The Nomads have always had this cachet as the wanderlust millennials of no-fixed-address who strived to work by the beach on their laptops for the rest of their lives. As it turns out, the pandemic created an explosion of Nomads worldwide, and with it, entirely new industries in the process. Here we look at the Nomad Business Model.
In one life, you rent/buy your home using a local agent, head to the office to work on most days, shop a certain set of local stores, do all your banking at the local branch, and deal with all your insurance/administrative needs with trusted national firms.
In another life, none of the above apply:
> you book a room on Airbnb or in a recommended hostel based on the reviews of other travelers/nomads before you
>you work in that same space, – or in a connected coworking space – that is optimized for working with others in the same building
>you shop in the local places as you find them, but also go by the referrals of your peers, as you try to find the places where the experience will be the best
>your banking is all-digital, and since most of your work is remote, you will need to be able to accept international payments on the fly without a local bank account
>insurance and anything related to immigration can be difficult to organize, as traditional firms don’t offer any products for nomads, so you need to find a patchwork of online products that fill the gap
All the while, you basically hope nothing actually goes wrong, as being on the other side of the world away from family and friends make it difficult to deal with anymore obstacles than are already presented. Welcome to the lifestyle of the early Nomads.
Perhaps it is fitting that many innovative products and services were built for a segment of the market that some think could be as big as 1 Billion people by 2035.
Airbnb – Monthly Stays
Airbnb is usually the best friend of the Nomads. It is the ground floor for most experiences in a new country or place, allowing Nomads to book rooms for the exact number of days they needed them.
The market is now shifting into Monthly Stays (between 1 and 6 months) as people who are sick of working from the same home venture into other parts of their countries and other places around the world.
Hospitality – Subscription Living
Not to be outdone, certain hotels and hybrid rental platforms are innovating their own offerings on the back of this trend, such as Zoku in Amsterdam (and other locations in Europe) offering the option of Subscription Living, and bundled package that covers everything – work, live, play – for a total monthly cost.
NomadList – Crowdsourced Cities & Remote Work
Before, during, or after any arriving at/leaving any destination, there are scores of other Nomads discussing where to be, why, how much it is going to cost, and pretty much every other detail associated with the Nomad life. NomadList is a popular membership platform among the Nomads, offering rankings on different facets of life, a Slack channel (for Subscribers) to network with other Nomads, and a Remote Work Board to help one another find jobs.
Transferwise – Int’l Payments and Bank Account
Transferwise has exploded in the last several years. In the first phase, they offered the cheapest and most reliable service for international wire transfers, a perfect product for the Nomads. From there, they have gradually emerged as an international bank for freelancers of sorts.
The newly rebranded Wise is set to IPO later this year for a reported $5 billion US or more, proving that the Nomads and their associates are a lucrative segment of the financial services market as well.
Safety Wing – Travel Insurance
On the insurance side, we have Safety Wing, who are offer the Nomads a bundled, cost-effective travel insurance product – something that is both necessary and priceless for those who move around the world constantly.
The company came out of Y Combinator, but is underwritten by Lloyds and administered by Tokio Marine – two of the heavyweights of the insurance world. The structure of the product is ideal for on-the-move freelancers and Nomads compared to almost all other travel-insurance products.
Certain Governments at all levels – from Municipal up to Federal – are now starting to offer incentives in order to lure Nomads to their locale and spur the tourism economy in the wake of the pandemic.
Countries like Costa Rica, Georgia, Dubai, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Antigua y Barbuda, Mexico, Australia, and Thailand were already offering digital nomad visas even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of the Nomads now have their own businesses, teams they communicate with, and entire networks around them that in addition to providing tourism dollars, can inject badly-needed entrepreneurial capital into any region.