I often think about what I’d be doing if I’d been born a hundred years ago, trying to settle on the closest match to my work in startups today.
At the moment, I think the closest match would be working in the tea or spice trade.
Those huge, fast tea clippers were the startups of their day — speculative, venture-backed, finding new things consumers might want to buy. Trying to get them to market quicker, cheaper and smarter than the competitors.
A constant, insane arms race to create a better hull design, hold storage, mast and sail engineering, navigation aids. A feverish, semi-secret trade in maps, in scraps of news, market intel and trading relationships.
Not above a little piracy, if necessary to keep the whale oil lamps lit and bellies full.
Very likely to not make it back. Could just disappear, never to be seen again.
If you made it back, your share could make you rich. Even as a lowly sailor you could be wealthy for life from the proceeds of just one adventure.
If you could make it back.
Aye. I’d have been a sailor.
(Prompted by my comment on this story by Stuart Hall)