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Fabian’s Keynote at DNX Berlin: Writing the life story you want to read

Fabian’s Keynote at DNX Berlin: Writing the life story you want to read

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Exactly today, one year ago, Vin, Dom and Fabian started StartupDiaries.

As with most things worth doing, it started as a crazy idea; running our company from a Land Rover was pretty ambitious. Through a deep belief in the idea, and taking the necessary incremental steps, one at a time, we made the whole adventure a reality.

Before we could blink an eye, we were sitting in the Land Rover somewhere in a desert in Peru, doing a call with a client in the US and it felt like the most normal thing.

Exactly a year ago, we had no idea what was going to happen, and no particular goals we were looking to achieve. We knew that doing something like Startup Diaries, would be at the very least quite the adventure, with many unpredictable consequences coming out of it.

And that’s exactly what happened: dozens of new connections, speaking at TED in Bogota, TOA in Berlin, interviews on Deutsche Welle, and more.

One place it led Fabian down, was that to the stage at DNX Berlin. We’ve shared the recording of the keynote below and we hope it will resonate with you, perhaps inspiring your own adventure.

How To Run a Company From a Land Rover Defender (While Driving Across South America)

How To Run a Company From a Land Rover Defender (While Driving Across South America)

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Tech Open Air Berlin is the perfect “unconference” for Berlin. It is a city that is bustling with creativity, in the worlds of science, music, art, and of course, tech. Since 2012, TOA has been bringing these ideas together for 2 days, packed with workshops, music events, parties, “pitch-nics” and great opportunities for interdisciplinary networking between normally separated worlds.

So it was a great honor to be able to present Startup Diaries in a workshop entitled “How To Run a Company From a Land Rover Defender”. Fabian shared what he learnt about efficiency while driving across South America as a nomad company for 7 months.

For those who weren’t luck enough to attend TOA, you can watch the workshop here:

Talking to Teleport

Talking to Teleport

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If you are a digital nomad, or an ex-pat, you’ve probably heard of Teleport. To sum it up in their own words, they “build software for startup people on the move”. For those who move with their families around the globe, who know how complex these moves can be, Teleport is a lifesaver. Figuring out where to stay, what to expect, where to pay taxes or which visa to get, it’s their mission to make it all easier for you.

So when they wanted to talk to us about our experiences as a nomad company, we welcomed the opportunity to contribute the lessons and ideas we’ve picked up along the way. Here’s a peak at the interview:

On the core idea behind Startup Diaries:

“Startup Diaries was started in effort to explore the future of the Nomad Company, to understand how people can balance growth and freedom from location. When I first started after leaving a very lucrative yet time consuming position with a top global startup, I knew that I wanted to push my boundaries further. I wanted to see how far I could take the idea of a “company” in a connected, global economy…It’s a project we started to document our travels, struggles, and conversations with people who are also redefining how we work.”

On the difference between Nomad Companies and Digital Nomads:

“The biggest difference is the long term vision. The most common digital nomad story is “pay to play”, work to make just enough money to be able to pay for the next day, week or leg of the journey. There are careerists, those who take it seriously and maintain a long term pipeline. But it’s exceedingly rare for the freelancing nomad to actively pursue growth, right? As a Nomad Company, though saying we work 9-5 would be a misnomer, we have meetings (easy when you’re driving around all the time), structure and most importantly, a cohesive focus on the growth of the company and brand.”

On our favorite locations around South America:

“Lima has been my favourite city with the very bohemian Barrio Barranco sticking out in my mind as one of my favorite places to be.

In general, the food was most amazing in Peru. Not only was it exceptionally cheap, but the ingredients were incredibly fresh and varied, including but nowhere near limited to fish, ceviches, llama, fruit straight from trees, and more.

Patagonian Chile cannot be beat for landscapes with lakes, volcanos, peaks and waterfalls that are invariably surreal.

The coolest co-working space we found was Sinergia in Montevideo, not only for its great design and layout, but for one of the most varied and incredible concentration of ideas under one roof (think drones, 3D printers, SaaS stratups and the rest).

Crossing the desert from Chile to Peru was a great adventure. We got stuck in the sand, and slept in the car for several nights. There’s more sand out there than you would ever want to see.

Baños in Ecuador was great for activities like zip lining, jungle tours and waterfalls.”

Check out the complete interview on the Teleport blog, and while your there have a look at their platform. Even if you aren’t thinking about moving. It might just inspire you.

Our Perfect Roadtrip Playlist

Our Perfect Roadtrip Playlist

We’ve driven over 18,500 km in the past few months.

Ok, we’re guessing really. Who counts that high?

A lot of it travelling as slow as 40km/hour driving on hairpin curves with rivers running through them. It’s a lot of time in a car.

We listen to a lot of music.
And shout out the lyrics, generally out of key.

