n pitch darkness I scrambled up and along a tropical path from the beach to the ridge, my arm outstretched anticipating poisonous spiders, the fading light from my headtorch illuminating my trepidation more than the way. Sweating and increasingly breathless bearing an electronics-filled rucksack I kept pushing-on and hoping I was going the right way; then I arrived at a fork in the path and couldn’t remember what Martin had said. What was the name of the town I needed to get to where I’d call for a taxi to the airport? A few days earlier I’d arrived on the small Sea Ranch Beach by private ferry, and now – with a flight too early to do a circular route via HK Island – I was hiking over Lantau island at 5am. We’d wanted something different for our 3 days of workshops, somewhere inspiring and remote from the distractions of the city, and we’d certainly found it.
The day before we were dressed-up smartly and tripping around HK from business centre to bank to bar, founding and funding our start-up before tipping a glass and emptying a bottle of wine at the heel of IFC Tower 1. Martin’s other company – Spacetime – is also handled by Bridges so we felt assured to be in capable and caring hands. In the event the treatment wasn’t stellar and Fabrizio almost gesticulated his coffee cup off the table when he tasted the freeze-dried solution we were offered. We’re pretty humble for the most part, but a decent cup of coffee goes a long way. Crappy coffee absorbed all paperwork soon signed and Artha is….
Two days earlier we were floating in the sea and watching the jet-propelled money boats ferrying punters back and forth from Macau casinos – a bit of exercise before a morning of business modelling. We’d already largely refined what our software would do, and now we needed to look more closely at how we’d fund its development and get it to users. Martin gave us a great workshop on canvas and soon we had a lot of numbers and a lot more direction.
Three days earlier we cut ourselves off from the outside world till dinner time and redecorated the living room of the AirBnB apartment with static notes and marker pen schematics on 70s-chic ceiling to floor mirrors. Weeks of discussions and writings were percolated, condensed, and reprocessed as we clarified the core facets of our app and how we should make it work. A lot of coffee was also consumed, and luncheon meat grilled sandwiches eaten standing and hovering as we took a working break outdoors before retreating back to AC for the afternoon session. As the sun went down, and we slouched on the front of the little ferry heading to *island* for dinner, we were pretty satisfied that the essence of our app was more or less crystallised.
Four days earlier I watched Martin and Fabrizio walking across the arrivals hall, sweaty and a little late, big grins and something reflecting my own expectations for the coming days. ‘You looka like a army man-a’ Fabrizio laughed at my habitual and many-pocketed travel wear. ‘Sorry we’re late’ Martin apologised ‘No taxis, no buses, and we had to trek over the island’. At that stage I wondered if their tardiness wasn’t from setting out late. Now, four days later, as I reached the ridge and the sun started to rise, I realised that their sweatiness stemmed from a near-heroic effort to meet me at the airport. And sure, there may have been a less effortful way to get to that early flight, but I doubt a better one.