The question to ask about vaguely startup-y summer camps like Summit Series is not what are they, but rather why they exist. This Utah glamping trip, for example, helped entice rich techies to pay for a plot of land on a mountain. In the case of TEDx Adventure: The Jungle, it's a sales pitch for a time share (of sorts) in the Panamanian rainforest.
Only you'll need a decoder ring to figure that out from The Next Web's Kool-aid soaked dispatch.
Our journey to Central America is narrated by Courtney Boyd Myers, who fits right in on the globe-trotting-thinkfluencers-with-iterating-job-descriptions circuit.
Myers says that "100 entrepreneurs, artists, environmentalists, and yogis" made the trip to learn more about founder Jimmy Stice and his plan to turn Kalu Yalu, a settlement in the Pananamian rainforest, "into a real community." Can one be the "founder" of 555 acres of jungle? I guess if you've got investors, throw in some startup jargon, and have the blessing of TEDx:
"We are a community that is always in beta, that's how you get things done," says Kalu Yala's founder Jimmy Stice. [...]
With $3.5 million raised in private investment from friends and family, Stice plans to scale Kalu Yalu into a a town big enough to host a population of over 10,000. [...]
Stice purchased the land in 2008, and accepted his last investment check in 2010. Since then, Kalu Yalu has developed Panama's most popular internship program, regularly welcoming students each semester who help build up the tiny town.
Those 100 or so "movers and shakers" only paid $600 for this trip to Panama, which was sponsored by a bunch of companies you've never heard (except Patagonia). Did they actually help "build up the tiny town"? You won't find any answers in the video above, which feels more like a Kashi commercial.
But turn down the worldpop soundtrack and blur out the Burning Man references and Stice's mission suddenly becomes clear:
Construction on the first home will begin in May of this year and is expected to reach completion by the end of the year. The team will then continue to build 20 houses per year starting in 2015.
All investors in Kalu Yalu must also be homeowners in the Founder's Village, something Stice calls "Citizen Equity."
"We're doing this to prevent people from investing on the belief they'll be able to extract money from the community without being part of that community," he says. The Founder's Village will hold up to 180 homes, small cottages on 1/10th of an acre.
When asked who Stice wants as part of the Kalu Yala community, he says it's all about "radical inclusivity" with "high levels of self selection."
"I want to make Kalu Yala as accessible as possible to absolutely anyone without compromising quality, and by quality I mean the ethics of my supply chain, and environmental and social impact," he says.
At the moment, you can bring your own tent and pay $8 per night to camp, but eventually you'll be able to purchase a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom house for $250,000, all in.
There you have it. Videos of good-looking young people under waterfalls and a headline like "In the heart of the Panamanian jungle, a startup village grows," is what you need to put
butts citizens in the seats.
"This is why entrepreneurship is so important to us," says Stice. "It's not just about a 12 year old boy's dreams, getting my friends jobs in the jungle and offering great tourism for the families from Wall Street. It's about creating a place to develop solutions to our tropical world's issues, and creating a place that will thrive for many centuries to come."
I dunno, the jobs in the jungle/Wall Street line sounded more convincing to me. Maybe try it on the secessionists?
To contact the author of this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.