Three years ago FairMail founders Peter and Janneke decided to rent out their house in the Netherlands and travel full-time like “digital nomads” between FairMail’s different production and sales countries. Like many other digital nomads nowadays, they travel the world facilitated by modern day technology while making a living. Here are a few of their tips for other people who want to make their company virtual, see a lot of the world and experience some adventure.
Tip 1: Exchange your office for “Dropbox teams”
Dropbox is a well-known application to exchange files and documents. Just before FairMail closed its office in the Netherlands and started going virtual “Dropbox teams” came out. This gives us the opportunity to continually synchronize all the files on our travelling laptops with the computers in the FairMail offices in Peru and India. Plus we have a safe backup on the dropbox server in case our laptops crash or get stolen. This way we can share 1 terabyte in data, read the daily reports from our local managers in real-time and directly view the pictures of our teenage photographers. But even better then with other cloud applications, dropbox gives us the possibility to always have access to our files, even when internet or the electricity is down (quite common in Peru and India). At 500 euro per year we managed to save a lot in rent by being able to pack our office in our laptop cases. Which of course also benefits the income of our teenagers.
Tip 2: Take a Skype-In number so people can always reach you on a land line.
Skype is also very common by now for free calls over internet. So it makes perfect sense that digital nomads make use of this to stay in touch with their customers. Having a fixed land line number does give people more trust though and is better for your reputation than just a skype ID. That is why FairMail purchased an online Skype number. If you call to the Amsterdam based land line number 00-31-(0)20-8932239 you will automatically be connected to one of our laptops for free, no matter where in the world we are, without the customer even noticing it. Except of course if we sound a bit sleepy due to the time difference.
Tip 3: Produce your digital product close to your market.
As a modern fair trade producer you should embrace the positive sides of new technology instead of staying stuck in the old fashioned way of printing the cards where the pictures are taken and then shipping them to our customers. Digital photographs are nothing more than 0 and 1’s on a computer. So why not send those directly to the printer closest to our customers for printing? It saves a lot of transport- and storage costs, shortens your “time to market”, allows you to be more flexible with your stock and it’s better for the environment too. That’s why FairMail works with publishers in different countries who print the FairMail cards locally. Customers can also design a real FairMail card online and receive it in their mailbox the next day!