The BBC published an article last year on how COVID-19 may well have started the fast-growing digital nomad trend saying:
“The genie of remote working has come out of the bottle…and as more and more workers become nomadic, the way of life has become mainstream: telling your family or your company that you want to move while you work may have drawn skeptical glances in the past, but the idea doesn’t work. It doesn’t seem so far-fetched now, especially as some companies increasingly allow their staff to work remotely. indefinitely.”
In this context, we sat down with a Belgian creative designer and entrepreneur, Florian Jacqueswho created something called Update – an interesting and timely start-up specifically designed to help digital nomads.
Q: Many thanks for your time Florian. Let’s start by explaining what Midstay is.
A: Update is an all-in-one platform that brings together all the tools you’ll need to work and travel.
We certify and integrate local services such as visas, insurance, local SIM cards, coworking spaces, yoga studios, scooter rentals, etc. Our mission is to get remote workers to their jobs online faster, instead of wasting time searching for these services when they arrive in a new location. We also provide solutions for companies, where managers can organize the budgets of each employee and send them to work from Bali for a few weeks or a few months. All services are on-demand and integrated under one roof to provide a frictionless platform for remote workers to settle in and reach their productivity levels faster.
Q: Where did the idea for Midstay come from?
A: After traveling and working in different places for over five years, I guess you could call me a digital nomad. But to be honest, it was complicated to move every three to six months to a new city; you have to meet new people, find a new gym, find coworking spaces, etc. I know it would have saved me a lot of time if Update had been around then. We believe Update will be a very useful tool for many people like me who like to travel and work at the same time.
Q: You currently have three hubs in Bali; one in Canggu, one in Ubud and one in Uluwatu. Why these locations?
A simple. These are the most popular places for digital nomads in Bali, and also where the infrastructure is the best. We also plan to expand to Sanur, Ungasan and Jimbaran in the future.
Q: Is a digital nomad the same as a digital worker, remote worker, or freelancer? What is the difference?
A: That’s a very good question! We’re actually struggling to find the right wording because now everyone has experienced some kind of “remote work”, but not everyone connects with the term “digital nomad“. My father, for example; he’s been in Bali for two months and enjoys working here, but doesn’t identify with being called a digital nomad at all. I think it’s best to use remote workers (overseas.)
Q: How many digital nomads or remote workers are there in Bali?
A: According to nomadic list, there are 6,600 digital nomads in Canggu alone, but believe me, there are many more than that; only a few people I’ve met here actually know about this website. I would say there are at least ten times that number.
Q: Are there other popular places for remote work in Indonesia?
A: Yes of course! There’s Flores, where the diving, boat tours and Komodo dragons are incredible. There’s also the Mentawai Islands for those who like to surf, but it’s quite remote and not exactly ideal for work. And there’s always Lombok, especially since the recent MotoGP really put the island on the map. It’s a beautiful place with amazing surf, excellent diving and plenty of hiking.
Q: What are the main things to look for in a new destination?
A: I would say WiFi and infrastructure. Find a place that suits your lifestyle and is “remote worker friendly”. It is also important to be able to connect with other surfers, yogis or divers for example. And it’s there Update comes because you’ll be able to check out all those things, like profiles based on interests and lifestyles, in the hubs that interest you the most.
Q: What are your main pain points?
A: Our primary is on the B2B side of our business model as we need to educate large business leaders that remote work is here to stay. Another is to make sure on a daily basis that the layer of certifications we promise our users is always up to date. We’ve worked hard to ensure they continue to receive the best data to ensure they can settle in as quickly as possible when relocating to a new hub.
Q: On your website, you talk about an all-in-one ecosystem platform. What is it and why is it important for your business model?
A: Our platform requires our members to have a “temporary home address” so that we can map and find all available services that best serve them. We’re talking about visas, insurance, local SIM cards, coworking spaces, yoga studios, gyms, wellness centers, and more. We have also understood that these remote workers like to give back and help local communities, so we are introducing a feature that certifies all local NGOs around the temporary residence address of these nomads, where they can either donate funds or offer of their time to volunteer. We also have something called home sharing, which is a key feature allowing any villa to be shared by like-minded people, mostly around a common lifestyle or interest.
For us, an ecosystem means growing side by side and having values from segment to segment. It is a place where people interact and discover, usually with Update, remote workers have a frictionless experience. Our members have everything they need, so they are fully equipped to work. No other website or portal does this for this market.
Q: Your website has a long list of lifestyle partners. Was it difficult to get them to agree to offer discounts to the Midstay community?
A: It was actually quite simple and our timing was good. Because Bali was closed to tourists for two years, these companies were looking for new ways to market their services and nomads became the target. On top of that, I think we’re giving them a great way to stay in control and not depend on us as a sales channel. All we do is bring them new potential customers and they have nothing to lose by being listed on Update. In fact, it’s almost like an endorsement, because being listed means you’ve been certified by us and passed our checklists.
Q: Have you noticed any business or travel trends among your members?
A: It’s a little hard to say since we’re at the very beginning of the journey and the world is only slowly opening up, but in general I have to say people are staying longer and adopting a mindset of travel slow being more aware of their footprints; settle down for a few weeks or a few months, discover the local cultures.
Q: There have been recent reports of a digital nomad visa in Bali. Thailand, for example, has implemented a 5+5 year visa which seems suitable for digital nomads. What do you think about this?
A: I think it would be a good idea to have a visa for nomads in Indonesia. I’m not 100% sure about the Thai model though, as five years is too long for a typical nomad and might be too expensive. Nomads typically travel outside their home country around 69 days a year, so it makes more sense to have a three, six, or 12 month visa. They are generally looking for travel flexibility, not being tied to one place for five or 10 years.
Q: We encourage digital nomads, whether individuals or groups of friends, to establish a PMA to comply with tax rules and regulations. What do you think about this?
A: Yes, I think it’s a great idea, but it could also lead to problems in the future if the nomads split up and no longer stay in Bali. That’s why I always decided to create and open my own business so as not to be dependent.
Update is based in a large villa in Umalas and offers plenty of space to work in as well as a swimming pool and garden to relax and meet like-minded nomads. They have already been approached by new start-ups from Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur keen to bring employees to Bali, using this as a way to attract and retain employees. talents.
For more details and to join the Update waiting list for a free one-year premium access pass, go to www.mymidstay.com. They are also on social networks (Facebook, instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter) or log in with Florian Jacques directly on Linkedin.