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NomadX Live Interview with Nacho Rodriguez

🔥 NomadX Live Interview with Nacho Rodriguez, Founder of NomadCity.org, repeople.co and several initiatives all focused on creating an ecosystem for remote workers in the Canary Islands.🔥

👉🏼 We will be talking about remote work, entrepreneurship, coliving, remote work conferences, coworking, community and digital nomadism on the island, currently ranked #9 top destination by Nomad List. Nacho is a global leader in socio economic transformation, promoting values of distributed work, and creating a “living lab” in the Canary Islands. His remote work Repeople Conference is taking place in June 2021 on the Island.💣 💥

🌴 Some of the highlights in Gran Canaria include⬇️

✨ Las Palmas capital city

✨ Fast wifi

✨ Weather

✨ Schools

✨ Healthcare

✨ Cost

✨ Food

✨ Friendliness

✨ Relaxed

✨ Convenience

✨ Comfort

✨ Hiking

✨ Surf

🔥 Watch our next interviews! Join our community Facebook.com/groups/nomadx

Interview Transcription

Dave:

Hello, NomadX travel community. We are super excited for the event today. It’s 3:00 PM in Portugal, UK time, and we have with us, or have joined us today is Nacho Rodriguez. Nacho is from the Grand Canary Islands. He’s a remote worker. He’s helping to lead this real global movement with really a start in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, the Grand Canary Islands. If you don’t know about the Grand Canary Islands, they are currently number nine on the Nomad List, and we’re just waiting for Nacho to join us, which I think he’ll be joining us here in a couple minutes. But in the meantime, if you guys have anything that you’re interested in learning about Las Palmas, please type in the comments, we will get back to you. Likes, ask questions, anything, any interest that you have, we’ve got Nacho. He should be joining us

here. I’m really excited to speak with Nacho here. We’ll be going live for about 30 minutes or so. But he’s got a really, really amazing background. Oh, hey Nacho, how are you doing, man?

Nacho Rodriguez:

Hey Dave. Great, great. Thank you for having me.

Dave:

Yeah, thanks so much. Yeah, we’re super excited to have you on the show. I’ve been hearing so much about you from the community. I think I’ve been to a couple of conferences that you’ve either organized or been involved with related to remote work, and you’re just doing some amazing work down in the Grand Canary Islands, which I’ve been hearing a lot about. I haven’t actually been there myself, but it is pretty close to us here in Portugal, and I think it’s the Southern most island group in Europe, if that’s right?

Nacho Rodriguez:

Correct. We are the warm side of Europe.

Dave:

Yeah. That’s awesome, man. A lot of nomads, they love going there this time of year because they’re all chasing the sun. That’s right.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Correct. It’s been traditionally a tourism destination for various decades, and we’ve been working on this concept of remote work and promoting the destination for digital nomads for the last six years. And already back six years ago, it was already started to grow organically as a destination for digital nomads too.

Dave:

That’s amazing. I was noticing, I guess you have a couple of businesses that you have there. One is called Repeople which you’ve been running, it looks like, for about six years. And I was reading… It and it sounds very interesting because you’re very focused with the socioeconomic transformation of the island. And this is your first… This is what you’re calling, I guess, your living lab is the way you refer to it, if that’s right. So I’d love to learn more about what you’ve been doing there and the initiatives that you’ve been undertaking. And I think it’s a real model for other places around the world. I know in Madeira we’ve got an initiative going on and it looks we’ve cut and paste a lot of your information and hopefully this will become a trend throughout the world with you really being a leader for this whole initiative.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Totally. And Madeira has a lot of common things with the Canary Islands. We’re an archipelago also as part of the Macaronesia archipelago, and the same impact that we can generate here can be extrapolated to Madeira. I know is doing an amazing job there with the project that it’s coming up this week.

Dave:

Yeah, he’s put it together in pretty short order. I think he had the idea back in September and now we’re getting ready to launch. Or actually just launched yesterday, I guess. The co-working space will be ready on Thursday. It’s very exciting. I think everyone’s really excited to go co-work on an island. I call it Fantasy Island, where dreams are made and romances and business partnerships come together.

Nacho Rodriguez:

When you have the flexibility to work from anywhere, obviously, if you gather an interesting group of people, which is what they’ve been doing, and bring them to a very nice, beautiful place, it just makes sense. And we’re going to see a lot of these in the next year or so.

