Our agency is called The Bakery. We develop & design web and iOS applications - with the twist that we like to relocate every few months, and try to find clients in the locations we travel to.
It's currently 3 of us: Dino, our iOS cake-maker from Croatia - Philip, our full-stack chef from Ukraine - and myself, a french-american croissant-loving designer. Although in practice, we all do a bit of everything.
Philip and I were room mates in San Francisco where we were both working for tech companies. We had been talking about travelling around the world for a while, but we started freelancing by chance, to help out a friend on a project. Then we took on a second project with a local startup, and quickly realized this could be a full-time occupation.
Right around that time, we heard about a government-funded tech accelerator program in Italy. We applied, got accepted and moved to Italy for 6 months. It all happened quite fast - within a few weeks.
We met Dino in that program in Italy. He was developing iOS games at the time and we spent a lot of time hacking on things together. At the end of the 6 months, we offered him to join us.
After our Italian adventure, an old friend of mine needed help with his startup located in Hong Kong and Manila. We jumped on the opportunity and flew over to help out. We spent a couple months on site, and then travelled around South East Asia while continuing our work. By that time, we were also communicating more about our agency so new clients started coming to us.
The difficulty when you work remotely, is that you are competing against the entire world. So either you need to rely on your existing network, or you need to find yourself a niche where you can have more visibility and credibility. We did a little bit of both. For instance, we became more active in the open-source community.
Amazing! Of course, it might not be for everybody and you could easily find a number of downsides. But in our case, we got addicted to the thrill of discovering new places and meeting so many different people. We also think it has a positive impact on our work as it gives us more perspective to the world - and the job we do.
The hardest thing is probably to manage the deal flow, especially at the beginning. When you start off, you don't really have the luxury to turn away a project - even if its not the right time and place. I remember a last-minute project where Philip and Dino were working from a rice field in northern Philippines using a cheap 3G router, while I was stuck on a rainy island where the only access to wifi was on an outdoor patio. Definitely not ideal. If timing is the #1 problem, WiFi is #2.
When we visited Berlin last year, we started a little project to help us discover the Berlin tech scene. This turned into Tech Berlin.
These days, we're spending a lot of our free time trying to solve our own nomad problems by building Y5. It's a mobile app to find places with WiFi and good work conditions.
One thing we'd like to do in the future is to film our nomad adventures, and interview people around the world about the their views on work, technology, travel, etc. Maybe try to make a documentary out of it.
Thanks for the interview, Mark. We wish you all the best for the ongoing travels and are hoping to have you back here, soon!
PS: If you want to find out how Dino packed all of his stuff incl. Laptop and tablet PC in one tiny back pack - check The Bakery's travel report!