In the new episode of LEAP, we hear Federico’s exciting journey with Startuplifers. Read on to find out how he ended up moving to San Francisco, working for two different startups and later shifted into a digital nomad lifestyle while travelling around the world.
Today, Federico lives in Finland and continues to work for Webflow remotely. So how did it all happen?
Getting the Job Through Startuplifers
Originally from Italy, Federico moved to Finland to pursue his master’s degree at Aalto University. He heard about Startuplifers while studying at Aalto and decided to apply. He was then introduced to an early stage startup called Seeds based in San Francisco.
Federico recalls that the interview process was relatively simple. He spoke to the CEO a couple of times and surprisingly there was no technical interview (like most technical roles tend to have). After receiving a job offer from Seeds, Federico jumped on a plane and moved to San Francisco in the summer of 2017.
Moving to San Francisco and Working at an Early Stage Startup
Living in California and Silicon Valley had always been a dream for Federico. Joining an early stage startup, he was able to contribute to the business from day one. What’s more, being the only engineer at Seeds, he was given a lot of responsibility from the start:
“I was the only engineer and I was hired to build the basics for a recommendation system” he says. The recommendation system was very similar to his previous thesis project. Later, he ended up working on something totally different as he went on to create a cryptocurrency as well as an ICO.
The team at Seeds was small, consisting of just three people led by a non technical CEO. Four months into the job, things didn’t quite work out at the company resulting in all employees being laid off. Federico describes his experience as a rollercoaster – a very truthful startup experience:
“You arrive at the new job, you get so much responsibility and you get to build these crazy things. And a week after you are laid off”.
Landing a Job With Webflow As a Software Engineer
After the team at Seeds was laid off, it was time to find a new job in San Francisco. Federico applied for a bunch of different companies. With the help of Startuplifers, he also managed to get some new contacts. One of the companies introduced by Startuplifers was Webflow – a company creating a visual web design platform.
The interview process with the company went smoothly:“They had trust in the program because they had hired two great engineers through Startuplifers before” Federico says. He was first hired as a contractor for a week’s trial. After the trial, the company made their final decision and hired him as a software engineer in 2018.
Being a remote-first company already prior to Covid-19 pandemic, Webflow had developed processes that were optimized for remote work. How can a remote-first company then build a good company culture? The goal is to keep a strong culture inside the company and build personal relationships, Federico says. Webflow still flies their people to San Francisco for HQ visits and has yearly retreats for the whole company in locations like Portugal, Mexico, and Canada.
Living the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Federico left San Francisco in February 2019 when his visa expired. He decided to live as a digital nomad as he was able to continue to work for Webflow remotely. He travelled through Asia visiting countless countries including Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Bali. He also visited a bunch of countries in South America and Southern Africa. Federico would stay in some places only for a few days while months in others enjoying the digital nomad lifestyle to the fullest:
Digital Nomad Communities and Services
As the digital nomad lifestyle has increased its popularity during the past few years, many services have started to arise for people that have shifted to remote work. Federico was using a service called Hacker Paradise. The service is designed for digital nomads which includes organizing trips all over the world while providing accommodation, co-working spaces, events and communities.
According to Federico, digital nomad communities are also a great way to make friends along travels:
“You meet a lot of people,” he says. Many are just acquaintances but some of them lead to closer friendships, especially within the Hacker Paradise community. “Some people I met on my very first trip in Taiwan, I met again a few months later on a different trip in Cape Town. We then decided to travel together.”
The Downsides of Working and Travelling
Even though life as a digital nomad can seem like an endless adventure with great freedom, it does come with some downsides.
According to Federico, the most difficult part of working remotely as a digital nomad is the time zone differences. As teams can be as much as 16 hours apart, meetings can take place any time of the day. According to Federico, the role you’re in has its impact. If you are an individual contributor or a freelancer, it’s doable. However, if you work in a managerial role, it can be challenging to enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle as these positions generally require more interaction with your team.
After his travels around the world, Federico returned to Finland where he continues to work for Webflow remotely. So looking back at your experience in San Francisco and life as a digital nomad, what would you tell someone considering to apply to Startuplifers?
“The first step is to apply, I totally recommend it” he says. “San Francisco is a great place, so if you have a chance, go!” You can always start remotely and relocate later. It’s a unique opportunity to build a global network and a great chance to be exposed to many more opportunities, he adds.
Tune in now to hear the whole story. Available on all major podcast platforms.
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