A Conversation With The Co-Creator of WiFi Tribe

Sample intro. Intro to be completed soon.


Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious. Adventurous. Focused  (with tunnel vision).

 

How have some of these words played into your journey of creating Wifi Tribe

Ambition is one of the good ones to start with.

I was trying to build a start-up for three years. It was going from one failure to the next. It was around 2012 and start ups were booming. Media made us believe that one should start a company. I subscribed to that idea just like everyone else. It was that idea of “if I work hard today, tomorrow will be amazing.”

When that happens every day, you begin to think, when is “tomorrow going to come?”

I noticed I wasn’t actually moving forward with a career. I soon said enough with forcing this start-up stuff, and I became a freelancer – making sure I could pay all of the bills I needed. Then I focused on creating the lifestyle that I wanted.

I asked myself, “What are the things I need when starting the lifestyle I want?”

  1. Travel
  2. Like-minded people: people who have passion, curiosity, and people who wanted to truly live.
  3. The ability to keep working – if you have the first two, you can travel.

If you can add work to all of that, then it’s a real lifestyle. My ambition led me through this journey.

Where did the concept of this community come from?

As I said before, I was really trying to create a lifestyle I wanted.

I’m half-German and half-Bolivian, so I had an open house in Bolivia. I emailed one hundred friends, and I told them to come over and experience this house. If they had work to bring, great!

I met Julia, who had been working remotely for a while. She loved South Africa; she had been there for ages. She asked, “can we turn this into something more?” Three weeks before our flight to Bolivia, we set up a website and posted it into Facebook groups. Then, before we knew it, we had a few more people who joined us on the trip. Here’s the crazy thing: we put this out to people for free!

For the first time, I wasn’t trying to just create a business to create a business… it was the first time that I created something that I wanted to exist.

We gave it another shot, and Julia recommended Costa Rica. We looked for houses there. Basically, without Airbnb we wouldn’t be here. We fell in love with a place we thought was in Costa Rica. It turns out it wasn’t in Costa Rica… it was actually in Nicaragua. We immediately though, “Looks like we’re going to Nicaragua!” We used Facebook ads, and we got the next chapter in Nicaragua full… and paid for.

Up until that point, this was all just a side thing. Julia and I just kept on going… one more location…one more location. Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Bali. Four years later, this has become the business I think I was looking for this whole time. For the first time, I wasn’t trying to just create a business to create a business… it was the first time that I created something that I actually wanted to exist.

What are a few things you’ve noticed have led to a rise of that #remotelife?

Two things: One is push. The other is pull.

PUSH

On the side of the push… what’s pulling people to want this lifestyle?

All the people who have managed to get themselves to work remotely probably also have social media accounts. With each post they share, 500 to 1000 people see this, which inspires others. Although there are a small portion of people who live this way, their “push” is so big because of their presence on social media, which leads everyone to think that working remotely is a “thing.”

PULL

The pull is that companies are seeing other companies use remote work as a way to better attract insane talent. A fantastic example is Buffer [a social media management software] – every position gets around 10,000 applications. They’ve nailed that combination of good salary, good culture, and remote life. Companies are pulling themselves to get people to work remotely. Initially, companies could afford to give you one of those things [salary, culture, or remote life]. But there’s a turning point – when enough companies adapt the remote lifestyle, it’s no longer a benefit to offer remote opportunities, it becomes a disadvantage when you don’t do it.

 

It’s no longer a benefit to offer remote opportunities, it becomes a disadvantage when you don’t do it.

I’ve been working remotely for two years, and one of my least favorite parts about it is often feeling lonely. Is it too late for someone like me to join Wifi Tribe?

There is no time limit.

There’s a ton of different versions of lifestyles and age groups that decide to plug themselves into this life. Many are just starting out, although a large portion of our community are people who have been traveling and working remotely for a while. That’s partially because many of them have worked remotely for a bit, then realized that it can get lonely. When living abroad or someone where temporarily, no matter how outgoing you are, the people you meet are going to leave your life as quickly as you met them. The whole point of this is to replicate the community you have at home and to bring it on the road with you, so the digital lifestyle can be something that is sustainable.

There are people who have been doing this for 3 years with Wifi Tribe. As for the different stages, the majority of people of ages 24-38. In terms of professions, the most represented ones are marketers, writers, editors, all the way to professional poker players and electronic music producers. The only requirement is to bring work with you.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Tomas Laurinavicius

What do you think the “remote work” industry will look like in 5 years, and how do you hope to influence it?

Remote work is already becoming mainstream in the USA. What’s more exciting is to see the rest of the world coming into remote work. The first places to really follow suit will be in Europe, Asia, and and a few countries in Latin America in the next 5-10 years. There will be more diversity in who we see engaging in remote work. Companies will begin to appreciate talent and realize that “remote” is not the only factor.

Wifi Tribe is currently working on a huge project – a 4 Week Business Incubator.

We’re calling it Remote in 60 Days.

The Remote in 60 Days scholarship will offer agencies or freelancers to start their business remotely. This will start with a month in Brazil where they will be trained – then they will spend a month in Peru, where they will work towards building their business from what they learned in Brazil.

The scholarship will up $10,000 because it includes:

  • Two Wifi Tribe chapters in Brazil and Peru
  • Flights and accommodation
  • A week in between for travel
  • 1-on-1 mentorship

That is ultimately one of the things we’d like to focus on. It’s something tangible we can do. We’d like to help people with the conversations they have with their employers to help them go remote.

 


What are a few words of advice for recent college graduates who want to become remote workers but are a bit scared of taking a leap?

  1. Firstly, go read The No Bullshit Guide to Finding Digital Work!
  2. Find resources that are reliable and will save you time, trial, and error. The reality is  you can find all the resources you need, but it’s going to take a lot of time to jumble everything together.
  3. Put a lot of applications out there. Really spend a lot of time on each one to truly tailor it  instead of shot gunning applications.
  4. Bear in mind that remote work is “work.” You’re still applying for a job. You need to truly consider your own discipline and ways you can keep yourself accountable.
  5. Find a mentor. Try to find someone you want to be 3 years down the road. Those people who are a few steps ahead of you can offer a ton of insight.

What are a few words of advice for entrepreneurs who are also remote workers?  Because we know that life isn’t always the easiest. 

Being an entrepreneur can be a bit crappy. It’s a lonely life just on its own. There’s an insane amount of uncertainty; that’s the negative side.

Now if you decide to be remote, it makes it more difficult. If your team is remote, the kind of people who are working for you remotely will be extremely important. Those serendipitous moments at a round table where you bounce things off of each other don’t often happen online. You need to find a way to recreate that. Find a way to meet regularly. And if you can, spend a significant amount of time together with your workers at the beginning of the company.

We, as founders, had that time to take those important steps of conceptualization.

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