I'm Marcus Meurer, founder of the first digital nomad conference DNX, AMA

Hi fellow Nomads,
I’m Marcus, the founder of DNX GLOBAL, the first conference for Digital Nomads.
Together with my girlfriend @Feli we have worked and lived as Digital Nomads in 20 countries over the span of three years.
At the moment we are working from Taganga, a small fisher village at the caribbean coast of Colombia.

Originally employed at several start-up companies in tech hotspot Berlin, Felicia and me left our jobs behind to embrace self-employment and travel.

Some countries were very challenging: In the fisher village El Nido, Philippines, there was no power supply until 4 p.m. Myanmar and Belize came with very limited Internet access as well.
In Brazil you need a local tax number to buy a local SIM card. However, we found perfect conditions for Digital Nomads in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and most of the European countries.

Despite our constant roaming, we have an interest in creating services and products of real value to clients. When going on the road we started with freelancing and offering services like website coding, personal branding, and marketing consulting. We also run a German backpacking and adventure travel blog called “Travelicia,” in which we share our experiences.

To meet the wishes of other nomads and address the concerns of potential-nomads, we launched the first German DNX - Digital Nomad Conference in Berlin in May 2014.

This summer on 1st of August we are doing the first international conference for Digital Nomads - DNX GLOBAL in Berlin. The line-up for the main event includes bestselling Amazon author Natalie Sisson, TED Conference speaker Derek Sivers, long term traveling Digital Nomad Cody McKibben and international travel blogger Sabrina Iovino. The day before the main event we will do workshops to spread awareness of self-employment options for travel enthusiasts.

Ask me about being on the road as a couple. Ask me about work environment and setting in countries in Asia, Central America, South America and Europe. Ask me about the ups and downs in Digital Nomad life. Ask me about handling with common prejudices from people and the press. Ask me about the challenges and learnings being on the road for 3 years.

I am sure Digital Nomads from all over the world start to design their life in a way that creates more value for them and their environment.

Hi Marcus! Thanks for being here :smile:

Can you tell me what the prejudices are that you faced?

Hey Peter,
Thx for having me here :smile:

Just to mention a few of the prejudices I have been facing over the time…
Some are reasonable, some are bullshit.
Many prejudices are constructed by people that are stucked in the system and frustrated by their job and life.

  1. Digital Nomads are selfish self-optimizers
  2. DN make use of geo-arbitrage and harming the country by doing that
  3. DN do not pay proper taxes
  4. DN raise the CO2 emission
  5. DN are always on holiday
  6. DN have to travel all the time otherwise they are not “real” DN
  7. All DN do useless stuff that is paid low so they are forced to live in a cheap country
  8. All DN travel on a low budget in low-cost countries
  9. All DN are travel bloggers
  10. DN travel when they are young, don’t think about pension plan and have to make use of the social system when they are old
  11. DN are missionize their whole environment and try to convince them to also start that lifestyle
  12. All DN must have rich parents or inherited
  13. DN cannot maintain deep relationships
  14. You cannot do that lifestyle in a relationship or as a couple
  15. DN do not have a homeland
  16. DN miss important stuff at “home” while being on the road
1 Like

Hello Marcus,
I’m sorry for my lame English :slight_smile:

I lot of people are motivated by seeing ‘other people doing it’ (e.g. digital nomads) and start thinking that this road is something that they might want to go.

Then I gave up on everything, I didn’t even hear about digital nomads. Probably, you didn’t too. So what was your motivation? Who inspired you to crave your own road and go against the grain? And how did you end up calling yourself a ‘digital nomad’?

What has been your favourite country so far? You know my answer :wink:

Hey @skat ,
You are right, when we started there were not many people around us doing the same stuff on the road.

To be honest I did not even hear about Digital Nomads before we went on our first trip to Asia.
My girlfriend @Feli is a travel junky and quit her job because she needed more freedom again for herself. She wanted to take a 6 month break and had already a contract with AIDA to work on a cruise ship after that break.
I quit my job at the same time to have more personal freedom and make my own thing. I founded a company in Berlin and went on the Asia trip together with Feli. The plan was to start an Online Marketing agency because I already had quite a few inquiries for helping other companies in growing traffic, leads and sales via my personal network.
After traveling for some weeks we were stucked on a rooftop in a hostel in Dumaguete, Philippines. There was a big typhoon that forced us to stay in the hostel for 3 days. I read an eBook of a colleague who quit his job just a moment before going into a burnout.
@Feli also read the book while stucked in Dumaguete and slowly but steadily we got our first ideas about starting something on our own. Feli wanted to write an eBook about all her travel experiences. From eBook we came to a Travel blog on a professional level.
We started a tiny blog before going on the trip for our parents and other relatives.
After some days we were convinced and full of power to give it a try and take the travel blog on the next level. We started to work day and nite on the blog. Felicia was doing the content and I was working on the reach. We launched the new version of the blog from the small fisher village El Nido, Palawan Philippines where you do not have power supply until 4 pm. But we were so focussed and on fire, totally into our passion that these circumstances did not were a big deal.
We launched the new version of Travelicia and started to gain traffic and reach. We did our first affiliate marketing income and had the proof of concept: You could work from anywhere in the world and make money. The next weeks of our trip we started several services to get some clients for the start. We built different brands like Rock my Site, Wundersite and Online Angels. We offered building websites, working on personal branding and consulting companies in Online Marketing topics.
The good thing is that our skills complemented and matched in a perfect way.
In the next weeks we could celebrate more small successes on our way to become location independent.
In the meantime we discovered that there were already some people living that lifestyle on the road and started to connect with them.
So we stepped into that lifestyle without knowing in upfront that there are already doing some people the same and that it is working.
Back in Berlin we did a meetup in a park with the handful other Digital Nomads at that time. We found out that also the other Digital Nomads got the same questions via their websites. Something like “Hey, great lifestyle. I wanna do this too. Which skills do I need and what are the first steps?”.
@Feli and me decided then to organize a come together in Berlin with the other Digital Nomads and people that are interested at that lifestyle or already living the lifestyle.
Important for us is to motivate people to find their passion and start valuable businesses. No Internet Marketing scam! Thats deeply anchored in our mission statement of the DNX.
We launched the sale from Caye Caulker, Belize a small island in the caribbean sea. The first spots of the first DNX were sold out within 30 minutes. So I had recent Skype calls with the location betahaus in Berlin. At the end we got the whole floor and sold 200 spots out in just 3 days. What a feeling.
Since then we did 2 successful DNX in Berlin, will do the next German DNX in May 2015 and will go international with DNX GLOBAL in summer 2015.
DNX is the passion of our life and we would like to motivate more and more people to start the lifestyle as a Digital Nomad!

