1.16.2015

How I Built a Startup While Traveling to 20 Countries

By Jay Meistrich, Co-founder and CEO of Moo.do, entrepreneur.com
Jay MeistrichOne year ago, I left San Francisco, sold and gave away everything I owned, and moved into a 40-liter backpack.
I traveled to 45 cities in 20 countries, three Disneylands, and one bunny island.
I also worked 50 hours a week building and launching a startup.
And my total costs were less than just the rent in San Francisco.

Traveling is not the same as vacation
There’s a growing community of “digital nomads” who live a location-independent lifestyle. We’re software developers, designers, writers, journalists, engineers and all sorts of people who share a passion for the work we do and experiencing the world.
I propose that a nomadic lifestyle is a productive way to build a real company. I’m working hard on bootstrapping an ambitious startup, Moo.do. I’m traveling because it’s cheaper, more productive and more inspiring than sitting in one place. Traveling is the most responsible choice for the sake of my company, my finances, and my personal growth.
I became a nomad by accident
Three years ago I was preparing to leave my job at Microsoft to move to San Francisco to build a startup. My friend asked me, “but why do you need to be in San Francisco when you can work on a computer from anywhere?” His question made a lot of sense. As I thought about it more, I began to question my assumptions about a “normal life” which don’t make sense in our modern world.
I reject the idea of a 9–5 job. I want to explore the world while the sun is out instead of wasting the daylight hours working inside and dreaming of my next vacation.
I reject the idea of settling down. I want to experience new cultures and eat new foods instead of being stuck in the neighborhood around my house.
I reject the idea of stuff. It’s not the size of my TV that matters. The world is much more interesting than what’s in my house.
I reject the idea of boredom. I’m constantly surrounded by new places, people and experiences. I haven’t felt bored since I started traveling and I don’t even have the desire to watch TV or play video games anymore.
I reject the idea of a bucket list. I have a list of things to do and I’m doing them.
So off I went, with my crazy new ideas about life in tow. I spent six months traveling around Australia, Asia and Europe. But it didn’t work out so well.
I gave up and still moved to San Francisco. Traveling was fun, but I had a great idea and I needed to really focus and get real work done. What better place to build my startup than Silicon Valley?
But I soon found myself becoming too comfortable and slowing down, getting easily bored and distracted, and watching a lot of TV. I sat at my computer for 12 hours a day but didn’t feel like I was productive.
On a trip to New York, my friends went to work during the days, so I went out and worked in coffee shops and in Central Park. Suddenly I was hugely productive, getting much more work done in six hours than in my normal 12-hour days. The same thing happened a few months later on a trip to London. I was even coming up with better ideas because the new experiences and surroundings were keeping my mind more active.
Having figured out the pattern, I left San Francisco a year ago, fully committing to a nomadic lifestyle. And this time it feels like I’ve figured it out. I’m happy, productive, meeting great new people, learning about real global problems to solve, and I successfully launched Moo.do.
This is what I’ve learned over the past year.
Traveling is cheaper than staying at home
These are actual numbers calculated from my personal spending habits. Your mileage may vary. >>>

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