Dave:

That’s awesome. Yeah, I think there’s going to be a ton of interest. I know, for example, the country of Greece reached out to me and they want me to be on a panel. They probably should have you on the panel. Maybe I’ll make a suggestion to them. But yeah, it sounds like there’s a lot of countries that are really interested in converting some of these smaller towns or where they typically were tourist towns in the past. It’s a great way to bring in money into the economy that’s not just short touristic travel, but bring the nomads in that have a lot of knowledge and a lot to contribute to the island. Is that what you’ve been seeing locally there, where the nomads have been contributing a lot to the island and making improvements or bringing technology, expertise that they might not have had before? I’m really curious to hear about the last six years and any of the transformations that you’ve witnessed there.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Well, just to give you an example, we need to think about the large hubs around the world, where a lot of things have been happening in the past years. We think about San Francisco. We think about London. 

Also Lisbon in recent years, right? So those have been traditionally great hubs with a lot of synergies, a lot of projects, and a lot of things happening, a lot of great dynamics. And the reason for this is because there were just a bunch of very interesting people there living there that actually made those changes happen, made those interactions, made those new businesses grow. And before the transformation that we live in nowadays, somehow it was limited to those hubs. Either you flew to San Francisco and met there the investors and the right people in order to grow your business, or it was super hard.

And we’ve seen in these days that this sort of way of doing things, one way of interacting, it’s

changing drastically. And COVID has accelerated big time because the stigma that remote work had the corporate world and the investor world and the startup world even, it’s totally gone. And nowadays people can decide to build the new Facebook while living in Madeira in a beautiful village or in the Canary Islands. It doesn’t matter where you are, because you can find time wherever they are, you can build amazing teams totally distributed, and you can conquer the world from any place in the world. So you don’t have to fly and live in San Francisco with all that involves anymore in order to make it happen.

And that’s going to bring a lot of great things to a lot of locations around the world that

probably, I think, the common ground that all of them share is the fact that they provide a great quality of living. And that’s what people are going to be looking for. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a warm place. People love skiing, so it can be a resort in the middle of the mountains, the Swiss Alps. It doesn’t have to be all the warm and beach, because people have different preferences. But it’s just a matter of connecting the people that have the same preferences and making them together in the right place, creating a positive dynamic, which is what we’ve been working on in the Canaries.

Dave:

That’s amazing. So are you seeing a lot of really interesting high tech companies, entrepreneurs, consultants, freelancers coming through? Just curious of what sort of companies you’re seeing on the island and what the profile of a lot of these people that are coming through?

Nacho Rodriguez:

Well, I’m just going to give you an example. Tulsa in Oklahoma has done a great job positioning

themselves to attract individual talent, through the Tulsa Remote program that Aaron started a couple of years ago. They’ve continued to invest a good amount of money in branding and marketing, in finding the right resources to facilitate people, to relocate to Tulsa. And what has derived from this with the attraction of all this talent is that Tesla had Tulsa as one of the last options for the new Gigafactory competing with Austin, which is like comparing New York to, I don’t know, some little town in the middle of nowhere in terms of the size of city and the resources. But they were there, and the reason why, in my opinion, Tesla was evaluating Tulsa as one of the finalists for this decision is because they made the right choices. They attract the talent and big companies need talented individuals to work with them to make them thrive. So that’s what we’re working on, and a lot of other communities are working on. By attracting individuals, interesting individuals that are doing interesting stuff at the end, the companies follow. All the cities have done the opposite way. They try to attract companies, and then because they felt that if they attract companies, those companies were going to hire people’s people had to relocate to those places. But this is just a new way of playing this game.

Dave:

I’ve got some major FOMO at the moment because I was planning to go to Madeira a few days ago, but we have a little bit of a lockdown going on, so I’m just waiting for things to clear up before I land there, so I want to make sure I can go out for the drinks and the dinners and everything. But yeah, it’s really amazing. I think it’s going to be… It’s a real transformational time, it looks like. This last year was really… I look at it almost like last year was the year of the remote worker, this year it’s more the year of maybe the local nomad, and next year is really going to be the year of the global nomad, if not this year, depending on how things go. I was noticing you really have a lot of experience driving positive change on the islands, and

that’s kind of one of your mantras is you’re really looking to help drive positive change to these islands, bring high-tech workers there. I think that’s awesome. That’s what you’re seeing, I guess, through this initiative, is a lot of really great positive change on the island and people getting excited about what’s happening.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Well at the end, when you attract the right group of people to a location, first there’s the direct

economic impact of those people, obviously, living there and spending there, and using whatever resources are available there. So there’s already a direct economic impact of that task, or that mission. But what I’m most interested in is actually the fact that those people, where they’re connected to the local community, which I think is something that we’re really trying to make different. When we think about Southeast Asia, where all these movements started, in my perspective, sometimes there are some bubbles. Some bubbles of expats living there, running businesses by expats for expats.

