Why was refusing an investment and leaving France the best decision for our start-up?
At the end of our studies with my partner, we were well motivated to continue developing our app: Debtr. Rather than shaking hands with investors and staying in Paris, we preferred to move under the coconut trees to save money and thus maintain our independence. In addition to drastically reducing our expenses, we moved into a coworking space which had great benefits for our project.
It’s been three months since we moved into a coworking space in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Since then we have met a lot, released a new version, developed a business model and sunburned in the middle of winter. Here is the story of our experience.
To ensure the coup we moved to the Mecca of “digital nomads”: Chiang Mai. The second most populous city in Thailand, it has nothing to do with Bangkok. The city is stuck to a national park and has few buildings. Combining one of the lowest cost of living in the world, great internet access and hundreds of cafes and coworking places, all in a Buddhist country, Chiang Mai has built an excellent reputation for digital nomads and has a growing community of expatriates from all over the world which energizes the city.
My fixed expenses per month in Chiang Mai:
#Rent: 150 € #cowork: 120 € #Scooter rental: 80 € #Food: 150 € # TOTAL = 500 €
To work comfortably, we opted for the Punspace coworking with its two locations, one very spacious in the old town, and another in the expatriate district with its small garden, our favorite. Both are very well located in the center, close to coffee shops, salad bar or good old bui-bui to eat local (and spicy) for one euro.
For the equivalent of a hundred euros per month we have 24/7 access to the two spaces, both very comfortable: real office chairs, kitchen, showers, meeting rooms, skype room, sofa. You quickly feel at home.
Having a comfortable workplace is great, but sharing it with other enthusiasts is even better. At Punspace, we discovered a lot of different profiles and a lot of personalities. Everyone is there for the same reason: “get shit done”, whether for a few days or like us for several months. We met developers, designers, bloggers, entrepreneurs. It’s a great inspiring atmosphere and a lot more motivating than working at home. The breaks are conducive to meetings and we quickly make friends. Conferences organized on subjects such as bitcoin, “boosting your startup in Asia” or e-commerce, as well as meet-ups in bars are perfect for meeting the community of digital-nomads.
With a cowork, the entire environment is nourishing. We don’t necessarily spend more time working, but we work more efficiently, with more perspective and with a more global vision.
Obviously for a project we were working on in parallel with our studies, leaving our home to settle in a coworking room was extremely rewarding. By leaving our comfort zone, we were able to make lots of new meetings that allow us to hear new opinions on the project. We can have different profiles try the application and get critical feedback on many aspects such as design, user experience or code. We can also talk about Debtr as a whole and broaden our vision.
Meeting other entrepreneurs is very stimulating and has broadened our vision. We understand, for example, that a business model brings real legitimacy to the service by making it credible. It may seem obvious, yet I had a hard time conceiving of a business model as anything other than a brake for the user, especially when Debtr is not a service intended for professionals but for everyone. This is a point that I needed to understand and assimilate to fully integrate it into my vision. The challenge is not only to make a good application, it is above all to develop a “healthy” business model to make the service viable over time and that it can continue to evolve.
No matter what area we have a problem in, in a cowork there will always be someone to get us out of trouble or to advise us. So for an entrepreneurial project with which we have everything to learn, this is the best, especially with a project that touches on many areas. Our weak point is communication and we learned a lot on this subject with communication and advertising aces. Even if we don’t have the same vision, it opens the mind and gives ideas.
Today Debtr v2 is out and is gaining traction. We have a well-loaded roadmap with features that we can’t wait to unveil, but above all we have a long-term vision with concrete ideas for monetization. We have never had so much pleasure working on Debtr since we moved to a cowork. We are convinced that Debtr users will see the progress and will be proud to have been “early adopters”!
From a personal point of view, changing my environment has allowed me to take new habits and new resolutions. I took the opportunity to radically change my rhythm of life and finally put into practice what I was reading here on Medium. From now on I try to go to bed early, before 9 p.m., which allows me to work in the morning, when I am most creative. I took up meditation, yoga and exercise regularly. These new practices have a direct impact on my productivity and my creativity.
No matter what we do, our work is the fruit of our efforts and the product of our personality. By changing our life, we give ourselves the means to move forward and evolve, this is obviously reflected in what we create day by day. In the space of a few months I have made dozens of meetings and some have led to strong friendships. I am immersed in a Buddhist culture which inspires me strongly. I feel that I am thriving, both humanely and professionally, and that this directly benefits Debtr.