There’s an old parable of a traveler who came upon three men working. He asked the first man what he was doing and the man said he was laying bricks. He asked the second man the same question and he said he was putting up a wall. When he got to the third man and asked him what he was doing he said: I am building a cathedral.
Knowing what we are building is useful, not just for the inspiration of knowing the big picture, but in seeing how each small act adds up to something worthwhile. It matters how we lay the bricks, to whether it ever turns into a cathedral. It matters whether the foundations are stone or sand if it is to last a thousand years.
What are we building? The biggest problem freelancers report is the lack of security and income stability that they used to get through governments and employers, that they don’t get anymore. Our goal is to build a global safety net for online freelancers to address that.
Our first brick is our first product. It’s called Nomad Insurance. It’s an international medical insurance, tailored to the pioneers of the new world, the digital nomads. That’s why it’s available worldwide, and it covers you worldwide, because digital nomads are mobile and not primarily geographically defined.
Our first wall, is a global safety net for people working on the internet: freelancers, entrepreneurs and digital nomads. This means adding income stabilization, to solve the problem of freelancers variable income. It means a complete health care product. And pensions. And disability care. In the end we want to offer it all as a single membership, taking the best from the Norwegian safety net, and making it available on the internet.
We believe that in order to succeed in offering a safety net that feels like it cares, we must also build a trusted community of peers. Therefore we are investing early in building an online-and offline community for our users, with embassies in cities around the world. We aim to strengthen these strong social bonds online and offline, by hosting events and introducing members to each other. Ultimately we want to create the experience of always have your village nearby, wherever you are in the world.
These sorts of things, safety nets and income protection, have often been the domain of countries. In the long-run, we are building something that may grow into the first country on the internet.
Why are we building it? What seems to happen each time the Internet touches an industry, is that first the current structures fragment and collapse. Then there is a period of chaotic interlude, until it is reconstituted in a new structure more suited to the new technological environment.
The Internet brought a new method of communication and coordination. That rendered the old and expensive structures (like music stores or video rental stores) obsolete.
It seems natural that this pattern of fragmentation and reconstitution will also happen in the areas that today is in the domain of countries. In fact it is fair to say it is already happening. Even in strong safety nets like Norway’s, freelancers fall between the cracks and cannot access the support systems made for full time employees, like unemployment protection, sick leave and pensions.
The freelancer world is still a wild west, and there are already over 120 million of them working online. I am confident that this change is already overdue. While I still think countries will exist in the far future, their function may be have to be revised to deal with the reality of more mobile people, working online as freelancers.
They report that their biggest problem is the lack of security and income stability that they used to get through governments and employers. The current structures have become inadequate. What has yet to emerge, is a new structure to fill the void where responsibility have been abdicated.
We think that needs to be a global safety net for online freelancers. And that’s what we’re aiming to build.
Follow our startup journey on Instagram and meet incredible digital nomads who are paving the way for a new, better way to work.