I’m not saying it’s exactly like that, but it happens often many places, and what we’re trying to

I was born and raised here in the Canary Islands, so I’m already local trying to make this change. But one of the things that I’m really looking into very much is the fact that they

integrate with the local community, which I think it makes a huge difference, both for locals, because they actually really have access to a lot of knowledge, opportunities, just different businesses, ideas, etcetera, but also for the business, because they feel that they are much more connected. They have a much more real down to earth experience. As the Canarians live day after the other. So that’s, I think, something that people that are driving this change in other locations should aim for.

Dave:

Yeah, definitely. I think when I first arrived here in Lisbon, I noticed a lot of the nomads were getting together with other nomads and you have the digital industry, which you’ve got a thriving industry here locally. And what can you do to bring those two groups together, because ultimately a lot of the nomads want to come back and they may want to even live here or move here or move to the Grand Canary Islands. And if you have those connections and if you’re able to make the connections between the local digital community and this digital nomad community, I think there’s a lot of really magical things that can happen. And if nothing else, some great friendships or relationships or businesses that are started as a result of it.

So I think that’s a really powerful solution, is bringing those groups together and really trying to

elevate the whole economy as a result of it. I noticed you’re very active. You have a project called NomadCity. So I guess everyone on the group, if you check out nomadcity.org, it really has a lot of information about co-working, co-living, lifestyle and what it’s really like to live in the Grand Canary Islands. And maybe just tell us a bit about that initiative as well, because I know you’ve been doing that now, it looks, for about five years or so.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Yeah. Well just to be clear, what we’ve worked on in the last five years has been a process, also a learning process, because this movement is so new for many of us. Even going back five years it feels like we are dinosaurs within this movement. But actually NomadCity started as a brand and hosted our yearly conference. We host a yearly conference onsite where we cover all the topics around the remote work movement. So we do talk about digital nomadism. We talk about the social economic impact of remote work. We talk about how to manage distributed teams, how to scale distributed teams. So everything, the whole scope of topics around remote work. And we’ve been running this conference for five years now. We just hosted the last edition. And just when the pandemic started, we did a rebranding of all the projects that we’ve been working on in the last five years, created the new brand Repeople, which means repopulate, and which is very connected to our mission of repopulating the Canary Islands with this talent. And also bringing back the talent that the Canary islands have lost over

the last decades.

And we thought NomadCity, that it’s already a brand that connected to the city of Las Palmas, in

Gran Canaria, where we’re based. Why don’t we create a platform with all those recurring questions that we’ve had over the years from people wanting to relocate temporarily or indefinitely to the Canary Islands. And that’s what NomadCity is today, which is a website with a whole lot of information about relocating to the Canary Islands, relocating to Gran Canaria in particular, where to work, co-working spaces, coffee shops. We have an online community around NomadCity. Events. And simple things: how do you get a SIM card when you arrive? Or how do you do a long-term contract with the owner of the house? And the idea with NomadCity is to keep evolving with all the information that we keep getting requested and make the soft landing much better for those who decide to come.

Dave:

That’s awesome. Yeah, super comprehensive website. For you guys out there, nomadcity.org. Especially if you’re thinking about going to the Grand Canary Islands at some point. If you’re in cold weather and you don’t have cold weather, this is a great option. This or Madeira or do both. Go to the Grand Canary and then check out Madeira and just do a little island tour, a little island hopping.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Well, the cool thing is that there’s flights connecting both islands, so you could be bouncing from one archipelago to the other.

Dave:

Yeah, it’s amazing. I’m really looking forward to this experience, because I’ve been on the mainland here Portugal for a while, and I’m a snowmad, So usually in the winters I’d to go to Chamonix, last year we went to Austria, and this year we’re staying in the South of Portugal and focusing on my surfing at bit. So right now the waves are too big, but we’re not allowed to move outside of our area, so I’m kind of stuck with a big wave, so we’re waiting for them to calm down a bit. But hey listen, I saw Nomad List ranks Las Palmas number nine on the list, maybe number eight, number nine, it bounces around a little bit.

So it’s top 10 on the Nomad List. It’s a hotspot for digital nomads. So it’s already on the radar, I

think for a lot of people, but I wanted to introduce it to a lot of folks because I think people have heard of it, but maybe they haven’t actually been there. You also run a co-working location there. And I heard recently you’re launching a pop-up in another island called La Palma, not to be confused with the city of Las Palmas. But it’s going to be a co-living co-working spot on this really amazing, smaller island off of where you are now in the Grand Canary Islands. Is that right?

