As one of the first participants on Remote Year, Kate Smith first dove into the digital nomad lifestyle in 2015. After purchasing a one-way ticket with no remote job and an unexpected broken laptop, Smith quickly learned the ins and outs of attaining a remote job and living the lifestyle. From her experiences, she then launched her own company, WiFly Nomads. The two-week pilot program took place in September 2017, where like-minded aspiring entrepreneurs and digital nomads met in Bali to attend a series of workshops and immersive experiences. Smith now resides in Bali where she continues to build her business and is preparing to launch her second program later this year. We talked to her about how finding a community and founding a company goes hand-in-hand.
After traveling around the world on Remote Year and experiencing different coworking spaces, what’s something about the community in Bali that stands out?
In terms of the coworking spaces I’ve been to across the world, they are all so different. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that is the same. The best coworking spaces I’ve been in have really cool environments and atmospheres.
I think that coworking spaces play a factor, but so does the country and the environment – Bali as a whole blends to the fact that you’re on this tropical island and the coworking spaces are 10-minute walks to the beach that impacts your experience there.
As an entrepreneur, how important is finding a community within a coworking place?
Your network is critical to your success as an entrepreneur and where you are going to find people to get you to that success are in coworking spaces.
If you’re not going to have a community in a coworking space, then you have an office space. The difference between an office cubicle and a coworking space is that you have an inspiring office environment and the driving force of a like-minded community.
You just launched your pilot program for WiFly Nomads in September. The 2-week program consisted of working at several coworking spaces. What were the participants’ reactions to the community?
I think the participants were blown away by the community and inspired to see the diversity of the people living this lifestyle. They were really open-minded in meeting and connecting with people in the space and taking the opportunity to grow their network.
Being a digital nomad could be lonely at times, how do you go about building relationships with people?
One of my best friends now is from Bali, and I met him at the Beach and Beers event hosted by a coworking space here called Dojo. When I go to Dojo events, I’m meeting everyone, gaging who’s actually there long-term and then pursuing more friendships and following up with them.
The friends I have made are incredible. It’s such a diverse group, and we’re all from different places around the world – UK, Spain, the U.S. Also, my friends are from 20-year-olds to 40-year-olds, so the age range is broader and you’re learning from each other all the time.
You need to connect with people one on one. You can go on a bunch of group events, and there are a lot of people you’re connecting with, but you are never going to actually form deep connections. It’s important to go and build a stronger connection with those people later.
What are some of your favorite places you have worked from around the world?
Libros del Pasaje, Buenos Aires: a cozy bookstore with floor to ceiling of books with a café.
Dojo, Bali: beachside coworking space with a pool and delicious Nalu bowls next door.
Poligon, Slovenia: modernized and spacious creative center
What are some things you look for when deciding a coworking space for your program?
The first thing is how the people I was speaking with were interacting with me. You had some who cared about customer service versus others who didn’t care as much. That was important to me that they cared, because I cared about the participants’ experience and wanted to deliver it and in order to do that, I needed the partners to be the same way. It’s a partnership, and impacts the success of your program.
Second would be the WOW moments – to have an inspiring environment and have as many of those “wow” moments you can create.
How does coworking spaces help you as an entrepreneur?
The first time I ever vocalized the idea of WiFly or when I was trying to figure out what it was going to be was in a coworking space. I remember sitting there and explaining it. The people you meet are somehow going to be able to help you in some sort of way. Nowhere in a 9 to 5 can you throw around ideas and get an idea.
For more information about WiFly Nomads and their upcoming programs check out www.wiflynomads.com.
This article was contributed by Akina Chargualaf.