The future of remote work and digital nomadism with Pieter Levels
April 7, 2020, 9 p.m.
On this episode Abadesi talks to Pieter Levels, founder of Nomad List, a global community of international travellers working around the world, RemoteOK, a job board for remote jobs, and Hoodmaps, a unique neighborhood map app.
In this episode they talk about...
Bootstrapping versus VC, and why he doesn’t want to build a team around his products
“I don’t want to lose my skills. If I stop making stuff and become a manger, I’m going to learn a new skills but I’m not a business guy. I’m a creative person. I get happy from making stuff that works and people use.”
Pieter says that he originally thought about creating a venture-backed business, which was going to be a proto-Uber in Amsterdam, before he pivoted to bootstrapping businesses. They discuss the questionable ethics of big venture-backed businesses who have often had to compromise on their values to get really big, really fast.
He says that he works with one other person on his products but otherwise works on them all on his own — and he likes it that way. He explains why he doesn’t want to become a manager and instead prefers to keep working on his current products and potential new ones on his own, instead of delegating them to someone else once they’ve become successful.
The difference between creating a website and building a community, and how to think about charging for your product
“It’s psychologically difficult to charge people money.”
He talks about how Nomad List has evolved over time and the features he has added to the site. He explains how it transformed from a website to a community. He breaks down the benefits of a community in expanding the reach of a movement and the intangibles that a community brings with it.
He talks about how he got over the psychological barriers to charging money for access to a community, and says that at one time he explained to a member that he was even somewhat embarrassed to be charging, though now he hears from people all the time about the value that it brings to their lives. He also talks about the difficulty of managing and moderating a community.
What the future of remote work and the digital nomad lifestyle will look like
“You start off as a nomad thinking that you are going to travel the world forever but you go insane if you travel too fast.”
Pieter talks about the evolution of the digital nomad lifestyle from its infancy to now, and why it’s being talked about more than ever. He says that it was at one time a somewhat fringe movement and that he never expected it to expand like it has.
He says that creating the community around the lifestyle has helped accelerate its acceptance in mainstream culture and has resulted in there being more resources than ever for digital nomads.
He says that in time we won’t be calling it nomadism anymore, it will just be something that becomes a normal part of life as remote work gains more and more acceptance. He says that eventually “digital nomadism” will become a term like “netizens” (an early term for people who used the internet) that we don’t use anymore, because it is so pervasive, just like the internet has become.
“I flew less than my Dutch friends last year. Travel’s really fun but it’s more about finding a place where you feel better than where you were born and grew up.”
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