Nacho Rodriguez:

Correct. All of this started in a co-working space that we started almost six years ago. Out of the demand of our own co-workers, we decided to also start offering co-living services here in Gran Canaria too. We have three co-living locations open right now focused only on remote workers and also corporate retreats. And we’ve been also testing new locations for co-living. We just did in last November a pop-up co-living in the South of Gran Canaria, which was traditionally the more tourism side of the island, but it actually brought up a lot of very interesting feedback from our co-livers.

And just yesterday we launched the first pop-up living in La Palma island, as you mentioned. It’s

the Western most island, beautiful, super green, great for hiking, mountain biking. Also has some beautiful beaches. And recently the fiber optic connection arrived in La Palma, so we’re like, “Okay, now is the time to test it out as a destination.” There is already a community of remote workers there, but there’s no co-working space, so we decided to bring a co-living and co-working experience to gather the community that is already there with the guys that are moving into our co-livings and really test it out and see how the experience goes.

Dave:

And how do we find that? Is there a website for co-loving and co-working?

Nacho Rodriguez:

You can find all our initiatives under repeople.co, and on social media, both Facebook and LinkedIn, and we post there frequently all the pop-ups, and also our standard permanent co-living and co-working locations.

Dave:

Okay, that’s awesome. I saw you had another… It was called CoworkingC. That’s the initial one you started.

Nacho Rodriguez:

That was the original brand of our co-working space. When, again, we launched Repeople, we… It’s like an umbrella around all the different projects that we had, particularly because people knew us from CoworkingC or knew us from NomadCity or knew us from some pop-up co-livings that we started, but they didn’t have a connection. So now Repeople is the connection of all our projects and all of them hang from that brand.

Dave:

That’s great. So everyone in the community here, we’re going to be reposting this, and generally these videos get a lot of views, so I think if you’re looking to go to the Grand Canary Islands, learn more about it, definitely connect with Nacho here. He is a super expert. He’s super connected, especially if you want to move your business there, or if you’re looking for a place to live or you’re looking for a place to work, he’s really the guy. I was super impressed, and I think, some of the things I was looking at, just some of the highlights of the Grand Canaries is it’s very… You can save a lot of money. It’s not super expensive. It’s an affordable place to live. I was hearing stuff on your website. People are super friendly.

I was watching one of the videos on your NomadCity and people were just raving about how friendly the people are. The food, I guess, is amazing as well. People are very relaxed. What else do you have to say about it, because I just hear there’s so many positive things about living there. People just really seem to love it.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Well, I think that is the thing in common and connecting again with the rest of the initiatives in other archipelagos. I think that we as islanders have a a different vibe, and are normally very, very welcoming.

The Canarians have been traditionally, for decades, also very international, also in different kinds of communities, very inclusive, very open. And this is, I think, the first thing that people notice. So the combination of islanders welcoming plus international. So they feel at home. Particularly when they connect right away with the local community, they feel at home from moment one. They have things to do, they have people to hang out with, there’s all kinds of different activities, indoors, outdoors, obviously the weather. The weather makes a big difference. I mean, we are the Southernmost part of Europe. Right now it’s 23 degrees outside, Celsius, So it’s quite nice. You have the ocean, you have the mountains. Except for skiing.

Dave:

That’s all right. You can’t have everything. One thing I was seeing too, is that everyone said everything is super convenient. I guess there’s a common saying that everything’s within about 15 minutes. So it’s pretty easy to get around.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Particularly in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which is probably the largest hub in the Canaries for remote workers. It’s a city, it’s quite large. It’s the sixth largest in Spain in terms of population, but still very handy. Everything is at walking distance. I think what makes the difference is the beautiful urban beach that you can see behind me, Las Canteras, which allows you to surf right next to your working space or right next to a great burger place or right next to a nice bar. So that brings in a very good vibe and a very good quality of life while you’re here. And I think that’s what all the remote work and digital nomad community appreciates the most.

Dave:

Definitely. How big are the waves? Are they surfable?

Nacho Rodriguez:

They are. There’s different parts of the beach and different breaks, some more for beginners, some more for experts. The good thing is that depending on your level, you can find all of them.

Dave: 

That’s awesome.

Nacho Rodriguez:

You don’t have to be confronted by huge waves all the time.

Dave:

That’s great. I realized, I start surfing, about one meter is my sweet spot, but I can go up to two meters, but sometimes that can be a little tragic depending on the outcome of my pop-up.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Yeah, you don’t want to crash your head on it.

