If all had gone as planned for Blueseed, there would already be a cruise ship anchored 12 nautical miles off the coast of Half Moon Bay.

Up to 1,000 foreign entrepreneurs would call Blueseed home and office. Aquatic shuttles would zip across the sea taking foreigners to Silicon Valley's unique ecosystem.

All in all, it would be a clever solution to the U.S. visa shortage that makes it difficult for foreign tech entrepreneurs to work in the U.S.

Needless to say, all did not go as planned.

Silicon Valley is littered with bad ideas that get funded, good ideas that come at the wrong time, and concepts that gain a following but don't "scale," or gain traction fast enough to win over investors.

And then there is a special category -- way-out proposals that solve a problem in a novel way. They garner excitement, some money and ready customers. But for a variety of reasons, they can't get started.

Count Blueseed in that last category.

Its founders had what still is a great idea. Rather than lobby for Congress to change laws, Blueseed's founders decided to take borders and governments out of the equation and create a tech incubator in international waters. When they unveiled their idea in 2011, Blueseed became a symbol of Silicon Valley crazy ingenuity, but with a business plan. It would make money charging rent, putting on events and taking a small stake in its residents' firms.

But Blueseed has hit a wall. It needs $30 million to launch, and has had no luck raising it.

"We have potential customers," said Dario Mutabdzija, a co-founder. "We've done a lot of the R&D, what kind of ship, etc., but we haven't been able to close a really big deal with investors."

Blueseed, it turned out, is just not this boom's kind of startup.

The prevailing startup, a byproduct of the recession and the last dot-com bust, starts small and tweaks its product until it finds the right market with hockey stick growth.

"Blueseed doesn't fit into that narrative," said Mutabdzija. The ship has to start big and fully functioning from the beginning. "You don't have much opportunity to reiterate and tweak it."

Still, Blueseed piqued the interests of some investors. Mike Maples at Floodgate and Trevor Kienzle of Correlation Ventures were reportedly part of a $300,000 seed round. Neither responded to a request for comment.

Given how much money Blueseed needs, its funding challenges make sense, said Anand Sanwal, chief executive of CB Insights, a New York research firm that tracks investment in startups.

"These guys have an untested market and a team that hasn't done this before," he said. "Scalability of this concept is not clear. Is there an opportunity to have three kinds of ships? Probably not."

Mutabdzija describes himself as an optimist who keeps going back to the drawing board. The central question, he says, is "what is the minimal viable product for Blueseed?"

A smaller Blueseed, say for 100, doesn't make sense given the amount of infrastructure needed. "Why do all this for a small boat?" said Mutabdzija.

And besides, smaller vessels struggle with the biggest risk factor of them all -- Mother Nature.

"You need to have a bigger vessel to absorb the waves and wind," he said.

If he moves Blueseed to land, there is the visa issue again, and besides, it is the ship that makes Blueseed unique. That's its edge.

No, Blueseed needs money. Mutabdzija is talking to a group of Chinese investors. If not successful, he says it will be hard to go back to investors in Silicon Valley asking for funding.

Blueseed's troubles are too bad because the political landscape hasn't changed. Congress hasn't passed immigration reform or created a startup entrepreneur visa. I expect the demand for Blueseed is still strong.

"It's a valuable idea in response to a clear community need for a solution," said Craig Montuori, executive director of PolitiHacks, a nonprofit advocacy group representing early stage startups. "We're losing founders and their companies due to our immigration laws. That's a problem."

If the concept gets packed away in mothballs, it won't be the first big idea to meet such a fate.

Contact Michelle Quinn at 510-394-4196 and mquinn@mercurynews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/michellequinn.