“Sorry, it’s a little hard to hear you over the waves,” Dave Williams says over the faintly audible sound of rushing water. Though the serial techpreneur, angel investor and startup mentor who founded, grew and exited all of his companies in the Peach State still counts himself as an Atlantan, he is explaining his latest venture from a beach in Los Angeles.
Since his last exit, the sale of BLiNQ Media to Gannett in 2012 for a reported $40 million, Williams has lived life on the move, hitting almost every continent and dozens of countries. The TAG Lifetime Award recipient calls Atlanta home base, but has taken on the life of a digital nomad, one who works remotely by using technology to connect to clients, colleagues and employees.
It’s an increasingly common lifestyle, due to a changing workforce (millennials are more likely to get married and start families later and have location-independent or freelance-based jobs), ease and affordability of travel, and technological resources. Last year 43 percent of Americans reported working remotely at least part of the time.
And though it’s hard to measure exactly how many digital nomads there are today (there’s not even a true definition of the term quite yet), the popularity of programs that cater to these individuals is rising. Williams saw this firsthand during his travels, but noticed the gaps in programs that didn’t provide a seamless, community-based experience to participants. While discussing the market with two Gen-Z entrepreneurs, he realized the solution was right in front of them: this digital nomad would start his own company geared towards the tribe he counted himself a part of.
Starting this July, NomadX will provides a group of 25 members with a fully-integrated travel/work experience in the emerging tech hub and cultural capital of Lisbon, Portugal. Learn what sets this comprehensive program apart from existing digital nomad resources, why they chose Lisbon to kick off the program, and how they intend to create a community of technologists, creatives and adventurers around the world.
Number of employees?
Three full-time founders: Chairman Dave Williams, and Steven Allen and Graham Novak serving as business operating and product management leads. The founders met at Washington and Lee University when Dave, an alumni, returned to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs and fund the school’s new campus incubator. Following the school year, they remained in touch and collaborated on the idea for NomadX at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal in late 2016.
There are also five other team members, all Atlanta-based but one.
How does the program work?
NomadX is a membership-based company for aspiring digital nomads throughout the world. We help individuals and corporations achieve personal and business breakthroughs while maximizing global work-life travel opportunities and experiences. Our first program will launch in Lisbon, Portugal in July, August and September 2017, where we will offer 30-day residences for up to 25 people to experience the digital nomad lifestyle.
Why is this service needed? Can’t people just go live and work abroad on their own?
The concept of the digital nomad was first introduced in the mid ‘90s and has resurfaced thanks to Tim Ferrise’s book, “The 4-Hour Workweek.” Since then, millions of nomads have experimented with this lifestyle as technology makes it very easy to live and work from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a fast internet connection.
This has all created the foundation for the growth of the digital nomad lifestyle promoted and aspired to by millennials who think there is another way than the typical 9 to 5 lifestyle of prior generations. There are more than 4 million digital nomads today, and this is expected to grow to 3 billion by 2035. We are looking to help global digital workers transition and experiment with this lifestyle.
But, many digital nomads have issues with loneliness and fear doing it on their own, so we have designed NomadX around group live-work travel experiences, along with a private membership, to address the problems we see in the industry.
Are you funded or seeking funding?
We are founder funded by Dave and anticipate seeking a VC investment in late 2017 to fund global growth, real estate purchases and future acquisitions.
What does the program cost?
We charge one fixed price, starting at $2,000 to $2,750 per month for individual residents with incremental costs for excursions or extras. We also offer a private membership program for industry discounts and networking, where all members must pass a background check and review.
How did your background lead to this endeavor?
Dave’s experience starting and launching companies in Atlanta, New York City and other locations throughout the U.S. and around the world has exposed him to the changing nature of work. By opening offices in over a dozen incubators and remotely managing a large workforce, he’s been encouraged by what is possible today. Still, it was not until he met his partners, Steven Allen and Graham Novak, that the idea for the company solidified and a solid launch team came into place.
There are other programs that do this though, right? What sets NomadX apart?
It’s a relatively new industry with multiple early-stage companies founded by bootstrapped digital nomads. Many of the programs lack a strong brand and are more like summer camps as opposed to work-focused communities. Many of the programs that offer similar programs, such as Remote Year and Hackers Paradise, have been successful as their participants roam the world, but they lack flexibility and aren’t established long-term in markets.
Our long-term vision is to establish year-round operations in major digital nomad locales and eventually own our real estate with a network of top incubators providing dedicated office space for our digital nomad membership base. This membership program will offer community, travel discounts and access to our work and living spaces. Ultimately, we expect to be the most recognized membership organization for digital nomads, simultaneously creating a thriving community for our members and a growing business.
Our data-driven operations and strenuous review process ensure that we accept and select only the best properties, locations, and facilities. We have thoroughly vetted and personally visited each and every component of our program.
Yet above everything else, our community defines us. We bring together the most innovative entrepreneurs, writers, developers, freelancers, and consultants (just to name a few professions) so that they may evolve both personally and professionally while forming new friendships through shared travel.
Why Lisbon? What makes the location ideal?
The Portuguese have always been adventurous explorers “on the frontier of the modern world.” Today, they’re exploring the world’s new frontier: innovative technologies. Bloomberg Markets noted that, where “Portugal once launched ships, [they] now launch startups.” Why? Because tech talent, young entrepreneurs, experienced businessmen, and many others want to relocate there. Millennials from throughout Europe are flocking there due to the low-cost lifestyle, incredible work-life balance, coastal surf, summer festivals and recognition as a top entrepreneurship destination in Europe.
How is the program structured?
The program is structured for residents to get set up and ready to work right when they arrive. We have vetted all properties, work space, and technology, and we also facilitate exploration and collaboration. With a base rate of $2,000 per month, we provide everything so that digital nomads don’t have to worry. This includes: a furnished apartment, co-working space within walking distance, public transportation, social events, professional development, even a gym and yoga membership.
How does Atlanta weave into this global company’s story?
Dave started his entrepreneurial career in Atlanta after graduating from Emory’s Goizueta Business School and founded his prior companies in Atlanta. Our U.S. corporate HQ will be based in Atlanta and almost all of our vendors are Atlanta-based. We are leveraging Dave’s connections to partner with local experts here in Atlanta.
We see Atlanta as a strong hub for local digital nomads who are itching to experience a global lifestyle next. The team is currently working at the Sandbox ATL prior to departing for Lisbon this summer.
Intrigued by NomadX? Attend the launch party June 7 at Orpheus Brewery to learn more.