Dave:

Hey man, it’s really great catching up with you. I was doing some background research and it sounds like you’ve got… Your family’s been in this business too for a while. You guys have been in, what, renewable energies, high efficient equipment, the hospitality business now for over 25 years. So I see it’s not just this start that you had five or six years ago, but it’s really almost in your DNA, I guess, this vision that you have. It probably got started a while ago. I was even noticing, I guess, during your academic studies in graduate school, you did a thesis on island snow, so it sounds like you’ve really been focused on this for a while now.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Well, my way of thinking and my approach to business is always connected to social impact. So I was in the industry for renewables in the family business for over 15 years, creating a very positive impact in the whole hospitality industry, reducing the CO2 production of all the big infrastructures that are focused on traditional tourism. And then I discovered this whole movement of remote work and digital nomads, and I was like, “Whoa, this is exactly what I was missing in my hometown, that interaction with an international community that thrives and makes the city something different.” And that’s what we’ve been working on… Started as a hobby, but obviously over the years, it became very time demanding and I’m excited about what we are working on and what’s to come with this movement. So yes, I guess I have a big emotional salary on the things that I am involved in.

Dave:

That’s awesome, man. And you’re quite a basketball player, I hear. You had a scholarship to college for four years at Division One Boston University that was an NCAA champion for the East coast conference. So that’s not your mother judging you.

Nacho Rodriguez:

It’s been a while. That was in my previous life. But yes, I have managed to go through college to a great school, thanks to basketball and enjoy the whole experience there, until I realized that I was not going to be a great professional player, so decided to get into my other interests, professional interests, but it was a great experience back then.

Dave:

That’s awesome. I noticed Gonzalo, it looks he’s quite a volleyball player, so maybe you guys have some good competitions.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Well Gonzalo has spent the last five months with us here in Gran Canaria staying at one of our co-livings, and he became the beach volleyball star of the Canary Islands. So I’m looking forward to him coming back because I made good friendships here through beach volleyball.

Dave:

That’s awesome. Yeah, I saw his vertical looks pretty good. I couldn’t believe it can get up that high. It’s amazing. Well, listen, this has been a really great interview. I guess we don’t want to drag it on too long for the group. But I just want to wrap things up here. If there’s anything you’d to leave with the community, any tips or any suggestions as they’re evaluating this nomadic journey. A lot of our nomads or remote workers, they might be at home right now dealing with a lockdown or maybe they’re a couple hours outside of town experiencing the nomadic lifestyle in more of a local fashion. Any parting words for our group here? Inspire these guys a bit.

Nacho Rodriguez:

In my opinion there are great things to come for this movement. In the last couple of months, I’ve seen a lot of new… I call them corporate nomads. A lot of people who worked for corporations in Dublin, in London, in Paris, all of a sudden got the freedom to work remotely, at least for a couple of months, because the companies decided that they want them back in the office. That’s bringing a lot more people to this movement. That’s making the corporate world aware that this is also work, but this is connected to lifestyle, and a different way of doing things, of living and working at the same time. So I encourage all the guys who are now thinking about it to really get into it, talk to… If they’re working for

a company, talk to the boss and ask them for a test to get on the road and start working remotely and join a different type of lifestyle, which I think is going to become much more popular in the next few years.

Dave:

Yeah, we definitely agree. We think it’s just a huge groundswell of interest. It’s almost a tidal wave direction heading that direction, so it’s going to be exciting and it’s nice to meet people from all over the world and really get to interact with a lot of different cultures and really get to see what… This digital movement really is happening everywhere. You see people coming from all over the world that are super talented and smart and have some amazing capability. So we think all of this will create some great outcomes we hope.

And we really appreciate all the work that you’re doing and all the work that you’ve done, and

We encourage everyone in the group here, if you get the chance, go check out Nacho in the Grand Canary Islands in Las Palmas, check out this new pop-up in La Palma. He’s got his conference going on in June, which is going to be happening, which will be amazing. I’ve attended some of the events and they’re really great. But we just really wanted to thank you for joining us here, Nacho. We really look forward to what you have in store and everything that you’re doing for the community and this global movement. So it’s been really awesome.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Thank you. Thank you for having me, Dave. And thank you also for all your work advocating for this movement.

Dave:

Yes, thank you very much. It’s been awesome. I hope to catch up with you again soon and hopefully I’ll see you on the island.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Got to pay us a visit.

Dave:

Thank you so much, Nacho, have a great day and really appreciate it.

Nacho Rodriguez:

Thank you guys. My pleasure.

Dave:

Cheers.

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