29
37 Comments

I'm the co-founder of Remote, a $1B+ company with zero offices & 300+ employees. AMA.

Hi everyone!

I'm the co-founder and CEO of Remote (that is remote.com).

We started Remote in 2019 and started accepting customers in May 2020. Since then, we've grown quite a bit. We're definitely not very indie anymore, having raised almost $200M so far from Accel, Index, Sequoia and others.

Before Remote, I was the third employee at GitLab, and worked there as VP of Product. There I saw the massive upside of building a fully remote company, and wanted to make that possible for others.

I'm the dad of two small kids who were both born prematurely and live in a suburb in the Netherlands together with them and my wife. I love programming, playing games (video and board), and cycling.

Ask me anything!

  1. 5

    Aspirational. Thanks for doing this ama too.

    1. What's your Twitter :)

    2. You're in the eu, you have kids. That's a bit different from typical silicon Valley founder that raises VC money.

      • has there been any friction with investors because of it? Are they reticent to invest in a co-founder that has other responsabilities, like a family?
      • how do you do it? How do you balance growing a startup at such an insane speed (congrats btw) and just being there for your family? As well as having moments of downtime and relaxation?
      • does your wife help at all or get involved in your founder-stuff?

    Cheers!

    1. 7
      1. @Jobvo
        2:

      There has not been any friction with investors, not that I know of at least. If you don't believe that someone can live a normal life next to running a company, then you should probably not invest in a company whose mission it is to give further freedoms to people.

      how do you do it? How do you balance growing a startup at such an insane speed (congrats btw) and just being there for your family? As well as having moments of downtime and relaxation?

      Prioritization and blocking my calendar. I can only focus on very very few things if I want to do them well. My family time, which is a large part of my day, is a hard block and I almost never make exceptions to that (maybe once every 3 months). I cook for my family, put my kids in bath and bed, and spend time with my wife.

      Rest and relaxation is important to function at a high level. I consider it part of my work to make sure I'm well-rested (as far as possible as a dad of young kids), and that I find downtime / fun things outside of work.

      does your wife help at all or get involved in your founder-stuff?

      Without Carla, Remote wouldn't exist at all. She helps me with everything in life, and is a busy scientist herself.

  2. 2

    How did you get your first 10 customers?

  3. 2

    Great going!!... what is your pricing model and revenue?

    1. 1

      We charge per employee per month. We don't share our revenue, but it's in the 8 digits ARR.

  4. 2

    Hi Jobvo, mountain bike or road? 😉

    1. 1

      Both!

      I have a gravel bike now, and am eyeing a new road bike (a Tarmac SL7). I live in the Netherlands, so there are not too many great place to mountain bike, but I am looking to try it out here.

  5. 2

    hi,
    at what time did you decide on the name and did you acquire the domain remote.com
    how much did it boost your company?

    1. 2

      Before founding it! It seemed like the best name, so we started the company the moment we could work with that domain.

      1. 2

        It must not have been cheap , how did you acquire it ? whats the story ? and did it have impact in providing credit to your idea before founding ?

        1. 1

          I asked the previous owner if we could take it over through a mix of cash and equity.

          And yes, I think it helped!

  6. 2

    Whoa what the?! Super dope!!!

    Have so many questions. Do you have a twitter? lol

    But I guess the main questions are,

    1. How was remote built? (Tech stack, Did you hire first or solo, etc)
    2. How did you raise 200M!? (Network, They found you, etc)
    1. 1

      Find me @Jobvo on twitter :)

      1. Remote is build with Elixir and React; Marcelo (COO) and I hired the two first engineers Eduardo and Luis a week or two after starting.
      2. Started with a smaller round, but it's very unromantic: I had some connections through GitLab, and networked through those. We're very lucky with our early investors, and they have all participated in all rounds so far!
  7. 2

    Hey Job, how about crypto-payroll?
    Do you have any plan or looking partner to integrate crypto-payroll to Remote?

    1. 1

      We're working on something, but want to be super thoughtful about this.

      That said, if we pay someone as an employer in a country, we (almost) always have to pay local currency, exactly as the payslip states. Local governments aren't all excited about crypto yet!

  8. 1

    Congratualtions ! I have read that Remote is developed using Elixir (that's my cup of tea, too), can you tell us a bit about the pros and cons of choosing it as main language ?

