October 25, 2021 – The story of the Croatian digital nomad has been loaded for 12 months, but there is a lot happening elsewhere in the world. Having been invited to speak at the inaugural Digital Nomad World conference on December 6-8, TCN met owner and organizer Olumide Gbenro in Bali.
The global history of digital nomads is accelerating and all (around 10,000 pairs) will participate in Digital Nomadic Week 2021 in early December, when 100 speakers will address some 10,000 virtual participants from over 120 countries.
Croatia will have a strong private sector presence, with several key figures making incredible progress over the past 18 months, all among the 100 speakers. Jan de Jong, president of the Digital Nomad Association Croatia and catalyst of the Croatian digital nomad permit, has so far confirmed with a Croatian angle. American Steve Tsentserensky, only the 7th permit recipient and a regular speaker and viral videographer. Israeli Nimrod Dean Kuchel was a keynote speaker at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week. German Andreas Wil Gerdes who has been advocating remote working strategies for Croatia for some time. And on a personal level, I was delighted to have the chance to present Croatia’s history from TCN’s perspective, having covered the topic for over two years.
It’s time to step out of our Croatian bubble and meet the man behind this global event and find out more.
Olumide Gbenro is a digital nomad pioneer based in Bali, Indonesia who has organized community events serving more than 10,000 digital nomads around the world over the past 5 years. He is the founder of Digital Nomad Week, Digital Nomad Summit, Digital Nomad Islands and Digital Nomad Festival.
Her work has been covered in leading publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur and Business Insider for advocating for digital nomadic visas and her continued work to create sustainable world citizens who give back to local communities.
Today, it helps governments, cities and organizations attract digital nomads and better prepare for the future of remote working today.
1. Week of digital nomads. Executed from Bali but totally remote. 10,000 participants, 100 speakers, 120 countries. It sounds unbelievable. Tell us a bit about the event first, and how you got started.
In 2020, we were to hold our first in-person summit in Bali, Indonesia, but due to Covid we had to postpone it. Instead, we moved on to a virtual summit and it was a blessing in disguise as we saw around 1000 attendees from all over the world. It showed me the strong signal I needed to continue creating virtual events for high-level networking, learning and socializing for the digital nomad community around the world.
2. Who is the event for?
We are targeting both newbies to the remote working world and experienced leaders who have already achieved complete freedom. There is something for everyone, from our panels with famous digital nomads like Matt Kepnes “Nomadic Matt” and the legendary Rolf Potts, Kristen Wilson and Gonçalo Hall, founder of the world’s first digital nomad village, the best of the best will be in the (virtual) rooms discussing the future of our population. We also have a brain with 6 and 7 figure nomads sharing their latest knowledge on how to achieve complete financial freedom.
3. Where does Digital Nomad Week stand in terms of global DN conferences?
I really think we’re the best, and I’m not just saying that. No one has ever assembled such a formidable team of remote work leaders and this is just the start. Next year I will be presenting both a physical Digital Nomad Summit and a massive Digital Nomad Festival later in 2022.
4. What are your hopes and expectations for this year’s conference?
My real hope is that people find a new home, a place where they can not only gain high-level learning, but also meet new business partners, learn about emerging digital nomadic centers and maybe also develop a skill that helps them generate their first or six figure online business.
5. You have been one of the main influencers of remote work for some time. How do you see the pattern of change, especially given the pandemic?
I think the pandemic has helped even savvy remote work executives decide what lifestyles they want to live and adapt quickly. That is to say, I choose where I live according to the rules issued by the governments of the region where I live. I know so many who left Bali when things got more volatile to go to Mexico. I think in the years to come we will all stay longer in destinations depending on the benefits offered by local governments, but we will also be much more active with local people and communities to give them more time, money and attention. Gone are the days when you jump from country to country every 2 weeks, it’s just not practical anymore.
6. Bali has been a remote working capital for several years. What’s the situation now – are things getting back to normal?
Things are finally starting to come back very slowly but I think it will come back sooner than expected. Although many have criticized the Indonesian government’s response, I think they are doing their best and with the new law allowing vaccinated people to enter I can see a big rebound in tourism once the 5-day quarantine is lifted. I have already noticed so much more traffic in the popular Canggu area of Bali.
7. Can we talk a little bit about Croatia, because that’s my main focus? Your observations on the history of DN in Croatia, looking from afar and with your experience on how Croatia is doing on its DN path?
I think from a distance that I see the massive efforts that Croatia is making. You have recruited passionate ambassadors and it is clear that you are making a major effort for the community. I know you have reviews, so my advice is to prove them wrong. Show the community at large that you care and you will be fine.
8. What should be the main areas of interest for Croatia in the next steps?
I think you need dedicated people to stay long term. Find 3-5 enthusiastic new faces that have a “digital nomad” on their sleeve and give them the remote. Host events that allow people to socialize and have fun, it’s not just about being serious all the time and I have found my best business deals have come from informal relationships.
9. And finally, what is the next step for Olumide Gbenro after Digital Nomad Week?
I now own the domains of Digital Nomad Summit, Digital Nomad Week, Digital Nomad Festival as well as their brands. I plan to expand from Bali to other hubs to host the best global events. I want to partner with other leaders, this is not a competition in which I do not believe and I salute the partnership of leaders and local governments who have a sincere heart for our people.
For more information on Digital Nomad Week and to register, visit the official website.
For the latest news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, visit the dedicated TCN section.