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Unicorns Crafting the Infrastructure for a Digital Nomad Nationby@raysvitla
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985 reads

Unicorns Crafting the Infrastructure for a Digital Nomad Nation

by Ray SvitlaApril 30th, 2024
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The rise of digital nomads, now comparable in number and economic impact to a small country, has spurred the emergence of startups like Deel, SafetyWing, and Bubbleswitch.me. These companies are addressing unique challenges like employment compliance, health security, and social integration, helping to shape a decentralized "digital nomad nation" where nation-states are viewed as service providers competing on features like safety, taxes, and internet speed.
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With 35 million individuals worldwide, marking a 232% increase over the past three years, the digital nomad sector is thriving. With a median salary of $85,000 per month, if we nomads were a nation, our GDP would be on par with France's (2.78 trillion USD). Bonjour, Nomads! Our cultural shift is just beginning to show, and a new breed of unicorns has already emerged! Let's delve into the startups capitalizing on this trend.

Are We Truly Nomads?

Historically, digital nomads were often viewed as freelancers or entrepreneurs. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically democratized this lifestyle, making it accessible to a broader audience. Corporations have been forced to adapt to global talent-sourcing models. In the U.S., 30% of the nomad population has seen its remote workforce double in the last few years.

MBO Partners, Nomadism Enters the Mainstream, August 2023


Dropbox CEO, Drew Houston, in The Verge:

"We used to have 75 percent of our employees in the big tech hubs. Now, that’s like 50 percent. That means we’ve gotten all these awesome people in these places who never would’ve joined Dropbox before at all levels."

The Expansion of the Nomadic Workforce

Deel.com, the leading entity in this sector, has skyrocketed to a valuation of $12 billion with over $500 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR), achieving EBITDA positivity since September 2022. An impressive feat for a company founded in 2018.


Deel simplifies hiring by acting as the employer of record, managing compliance with employment laws across over 150 countries. As Deel gears up for a potential IPO in 2025-2026 and continues acquiring HR platform providers, aiming to create a comprehensive one-stop shop for global corporate HR needs.


Alex Bouaziz, Co-Founder & CEO of Deel, knows the complexities of managing online teams firsthand. Originally from France, he has lived in Israel, the U.K., the U.S., and Spain. His experience managing a high-pressure environment at YC, where team members are scattered across various countries, emphasizes the importance of self-care.

Social and Safety Concerns in a Borderless World

While the digital nomad lifestyle offers freedom and flexibility, it also presents unique challenges such as personal safety, which 26% of digital nomads reported as their top concern in 2023. This includes issues from health emergencies in foreign countries to physical security in less stable regions.

MBO Partners, Nomadism Enters the Mainstream, August 2023


A notable player here is SafetyWing.com, which specializes in global travel medical insurance. In April 2022, SafetyWing raised $35 million in a Series B round, reflecting its focus on expanding its offerings to meet the needs of both individual nomads and corporate clients.


Its project, Plumia, is pioneering the concept of an "internet nation" – offering a social safety net and a digital passport to facilitate a fast-track visa process for digital nomads in over 10 countries. Or I would call it a B2G KYC provider, which helps countries attract talent to themselves.


For developing countries, this talent arbitrage is a chance to attract wealthy foreigners ready to spend much more than the local population, while developed countries aim to fill gaps in fertility rates and youth outmigration. There are already 66 countries that issue digital nomad visas. Nation-states recognize nomads as a separate group и, возможно separate nation!


bubbleswitch.me website

The concept of a digital nomad nation is radical: a decentralized community that views nation-states as service providers, comparing them by the features they offer: climate, safety, taxes, access to community and finances, and even internet speed still matters. Sounds too rational, doesn’t it?


But from the same rational perspective, we need to unite to create new structures for legal rights, community support, and cultural integration. 22% and 21% of nomads suffer from a lack of friends and loneliness. We simply need new ways to unite into groups.


One of the startups addressing this problem for digital nomads is bubbleswitch.me – which instantly integrates into new cities and feels at home anywhere. This startup allows users to save and share favorite local spots and communities, effectively enabling them to "switch" social and cultural bubbles seamlessly.

The Horizon Expands

We stand on the brink of a revolution in work and citizenship. Digital nomads are thriving, redefining the global landscape on their own terms. In this narrative, companies like Deel, SafetyWing, and Bubbleswitch.me are crafting the very infrastructure of a digital nation, poised to become the next unicorns of the startup world.