I read a sentence this morning in Forbes magazine, publication for wealthy individuals and/or individuals who aspire to wealth, and I had no idea what it meant. Not even the faintest flicker of recognition. Absolutely nothing. Can you help?
Unleash Surf is the world’s first digital nomad travel company for entrepreneurs who surf.
What is digital nomad travel?
Is that what we do? I mean, not “we” as in me n Derek n Longtom n Jen n Trav n etc. but, like, “we” as in upwardly mobile young-ish surfers?
I have to read the interview with Amy Schwartz and her partner John Furness to discover. Want to with me?
“When we hatched the idea, we were digital nomads in Peru, surfing every day and living a more relaxed lifestyle,” explains cofounder Amy Schwartz, who created the company with her partner, John Furness. Schwartz had heard of companies that help remote workers travel the world, but none that cater specifically to surfers with barefoot living in off-the-beaten-path locations, a variety of waves, private apartments and reliable internet 24-7.
So they launched a remote working concept in Peru in early 2018, and the results have been more impressive than the founders ever expected. “We didn’t set out with a cliche goal of changing lives — we just wanted Unleash to open our clients to the practical possibility of taking their work remote while surfing and experiencing a new place,” says Schwartz. “Many of our clients have reshaped their jobs, their priorities and their lives.”
We caught up with Schwartz and Furness to find out how Unleash Surf is catering to a group of digital nomads who take their work seriously but want more time to embrace slow travel. And we found out their tips for starting and running a business.
I still have absolutely no idea. Let’s skim the interview ok?
What inspired you to create Unleash Surf?
John Furness: I created my business so I could work remotely and travel, but like many small business owners with that dream, my mortgage and lifestyle closed in on me and I forgot that I could make that leap if I wanted to. For years Amy and I had planned on taking a few months to live and surf somewhere warm, where the internet was good enough for me to run my business. Three years ago we decided to escape the winter, so we bought plane tickets to Peru — where Amy had done her masters studies — and rented an apartment in a small, wave-rich town. I converted the extra bedroom into an office, upgraded the internet and we spent our days living the lifestyle we’d dreamed of: surfing as often as we wanted, getting our work done, no commuting, exploring Peru and going on adventures to places like Machu Picchu and Lobitos. We ate fresh healthy foods, made friends and we built a community in a new place. We realized how happy, healthy and productive we were on that trip and wondered how we could create a business that offered other people a similar experience, without quitting their job.
Still nothing. Do we keep going?
How does Unleash Surf work? Tell me about the business model.
Schwartz: People who come on Unleash are generally successful entrepreneurs, freelancers or people who work for cool companies that encourage remote work. Or they’re taking time to cultivate new ideas. Our groups are small, with 8-10 people from all over the world. People who come on Unleash aren’t necessarily beginner remote-workers, though: Many are experienced digital nomads or remote workers who are a bit further along in their careers and don’t have the time or energy to do all the legwork. With Unleash, they just have to show up, surf, get their work done and enjoy the amazing place we’re in.
Our clients come for two weeks, one month and up to three months. We ensure that when they get off the plane, they don’t miss a beat in terms of feeling at home. John and I personally take them to their fully-equipped apartment, then on a walking tour of the surf spots, markets, restaurants, juice stands and surf shops. We introduce them to our friends and make sure they have everything they need to get to work or to get in the water as soon as they need.
If I used emojis I’d use the one with the puzzled face right here but make it a lighter shade of brown to reflect Peru.
What’s in store for 2019?
Schwartz: We’ve got a roster of fascinating workshops lined up, including learning to build a caballito de tortora — the world’s first surf craft — with a local fisherman and learning to ride it. We’ll be taking people to Peru’s second largest produce market with a chef and then doing a cooking class with them. Taking people to the hole-in-the-wall restaurant, where they make a mouth-watering pecan-sauce fish unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. And, of course, having sunset beers with the group on our cowork space balcony and doing dance classes in traditional Peruvian marinera, which has some similarities to flamenco.
If they did Cocaine + Surfing tours I’d totally go. Wait, is that digital nomad travel means? Cocaine + Surfing? Buy here!