Start-up raises $12m to help employees see the world while working

Participants spend a whole year working abroad, moving to a different city each month

Tech Desk October 12, 2016
Hikers pose for a photo in front of the Hollywood sign on a foggy day in Los Angeles, California PHOTO: REUTERS

For people who want to travel while still being on job, 'Remote Year' might just be the right choice.

Under ‘Remote Year’, participants get to spend a whole year working abroad, moving to a different city and country each month. Now the company has raised $12 million in seed funding.

Series A funding in the company was led by Highland Capital Partners, while other investors in the round include WeWork Labs co-founder Jesse Middleton and Airbnb co-founder/CTO Nate Blecharczyk.

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Remote Year CEO Greg Caplan, who is also the founder of the company, said he had this idea two years ago. When he opened applications, 25,000 people applied for a slot of 75.

The company is looking to have 500 participants across six programmes as Caplan plans to increase the number significantly by tapping into two “mega trends”.

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“First, productivity has moved to the cloud,” the CEO said. “Great work can be done anywhere. People are more creative and productive when they’re inspired by their surroundings.”

Secondly, we no longer value the things that we own, but the experiences we share with other people, he added.

First cohort of Remote year PHOTO: REMOTE YEAR

“In Croatia, for example, there wasn’t an existing co-working opportunity for us to tap into, so we created an amazing co-working space right on the beach,” Caplan said.

People taking part in the programme are required making a $5,000 down-payment along with monthly payments of $2,000, for the first 11 months. The payment covers your travel, living accommodations along with a workspace with the internet.

However, the company is not responsible for providing participants with work. It is merely responsible for providing an environment and an experience that could make participants more productive and subsequently improving their work quality. Companies might consider this as a form of education and development for their employees.

Currently, Remote Year employs 85 people, a number which Caplan plans to expand. Unsurprisingly, the project doesn’t have a fixed headquarters though Caplan plans to give Remote Year its own headquarters to expand the project.

Remote year provides accommodation and transportation for its participants. PHOTO: REMOTE YEAR

Caplan believes a cohort of 75 people feels like the right size and allows better management of the groups. However, the route may differ for different groups depending on certain preferences — for example; some travellers who might need to work on US hours would be facilitated and would not be sent to Asia given the time difference.

“The diversity that’s been most exciting for us is vocational,” he added. “We have people from all different backgrounds — a lot of engineers and designers, but the biggest category is marketing. There are journalists, writers, even a few lawyers. It’s a very, very diverse group of people in terms of where they’re from and in terms of what they do.”

However, not everyone has the capability to complete the programmes. Participants can take breaks and re-join as they please.

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Commenting on the remote working aspect of the programme, Caplan said, “We don’t believe we can make a bad employee [into] a good remote employee, but we can make a good employee a good remote employee.”

It remains to be seen whether employers accept this approach given the competitive nature of jobs these days. It may be productive on a personal level but does it help a firm that relies on an active, enclosed environment?

These are some of the cities Remote Year currently sends their participants to:

Prague - Split - London - Belgrade - Lisbon - Rabat - Valencia - Sofia

Kuala Lumpur - Koh Phangan - Phnom Penh - Ho Chi Minh City - Chiang Mai - Hanoi

Medellín - Bogotá - Lima - Santiago - Córdoba - Buenos Aires - Mexico City

This article originally appeared on Tech Crunch

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