Build your remote startup

# Build your remote startup

Starting a company with a remote-first mindset is a great way to succeed in today’s landscape. The price, access to talent, and flexibility are huge advantages. But, there are still challenges that are unique to being outside of Silicon Valley.

# Learn from successful remote teams

Don't just trust us! It's becoming more common by the day for companies to start their companies remotely. Whether it's out of necesity or preference, these teams are defining the future of work.

  • How Doist Makes Remote Work Happen: Doist - 68 people in 25 countries building a product used by millions. We believe that one day soon this way of working will be the norm.
  • Remote Life: What's it all about?: InVision - I’m regularly asked questions about how working remotely for a fully-distributed company compares to traditional office life, so I decided to write a post about it.
  • How we do benefits as a remote and international company: Buffer - In this post, we’re going to dive into another big part of working at and running Buffer, which is employee benefits.
  • All Remote: GitLab - GitLab is an all-remote company with team members located in more than 60 countries around the world. We'll share what "all remote" really means.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work: Zapier - Working remotely and running a remote team seems like black magic to many. Yet at Zapier, we've been working remotely since our founding in October of 2011. This book shares everything we've learned about running a remote team—our successes and our failures.
  • Stripe's fifth engineering hub is remote: Stripe - Stripe has engineering hubs in San Francisco, Seattle, Dublin, and Singapore. We are establishing a fifth hub that is less traditional but no less important: Remote.
  • How we support remote employees at Digital Ocean: Digital Ocean - Our remote population totals over 200 employees, making up over 50% of our employees. Here’s what we learned and how we adjusted our efforts to better support the remotee experience.

# Getting started

To succeed as a startup (whether co-located or remote!), you need to build something people want and prove that you have some kind of traction. It really doesn't matter where your employees are located until you have the basics of an interesting and profitable business.

# Meet people and talk to your users

It’s hard and slow to launch a startup. No matter where you are located, you will need a support network of founders, investors, and talent. Join a co-working space, partake in online forums, and go to in-person events to get connected.

As with any business, the first step to gaining traction is talking with your users. It’s the fastest way to succeed with an early product or service and the best way to ensure an amazing experience. Make sure you are talking to your users daily!

Resources for growing your network and community as a startup:

  • Indie Hackers: Connect with developers who are sharing the strategies and revenue numbers behind their companies and side projects.

  • Hacker News: Hacker News is a social news website focusing on computer science and entrepreneurship.

  • Product Hunt: Product Hunt is a curation of the best new products, every day. Discover the latest mobile apps, websites, and technology products that everyone's talking about.

  • Nomad List: Join a global community of international travelers working remotely around the world.

  • Creative Mornings: Find your people. Every month, we gather in 207 cities across 65 countries, for free.

  • Lunch Club: Smart introductions to relevant people. Lunchclub makes curated connections for 1:1 lunch or coffee meetings.

  • Stripe Atlas: Stripe Atlas is a powerful, safe, and easy-to-use platform for forming a company. By removing lengthy paperwork, bank visits, legal complexity, and numerous fees, Stripe Atlas helps you launch your startup from anywhere in the world.

  • Bumble Bizz: Today, most people find their next job through their network. We created Bumble Bizz so professionals can connect with each other, share, and learn.

There are a ton more resources out there for meeting people. Ask around in your online or local community to start curating your list of events and tools to grow your network.

Tip: Embed a Calendly page as one of your onboarding steps and offer some kind of free service over a video call. It’s an easy way to talk with more people, learn from them, and gain trust from the users.

# Prove your idea

The MVP of your product does not need to be backed by any kind of crazy technology. It’s just the simplest thing you can get out there to prove the idea and get people to pay you.

The first version could just be a landing page where a human is manually performing a service. If it’s a batch photo editing app - do it by hand! If it’s an insurance matchmaker - send them a PDF you researched personally!

Getting real users to pay you to use a product or service is the only way to prove the business model. Until you get to that point, you’re just playing around on the internet.

Resources for getting your MVP off the ground:

  • YC’s Startup School offers a free 10-week online course.

  • MakerPad: The easiest way to build tools without code. Explore the best no-code tools. Learn how to build powerful applications. Hire experts to help you with your project.

  • Squarespace: Our award-winning templates are the most beautiful way to present your ideas online. Stand out with a professional website, portfolio, or online store.

  • Webflow: Build responsive websites in your browser, then launch with our world-class hosting or export your code.

  • Typeform: Create interactive experiences for your audience — get more responses. It's that simple. Try it FREE – no coding required.

  • Zapier: Connect the apps you use everyday to automate your work and be more productive.

# Raise Venture Funding

Recent market changes have made it safe for your startup to embrace being remote, and to sell it to investors as an advantage. You don’t have to live in Palo Alto, and you don’t need to raise money to build out an overpriced office.

So if investors ask you "why remote?" here are some recommended talking points:

  • Pipeline of talent: Without the geographic restriction of a shared office, you get far better access to talent. This will lead to quicker hires and more specialized candidates.

  • Lower average costs: If employees live somewhere cheaper than SF (which is almost anywhere else), they get a higher standard of living while the company saves money.

  • More diverse candidates: Hiring in more places gives you access to people with different beliefs, perspectives, backgrounds, ages, lifestyles, nationalities, ethnicities, education, and more.

  • Retention: Keeping employees retained is much easier when they have the flexibility to work where and when they want. Time and lifestyle are often more valuable to remote workers than inflated tech salaries.

  • Maturity: Going remote means that communication, processes, and leadership need to be a priority from day one. Once your team is ready to scale, there will be less friction.

Resources for seed funding:

# Ditch the open office

If you search the internet for "best startup offices", you’ll see photos of open office plans, ping pong tables, and in-office cafeterias. All things that have nothing to do with getting the work done. Workers get packed into farms of desks that look like factories. Tiny conference rooms and call booths can result in carbon monoxide poisoning or formaldehyde poisoning. Not cool!

Today’s tech offices are designed for socializing, not productivity. Interruptions, meetings, and annoying shoulder taps segment the day into unproductive chunks of time. Knowledge workers need long periods of uninterrupted time to enter a flow state.

In the modern work environment, you do not need the whole team in the same room. Each person will have their own ideal path to productivity and focus. All you need is an organized plan, a defined process, and clear communication.

Divider illustration - "Open for business"

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