Why the Turtle is Our Spirit Animal


Fred Perrotta

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Jeremy and I were inspired to start Tortuga on a backpacking trip to Eastern Europe. We talked about our dream luggage on long train rides from Frankfurt to Prague to Budapest to Split and back.

By the end of the trip, we were already thinking of names for our imaginary company.

Jeremy suggested "tortuga," the Spanish word for turtle, because a turtle carries everything it needs on its back. I conceded that "tortuga" was better than my suggestion: hermit crab.

We also liked that Tortuga was a foreign word, suggesting international travel, but still easily pronounced and remembered by English speakers.

This story is the one that I tell people who ask about our company name.

Over time, the turtle has become an even more appropriate mascot for the company.

Turtles are a popular symbol in many cultures because they can be found almost anywhere on earth. They are popular in origin myths like the World Turtle and represent traits from cleverness to tenacity.

In Chinese culture, turtles represent longevity, because of their long lifespans.

A turtle's longevity is now the symbol that Tortuga identifies with the most.

The tortoise, from Aesop's Tortoise and the Hare fable, represents our approach to Tortuga as a company: slow and steady.

We often talk of "playing the long game." We plan for the highest upside in the long run, not just for tomorrow.

Living in the Bay Area, I'm surrounded by hares. Founders raise money to grow as quickly as possible then try to flip their company to the highest bidder. If the company lasts until an IPO, it's then managed with a short-term, next-quarter mentality like all public companies.

Whenever I'm distracted by the "success porn" of fundraising and fawning press coverage in tech, I look at my turtle talismans for a reminder of what we're building at Tortuga and why it's so unique.