  9. 1

    This is truly amazing, congratulations on your achievements!

    You are a true inspiration to me, I just followed you on Twitter.

    I'm from the Netherlands too, just started traveling and become a so called digital nomad half a year ago trying to MVP my ideas.

    I was wondering...

    • How many days/weeks after launch did you get your first paying customer?
    • What was the key to that paying customer? Why he chose to pay, why Remote and not a competitor? Had it to do with the service itself or on how you treated him/her/organisation?
    • How did you measure "success" in the early stage? With the number of paying customers, number of website visitors, or...? And with that, did you focus on digital organic traffic, or did the start really begin from close connections in your network?
      • If organically; how did you iteratie Remote and how did you track progress? What was "successful progress" in your minds, and what felt like the key activities to push that further?

    Sorry, seems a bit long and much, but I'm just really curious.

  10. 1

    WoW! What an achievement.

    Highly inspiring. Congrats!

    BTW, how you came up with this idea? how you validated it? how you calculated the total market size in terms of revenue?

  11. 1

    Congrats!

    1. What are the best tips for managing people who working remotely, async?
    2. What are the best tips for yourself?
    3. If you would need to start startup from 0 - what would you choose?
    1. 1
      1. Assume good intent. Connect sync whenever you feel like it: don't be dogmatic about doing everything async. For some people it's easier to talk about how you feel when you see someone else.
      2. Plenty of breaks and coffee.
      3. Something related to space. I think the future will play a lot outside of earth, and it'd be cool to contribute to that.
  12. 1

    A year to build it, you run it for a year and its worth $1B ? WOW! So this sounds like less of an app and more of a global effort to understand payroll, taxes and labor law in a lot of countries with the legal requirement of compliance on the one side and the desire for companies to hire cheap remote labor on the other side. The app in the middle is just for coordination and reporting right? It's not really about the tech, its about the certifiably correct local knowledge.

    What percentage of your 300 employees are in-country accounting/legal/labor experts? You must have a point person in each country, correct?

    I almost got involved in something like this involving medical conference/pharmaceutical compliance in international conference attendance. Every country had rules about how you could entice doctors to prescribe your drugs etc.

    What other international compliance driven areas of opportunity do you see outside of labor law and income? Do you plan to grow into any of them?

    1. 1

      What percentage of your 300 employees are in-country accounting/legal/labor experts? You must have a point person in each country, correct?

      To a degree, we all become experts. But I'd guess about 1/3 of the organization is involved in local operations, some of which are experts.
      For some countries we have experts for that region (they don't necessarily live there!), but for others we can rely e.g. on local counsel that works with us.

      What other international compliance driven areas of opportunity do you see outside of labor law and income? Do you plan to grow into any of them?

      Completely unsolved is multi-country taxes for individuals that move between countries. Not necessarily nomads, but moreso people that move from one country to another.
      Very hard to address and make scalable, but I'd invest in anyone trying :)

      1. 1

        @jobvo I am a lawyer and an indie hacker and would be very much interested in discussing your compliance issues with multi-country taxes. I thought about this problem already and discussed it with a couple of tax lawyers and it is not impossible to develop a scalable API solution for that problem. I would need to know more about your needs though, so it would be great to chat about that with you or anyone in your company!

  13. 1

    Hey thanks for the ama!

    Did you leave your current employee as soon as you knew you would start remote?

    How would you describe the transition from being employed at GitLab and suddenly being self employed with a fast growing company?

    Thank you for your time!

    1. 1

      It took me a few months to prepare to start Remote, while I worked at GitLab.

      I told Sid (CEO GitLab) of my plan a few months in advance. I left GitLab and started Remote officially about 10 days later.

  14. 1

    How did you validate the idea before you started building the product? You had to niche down to very specific target audience in the beginning probably.

    I'm asking because I haven't validate my idea yet and struggling to find customers.

    1. 2

      I was well aware that there was a need for this, and I was confident that this need would increase over time.

      I had no idea how to get customers, but by being vocal on the internet about remote work, they came to us!

  15. 1

    Thanks for taking the time to do this! You're a huge inspiration to us indie hackers.

    I noticed you mentioned the importance of prioritization and blocking your calendar. I've found that constantly switching between multiple ongoing projects can destroy overall progress.

