Digital nomads are a type of people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Such workers often work remotely from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces, or recreational vehicles. Entrepreneur.com defines it as those who seek greener pastures in far-off destinations. Live to travel. And who’s laptop and phone are their office. This perfectly describes Dries Meerschaert, Co-Founder of Mapiac. However in this feature with The 7th Magazine‘s Blog, Luxury Chapters, he details his digital nomad lifestyle through an interview in this exclusive!
How did you begin your journey of mastering work into your travels?
I originally started my career by working as an IT security consultant at Deloitte Brussels. Having my first months of salaries I started traveling more and more often during the weekends to explore a bit of the world. It took me 1 year of travelling to realize that working behind a desk for 10-12 hours a day and being in traffic for another 2-3 hours a day isn`t the ideal lifestyle I was looking for.
On a trip in Budapest I met some friends that are living the digital nomad lifestyle. I got inspired and made it a life-goal to figure out a way to earn the same salary I had at Deloitte but this time being in full control of the location I work from. The dream to achieve a location independent lifestyle was created. After two years I quit my job at Deloitte together with a colleague of mine Frederik Foket since we shared a similar goal.
The plan was simple: we shall make a travel website featuring the most unique locations (and lesser known) in Europe to inspire other travelers. The monetization part would be through affiliate marketing, ads, etc. After 10 months of working a minimum of 50 hours per week our website was live, but we still didn’t receive a single dollar of revenue from it.
Since we did not have a salary we had basically no budget to invest in anything than ourselves. This is how we learned ourselves a multitude of growth hacking techniques to drive some “free traffic” to our website.
After 10 months of no revenue we reflected to the project and realized we were most passionate about running the Instagram profile and everything around it. We were getting great results out of this social media platform. We decided to pitch it to two friends of us on an evening to see if there is any interest in what we do. Both of them decided to go for it, and pay us 75 euro per month.
The next day we went to the house of commerce in Bruges (Belgium) to register our Instagram agency. We never worked a single hour on our travel website again.
At Mapiac plenty of things have changed over the past years. We went from remote freelance work where we are managing the campaigns of our customers to making a full transition to becoming a real business. Today Mapiac has 20 full time employees delivering the best service possible to our customers.
How would you transcribe a perfect day at work throughout your trips?
A perfect day for me is when nothing critical is happening and I can manage the operational work from my mobile phone. Work is no longer something I “have” to do but it became something I am passionate about. I cannot wait to receive updates from the business, seeing our team and business grow and achieving the goals.
Where is the one place that creatively inspired you the most?
*Ufff* very tricky question! In general I would say EVERY trip I do is a big inspiration and reflection moment on what I am doing, how the business is doing. By the time the trip ends, I come back fully refreshed an full of new ideas. We actively travel to give ourselves the luxury to step out of the business and the life we live, to reflect on what we are doing. It always brings big results and changes.
How would you best define your Instagram handle, Digital Nomad?
I had this handle for two years now and I always wanted to inspire others to become a Digital Nomad as well. Every day I receive Direct Messages of fellow travelers trying to chase the dream. I love helping them and inspiring them to not give up, because building something remotely takes time and plenty of patience!
Are animals a major factor in where you choose to travel to?
*Haha* good question. I`m not a big fan of deadly animals so I`ll try to avoid those regions. I love animals and the more dogs that come along my path, the better.
How did you get started with this entrepreneurship?
I was born with it, both of my parents were running a car rental enterprise and I never saw them doing a regular job. They are both a big inspiration and motivation to achieve a similar lifestyle. I`ve seen the positives and the negatives, and I cannot wait to achieve the same!
Is Mapiac the future through your social marketing strategies?
At this moment our main business at Mapiac is Instagram marketing. Whether it is managing the growth or creating beautiful content for our customers. We are already heavily investing research time in other platforms and we keep track of the latest changes in the social media world. Instagram marketing will
evolve, and it is our priority to adapt to the market and provide our customers with a working strategy Today.