1 Like

Hey @jonbstrong, it’s quite hard to pick one out of the beautiful countries and people we met.
If I have to decide which is the best one I would go for the Philippines :wink:

@marcusmeurer, I was in Berlin during your last DNX, but didn’t go because of the 200 EUR price tag. I figured it’s mostly for people who don’t have much experience and look for some positive reinforcement and role models.

Don’t you make it a very passive event by charging so much? People go there with high expectations and you probably need to spend a lot on high-class speakers. If you lower that entry barrier, you may attract more experienced nomads as well (like people from this forum), which could lead to a more dynamic exchange of ideas.

1 Like

Hey @manu, thx for your feedback.
The DNX GLOBAL is for people who are interested in becoming a Digital Nomad, but also for people who already started their own business and make money.
I know from these group of DNX attendees, that they grew their business & took it on the next level via connecting with fellow nomads, attending the higher level DNX workshops and the take-aways form the DNX hands-on talks.
Tickets for the international DNX GLOBAL start at € 97 in early bird ending in 2 weeks. The last minute tickets are the most expensive ones.
We would like the people to take an early decision on participating at DNX GLOBAL, the better we could plan the event make the best experience possible for every single attendee. In case of that plans are changing you still have the option to make a free namechange.
The ticket price covers our expenses such as 19% taxes, speaker fees, location, catering & drinks, fees for ticketing & payment system…

What is the price point at which you would attend?
We already have a lot of experienced nomads on our DNX events, exchanging their ideas face to face and we hope you will be one of them on the 1st of August in Berlin.

1 Like

@marcusmeurer: It’s probably not efficient for you to lower the price for the whole event, while people are paying. If I knew nothing, I’d probably pay up as well.

My main suggestion would be to open the evening networking events to a wider audience. If you pick a bar, the location won’t cost too much. Make 2 colors of badges: veteran nomads and those interested in becoming nomadic. Entrance is free with a ticket, Without ticket charge 25–30 EUR, including two standard drinks. (Internations-style). Your benefit: full-paying visitors get more tips and can have more conversations. Make some team-building exercise to split people in groups and initiate discussions.

Hey @marcusmeurer and @Feli thanks for being here! Experience in El Nido and Taganga is something I know very well :slight_smile:

What steps did you take to become a digital nomad 3 years ago? Were there any obstacles you had to overcome?

I completely agree with the prejudice list of yours, I’ve faced them way too often. I’ve been working on the road for the last 5 years slow traveling through SE Asia, South and North Americas, Europe. I’m planning to be in Europe around the time of the conference, let me know if I can help with anything - organizing or sharing my own 5 years long digital nomad journey, lessons learned, etc. I’m also interviewing remarkable nomads for #Nomads community, let me know if you’d be interested in an interview :wink:

Hey @manu, thx for your ideas and recommendations making the DNX GLOBAL even better.

We tried the color thing, but many people don’t like to be “classified”.
Our networking event the day before the main event is free for all who have a ticket.

We would also love to give you and the other people from this forum the opportunity to join the networking event for free.
@all: Send me a PM with your name and I will get you on the guest list for our DNX GLOBAL networking event in Berlin on July the 31.

1 Like

Hey @marinajaneiko!
One of the biggest obstacles was to get away from the “corporate style”. The way we communicated with others, to get out of the perfectionism modus and to realize that you don’t have any more restrictions / people to ask… We really worked too long in corporate world before :wink:

And of course to get to the point to start this lifestyle together :smile:

When we started we went “all in” quitted our jobs, registered a company and subrented our flat longterm. We sold our stuff and put the little rest into a storage box in Berlin (its still there > 2 bags :). We directly started traveling and took first freelancing work that came across via Xing, the German LinkedIn while preparing our own businesses. Regarding our businesses we struggled what to offer. First we wanted to offer everything we can (the good thing is that our skills match very good) but understood quickly that all is like nothing.

As for everyone (I guess) it was very exhausting to explain everything to friends and family. It took a while until they understood our decision but luckily accept it now :smile:

For the interview yes, we would like to join! Thank you for your offer to help at DNX. We keep that in mind. It would be great to get to know you in person.

AMA is now closed. Thanks @marcusmeurer for doing this AMA and answering all questions.

1 Like