    Do you think it's generally better just go "all-in" on one project/task at a time? And for your calendar - I'm curious, do you just have a calendar like "I'm going to get X task done by Y date and time?"

    1. 1

      Focus means doing fewer things, so yes!

      And tasks - to a degree. I have few "get X done" tasks, and moreso a lot of meetings, and or higher-level tasks like "decide on strategy for Y".

      I do have to sign a lot (A LOT) of documents, and I have blocks in my calendar for that.

  16. 1

    Being able to live where you want and still have a great career is awesome. Thank you for the AMA:)

    Here are my questions:

    • I see that Remote is handling a lot of the hard problems programmers most likely wouldn't want to touch. Was this the idea from day one or a pivot after working on something else?

    • What are the most constructive career experiences and skills for you to get to where you are today?

    • Is being a programmer or CEO more enjoyable for you?

    1. 4

      We didn't pivot from something else, and generally don't find it hard to find people to work on these things. Besides the hard stuff you don't want to touch, there are infinite things you can happily touch :)
      Good tests help too, I suppose.

      I have a few moments in my career that stand out. First, I worked at a supermarket for a while, filling the shelves. I hated that with all my heart and that taught me the value of doing something you love to do.
      Second, working in neuroscience, I learned that hard problems are super fun to work on, as they can't be solved by BS - but rather only by hard and smart work.
      And lastly, working at GitLab helped me navigate how to build a fast-growing company, especially one that is distributed.

      I love being a CEO as a job, and see programming more as a hobby. No code of mine has ever made it to production at Remote and everyone is benefitting from that ;-)

      1. 1

        I'm curious what else have you learned from working in a supermarket? Also a bit curious if it was AH or Jumbo? 😅

        1. 1

          I worked at the AH in Zaandam!

          And I don't think I learned much else, except that you always have to treat everyone very nicely, ESPECIALLY if they work in such a place. You're faced with a lot of ugly looks and words there.
          That, and the ability to flatten cardboard boxes quickly without the use of tools.

  17. 1

    Hi Job! What life events, people and/or actions do you feel got you to where you are professionally right now?

    1. 3

      I answered something similar above, but there are two people that stand out:

      1. Carla, my wife. She has been my number one supported and I couldn't have done any of this without her support.
      2. Marcelo, my co-founder. We have a completely unfiltered relationship, and fully trust each other. That makes it very easy to move as one strong unit. We have many disagreements, but never without a loss of trust of confidence in the other.
  18. 1

    Hey Job, how do you build your team culture as a remote team? What are some things you do to keep everyone engaged and to create opportunities for team members to socialize?

    1. 2

      Great question!

      First off: you have be intentional about doing something, and continue to iterate on it - what works with a small team, might not work with a larger team.

      Culture means a lot, but we build ours on the foundation of our values: Kindness, Ownership, Excellence, Transparency and Ambition. Living up to those values is always celebrate, and we try to work according to them whenever we do anything.

      To get to know each other we do many different things. Our team is now big enough that there are many many opt-in ways to connect. Some examples:

      1. Everyone at Remote gets an Oculus Quest 2, so you can hangout/ play games in VR
      2. We have slack channels with activities for almost every hobby.
      3. Team members are randomly matched after every all-hands meeting to hang out and socialize
      4. We have weekly game events, where we play games together
      5. There are set and ad-hoc coffee-chats for anyone to opt-in
      6. We try to have 'hangouts': usually audio-only rooms where you can e.g. work and talk at the same time. Or just talk!
      7. We play games together. We have a DnD campaign, there's a Minecraft server

      It always helps to just talk to each other. Even async and/or on Slack.

      One important thing to remember for larger teams: you don't need to know and socialize with everyone. You didn't meet all your 400 colleagues in the office, you won't (although it's easier!) in a remote setting either.

Trending on Indie Hackers
I will promote your startup to 50K+ people 65 comments I made Session, a productivity timer that makes $5K/month in net profit, AMA! 21 comments I built an NFT Guide site. Feedback welcome! 15 comments I've teased this project for a while. Initial thoughts on this landing page? 12 comments Only 30 days! We finished a great Etsy products research tool 10 comments #1 on Product Hunt with an open-source project 8 comments