While the haze continues to spread throughout Sumatra, Indonesia, Bali still stands as a lovely place to work out from. Here are two startups which allow you to work in your wetsuit and have the time of your life.
Change Ventur.es, started by Fergie Miller and Grace Clapham, will be launching in Bali this September with its first one-month long program. The company, based out of the Joglos villas north of Seminyak, aims to “create a life experience for anyone who is interested in working on a startup or social venture”. By combining travel and adventure with talks and vocational styled mentoring, it will commence with a “Lean Startup” workshop to give participants the skills they need to start their own social or business project. These participants, or better known as venturers, will be able to do whatever they like, from getting an authentic Balinese massage to going to the road less traveled, to get a more rounded experience.
But it’s not all play and no work! Sessions will include topics like creative leadership, public speaking, digital marketing, investor relations, software development, design thinking, customer development and others. Venturers are equipped with these skills to create successful projects which Fergie said will create sustainable change.
Currently, Change Ventur.es is scouring for the best 20 entrepreneurs, freelancers, graduates, and career breakers they can lay their hands on to join this program and form their idea with a community of like-minded individuals. Apparently, every person that applies will get screened via a series of Skype calls to make sure they’re truly “like-minded”.
But Bali has also caught many other startups’ eye and one of them is Contenga. Speaking to Nick Martin, a core member of the team behind Contenga, a tech incubator, I found out that there isn’t quite a fixed period for members to stay. He shared, “There is no fixed period and some people are here for three months [while] others are here indefinitely. It’s mainly determined by the outcome of the individual startups.” That being said, he clarified that they do have guest entrepreneurs who stay for a couple of weeks as well.
Although the company is based in Copenhagen, Denmark, Nick told me that most of them are working out of Bali. Currently, they have about 25 people on the campus in Bali on any given day. “We have both local employees and international guests or employees. We have local employees that have been with Contenga for two years. The longest [staying] expat would be Michael Bodekaer who has been on Bali since September 2010 where the very first Project Getaway event took place. Since then, he searched for a place to start Contenga and the rest of the startups.”
Besides Startup Getaway and Project Getaway, a few of their startups under their portfolio include Mailbird, Smartlaunch and Labster. As usual, there is a rough itinerary where they stick to: “breakfast between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., lunch at noon and dinner at 6 p.m..” Well, in between, they will all work on their startups, only to be interrupted by cross-fit sessions, healthy snacks and brainstorming sessions, adds Nick.
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But of course, it’s no holiday camp even though it concentrates a lot on “working in paradise”. Nick shared, “Contenga is about creating a framework or infrastructure that allows entrepreneurs of tech areas a chance to come and live with us working on one or more of our in house startups. We also very much welcome entrepreneurs to come and live with us while they work on their own startups. This is specifically the goal of Startup Getaway, where entrepreneurs can take advantage of the infrastructure we have already built to live in paradise and focus on their startups.”
Why Bali? And what’s the difference?
So why are they both in Bali? Is it really that great a place to work out from. Apparently, it’s not just the surfing and suntanning people are looking forward to, when they sign up for these programs. Grace from Change Ventur.es shared in an earlier press release that since “Bali is just a stones throw away from Singapore, Hong Kong and Jakarta, and offers venturers an opportunity to learn from some of Asia’s brightest minds as well as acting as a fast track into an Asian network”, this encourages many locals and expats to come together and build projects.
Fergie agreed, “Obviously Bali has long been a well known tourist destination with with its amazing surfing and great quality of life. This is an integral part of the program – a healthy body often leads to a healthy mind and travel has this amazing ability to inspire people. Whilst Bali has an upcoming startup scene (its first co-working space Hubud opened earlier this year), and is just a short flight to many Asian cities including Singapore, Jakarta and Hong Kong, the reason why we chose it was its ability to provide a unique life experience for our clients that can forge long lasting friendships.”
Or if we just think about it, and be slightly frivolous and less business-minded, Bali is home to some of the most exotic flora and fauna on Earth, has beautiful beaches, and lets you live luxuriously even while on a budget. How is that not appealing to anyone?
While both startups encourage a true holistic experience when it comes to founding your own company, I think there’s no real fixed period as to how long an individual should stay in this paradisiacal Indonesian province to work. For some, this new environment might give them a boost in productivity but a prolonged stay might end up getting them bored. For others, the lifestyle allows them to stay carefree yet focused on their work.