My friendship with Travis McCrea came at a time back in the Limestone City when I really needed a rock, business or otherwise. Someone motivated who could carry a conversation. Someone with great stories and even greater humor. And there he popped, into the friend requests; a mutual friend of a girl friend and a fascinating entrepreneur from the get-go.
Plus, he’s a pirate. YARR.
Say “Hi!” Travis!
Hi, my name is Travis McCrea and I am a pilot, political activist (Leader of the Pirate Party of Canada) and a business owner.
How did your journey into those titles begin?
Well, in reverse order, I have been selling things since as long as I can recall. I remember being in elementary school and our teacher had a system that would reward us with these tokens when we did something good and we could save up our tokens and get little trinkets.
I also learned in previous years that you could draw something on paper, then cover it in crayon and then reveal it by scratching off the crayon. So I started a mini-gambling operation where I would have a bunch of tickets and people would buy them and scratch them off and see if they could win more. Not my first foray in business but that was classic young-Travis.
& your political activism?
I am a political activist focusing on internet security and civil liberties because I have to be. I am educated in a highly technical field, while also frequently an idiot, which allows me to really teach people these technical issues in a way they understand.
I would rather just drink cider, play hockey and fly my plane. I have to be in politics because I am the best person to do it.
How did being a pilot come into all this?
Realistically, I had been really lucky that I was able to stumble into being a successful business owner through my parents, through my education, through the circumstances around me that I was able to make enough money to become a pilot.
Somehow building websites and doing internet things pays a lot of money. I would have done it anyway, turns out it also pays well.
What’s your successful business?
I run a large ebook website which is like a YouTube for ebooks! It’s really great authors upload their books and it lets people find them and really get a wide variety of content.
The website is called Ebook Bike, and has been in the top 20,000 viewed websites on the internet, which doesn’t sound like much until you realize just how many websites are on the internet that people use daily.
What’s one of your favourite career milestones or projects?
I ran for parliament in 2011, and the paper who put on one of the debates said I “worked the room like Oprah” and it made me really happy.
Anyone in the tech or internet world who inspires you?
I barely do pomp and circumstance, I really don’t do inspirations. There are people I learn from; I read every book that Cory Doctorow writes, and everyone should read Little Brother and Makers.
I am inspired by the people who just get out there and do what they love. Steve Thorne from Flight Chops, a video series about a guy who shares his adventures flying planes. People like PrintableHeroes who makes free paper miniatures for Dungeons and Dragons people and knew just make good stuff and then figure out the business model later. It’s people like you, Casey, who just go out into the world not entirely sure what impact your going to make but knowing you are going to do something, knowing that things can be better and do whatever you can do to help it get there. That’s what I get excited about, those are the people who keep me going.
Can you describe a typical day in the life of Travis?
My life is largely social media. I would say on Twitter and Facebook, I spend probably 8-10 hours per day. I also will go to the gym and sometimes do a session of bath coding (which is exactly what it sounds like). It’s not overly exciting but I would guess most people have pretty standard routines with their work.
How does being in Vancouver influence your initiatives?
If I say Vancouver is the greatest city in Canada, it will only re-enforce the stereotypes of us and also make me look like a jerk. The truth is, however, that while Canada is a fantastic country from coast to coast (to coast), I believe Vancouver to be the shining beacon of what Canada can be and the culture of Vancouver to almost be a beacon of what Vancouver itself can be. We are so close to being great but still held back by the past a little bit.
One of the things I do take into consideration, “how can I make Vancouver even better?” Before, I had been working on an app that would help people with CPR skills be able to find people in cardiac arrest and provide CPR until an ambulance came. Sadly, they stopped using the radio frequencies we monitored to be able to determine that.
Vancouver is beauty, it’s nature, it’s culture all together. There are cities that do specific things better, I would never challenge Montreal’s culture to Vancouver’s, and there are many beautiful cities in Canada but Vancouver is the best (in my opinion) mixture of them all. It’s a reminder to be multi-disciplined and to focus on both the substance and the looks to have something that comes together into a single beautiful operation.
Any goals on your list for the future?
Keep doing what I’m doing and when an opportunity arises, never be afraid to say “yes,” be willing to sacrifice the now for a more awesome later.
Pending some kind of technological crisis, if you could only visit three websites for the rest of your life, which would you pick?
Facebook, Wikipedia, and Youtube, excluding thought exercise breaking answers like Google and a proxy website. I might have used Twitter instead of Facebook but Facebook is much more likely to still exist in 5 years than Twitter is.
Wikipedia, because having access to the near collective sum of human knowledge seems like a good thing to have, and YouTube because the kind of things I might want to learn that wouldn’t be on Wikipedia are almost certainly on YouTube.