent of getting you to click on this video. The headline read “gCaptain Acquired For $1.9 Million US” a sum that seemed realistic only when written on a super-sized check hand delivered by Gisele Bündchen… only in my dreams. But the truth of the past 12 months have been significantly stranger. Here is the short version of my story:

Shortly after writing the article I was asked by the supervisor of my day job, Chief Mate of a large ship, to do the unthinkable…. not log a small fire that occurred during my sleep. I had broader issues with the fire safety of this particular vessel and the safety management of my supervisors so I filed a report with my company and walked off the vessel. The company called a week later to say the fire was a non-event, I protested and soon found myself in the Emergency Room of my local hospital with symptoms “probably related to stress”. The day after my discharge a fire ignited in the engine room causing a total loss of the compartment. The Captains were commended for not injuring anyone in the response (closing the doors and igniting the CO2) and I was put on mandatory medical leave only to be fired some months later.

With extra time on my hands and a successful website to prove my “gift” for drive traffic online I started marketing my internet ability to select clients and in June was asked to help a small maritime training institute in New England increase their visibility on Google. Shortly after arriving at the school, however, I was distracted by the owner who invited me to preview a new invention they had little luck promoting… Golden Shellback. This invention let’s you water”proof” anything, yes anything. The team here at gCaptain asked to help market this amazing technology and our efforts soon paid off with featured appearances on Tekzilla, Gizmodo, CNET and even the Today Show. Licensing offers  poured and I was given the task of heading sales for the team and, thanks to a generous commission deal with the owner and verbal commitments (with nine figure amounts!) from large companies,  the $1.9 million I dreamed about in April was a fraction of my personal earning potential.

Our closest advisers and friends told us to ignore the pot of gold, that the technology’s owner had a reputation for putting the schools interests ahead of his partner’s and the big companies were incapable of taking such a risk on untested technology invented by an unknown, non-traditional entity. We ignored the advice and navigated in uncharted waters by making a deal to market and sell the technology with the single caveat… the owner would close the deals. The ride was amazing and I secured meetings, high level interest and verbal commitments from Samsung, Apple, West Marine and more.

Unfortunately our advisers where right, it’s not about the product and all about the ability of the technology owner to think big and purchasing companies that think small. Over-protection of the idea, inability to fund a true sales effort and my inexperience closing big deals led us back to the beginning… little luck in selling the product. Total compensation for our company’s months of hard work, $5,000US, less than half our invoice for our first two week’s of web development work.

Intertwined in the events was the near rescue of a fellow blogger who asked for my help during her attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean in a rowboat, alone. The discovery that a friend of and contributor for gCaptain was an infamous con artist with ties to the CIA. The near default of my mortgage rescued. The purchase of our sister site by an amazing, supportive and wealthy Silicone Valley entrepreneur. The offer, and acceptance, of a dream job overseas and the hiring of our first employee (now partner) who works tirelessly for gCaptain while waiting for his first full paycheck.

During this roller-coaster of a year only one thing has remained constant. The support of those most important in my life; my family and the members of the gCaptain community. To Cindy, Jack, Eleanor, Mike, Richard, Patrick, Timothy, our supportive advertisers and YOU, our gCaptain neighbor…. Thank You!

While the year has been eventful (just today we were awarded Best Marine Blog Of 2009!)  it’s the future that contains the most promising story. While we have yet to be cut a check of $1.9 Million (call +1-805-456-8644 if you’re interested!) we have drafted a partnership agreement with a major maritime publisher and resume our look for capital. We continue working hard not just to remain the most visited source of maritime information in the US but to become The Website For Maritime Professionals, Worldwide!

-John

Note: Many will look at today’s date, April 1st 2009, and email me asking “Is this story true?”. I welcome all emails and I do my best to write personal responses but, to save us both time, my response to this question will be: In the immortal words of Robert Ripley “Believe It Or Not!”.