Here are a few of the songs that we’ve chosen that get us moving in La Oficina:

Fab’s Picks:


Dominic’s Picks:


And Vin’s of course:


What’s your roadtrip/travel song of choice?

(if you’d like to view all as a playlist, click here)

Inspiring Drives: Val Figallo, Working Her Own Way

Inspiring Drives: Val Figallo, Working Her Own Way

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When it comes to redefining how we work, Val Figallo is an inspiration to us at Startup Diaries. A self taught developer from the age of 14, she made the choice on her own to drop out of school. Every kid in the world would jump at that opportunity and perhaps rightfully be denied, but not Val. She made such a strong case, that her parents weren’t able to deny her search for an alternative life path.

And she quickly proved to them that she had made the right choice.

A textbook example of those people who inspire us, this is why we are travelling across South America on our search for the people redefining work. It follows a path that is unexplored, where most people may rightfully call you crazy but you prove them wrong.

Val is a trailblazer. She spoke to Fab in La Oficina as they drove around the streets of Lima. And she explained how a model from the USA and a Western Union payment, changed her life forever. Check out the video on our Youtube channel and don’t forget to subscribe.

How A Stolen Backpack Inspired Us to Drive Across South America

How A Stolen Backpack Inspired Us to Drive Across South America


One of the first questions people ask us is “Why are you doing this?”. Which is generally followed up with “how did you come up with the idea for Startup Diaries?” and “why the hell South America?”.

They are pretty valid questions. What makes two geeks leave their comfortable homes, take their business on the road, sleep in a Land Rover Defender for 6 months and interview people who are inventing the working culture of tomorrow?

Why Startup Diaries and Why South America?


It all started with having my backpack stolen in Recife, northern Brazil. It was the day after Germany obliterated Brazil 7:1. It was the (first) day I felt a bit uncomfortable when people asked me where I was from, and I sometimes would say that I was Swedish (instead of German).

During that afternoon I attended an art exhibition with a Brazilian friend. When we came back all windows of the cars in the street were broken and my backpack was gone!

The GoPro? Also Gone.
iPhone? Gone.
Kindle? Yup, gone too.

It was quite depressing and sad, not a feeling of a material loss, but that of a general sense of insecurity.

Being the German workaholic I am, the next morning I made a plan. I would improve my mood by going to a co-working space, get some work done (yes, working makes me happy!), and make some money to replace the stolen goods. I sat down next to Edmilson Rodriguez, founder of, a platform with a great cause – bringing together people from poor backgrounds who would like to get an education and potential sponsors. I told Ed what happened to me the night before. The next day Ed took me out to lunch in the old part of town in Recife. Sitting at the table, with a that Brazilian warmth that few other nations have, Ed handed me a book in a ceremonial fashion. It was a book all about Brazilian entrepreneurs. “This is a present for you Fabian, so you can not only improve your Portuguese, but also learn about the cool entrepreneurial
culture in Brazil”.

I opened the book and found a note on the first page:

“Fabian, what happened to you is horrible. I hope that you will also see the developing, innovative, and smart side of our country!”

I was moved. A guy I just met had cared enough about what happened to me and about what I thought about his country, to give me a present to encourage a positive outlook!

Forming the Idea


For the next 1.5 hours, Ed and I walked through the old city center and what happened there inspired the creation of StartupDiaries.

With Ed every second building turned into a cool company, an angel investor or a startup incubator. Ed knew everyone, introduced me to people and after a while I had a pocket full of business cards. In my head, Brazil had magically transformed. What before were old and rundown buildings, had become hubs of innovation, with smart people working on cool projects. This was the other side of Latin America, the one you don’t read about in your Lonely Planet, National Geographic or in the news.

I met inspired people, full of optimism, with the guts to take the future into their own hands and pursue a dream, usually with the goal of changing something in their society for the better.

This was the Latin America I wanted to discover and share! And so StartupDiaries was born.

Three guys in a van hunting down the modern “Che Guevaras of work” who despite social pressure and economic difficulties, say “No” to a well payed and hard-to-escape job in a big corporation. These people went on to pursue what they really wanted to do. StartupDiaries is about these innovators and risk-takers, the lives they lead, their optimism, hopes and dreams, and above all the challenges they face and the difference they make.

StartupDiaries is also about us, Dominic and me, running an IT company from road, being an extreme example of what we might usually describe as being “digital nomads”. We are fascinated with the future of work and are convinced that there will be more and more people making the jump to being then roaming freelancers of the future. There are people that prefer to work free of fixed time schedules, of corporate demands and omnipresent bosses. The goal is to have a freer lifestyle, fewer limitations,
unpredictability and regularly inspiration.

How can you put a price-tag on experiencing the world while earning a living, not having to commute (except to move from one city to the next), and spending more quality time friends?

Bear with us folks, we just got into this video thing, it will only get better from now on.

Fabio, on behalf of your StartupDiaries team.

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