Often times as a venture investor, people will ask you, “tell me about something that you recently invested in.” After explaining it, the most common reactions range from an expression of feigned interest to a polite counter to your thinking and why the company may not work. Every so often, you explain it and get a unanimous and resounding “oh my god! I would totally do/buy/use that!” Such is the case with Boundless Life.
Boundless Life is a Montreal-based startup that is empowering families to experience a digitally nomadic lifestyle. You might be saying to yourself that you have heard this story before, but this one is a bit different. See, the majority of other startups that have tackled the concept of digital nomadism have focused on single professionals. Coders, designers and other professionals who are at a point in life where roots aren’t established and your world and needs are self-centered (I mean this in the kindest way). To throw caution to the wind, travel the world and set up shop anywhere with internet is a relatively low-risk option. Add in a significant other and a couple of school-aged children? The stakes increase significantly.
At that point, the complexities of moving across the world are amplified. Your needs change from a place to sleep, coordinated travel and a strong internet connection to include schools, social networks and activities for all ages, access to quality healthcare, and safe and private housing. This is where Boundless Life steps in. They enable a full-service option for families that includes schooling, housing, activities, visas and health insurance that has been curated in off-the-beaten path settings. In essence, they take the hassle and many of the risks of uprooting your family (for two months or two years) out of the equation.
So beyond the fact that everyone I spoke to said “I would totally do that!”, why did I invest in them?
- The Right Team. Early-stage investing is always centered around having the right team. Boundless Life’s team has it all: travel and hospitality experience, founder/startup experience, diversity (gender and ethnic) of thought and personal passion. They are not just building it; they are living it (and have lived it in their own childhoods). If you had to choose a management team to build this, this is the collection of traits and expertise you would have chosen.
- The Right Time. Working remotely has never been easier or more accepted. Distributed workforces are becoming the norm and, for the time being, are likely to be embraced even by those organizations that don’t prefer the structure. Technology and work processes that have been built and refined during the pandemic mean that workers are used to being remote and have hit a stride of normalcy and productivity in that setting. Lastly, as workers have been embraced the model they are seeing the benefits of more time at home and with family and are leveraging this flexibility to find a happier balance of work and life. These tailwinds suggest that digital nomadism isn’t a passing fad or a niche concept but are likely here to stay and in the earliest of innings of refinement.
- The Right Model. The business model of Boundless Life had four elements that I found ultra-compelling: the locations, the educational component, the services layer and the community-centric mindset.
- The locations targeted are beautiful, walkable, close to major urban hubs but far enough away to provide peace and affordability. If you want a preview of what that might look like, look no further than the first community of Sintra, Portugal.
- The educational component is rooted in Montessori-style education based on a notable Finnish model. It is holistic and transportable. By focusing on their own education hubs, families can move between towns and continue on the same educational journey regardless of how long they wish to remain nomadic and no matter where they land.
- After reviewing many “World Schooling” websites and groups, a recurring theme emerged: 10’s of thousands of families wanted to embrace this lifestyle but found the litany of issues that they needed to solve for (particularly the ones they may not know exist) daunting. The services layer of Boundless addresses this all. They can plan travel, visas, access to health insurance, transportation, home/living services and social activities. It is the easy-button to adopt the lifestyle that so many are yearning for and is rooted in the exact questions that are commonly asked.
- Finally, Boundless is building with a massive focus on community. Each community will be roughly 50 families which provides a critical mass for connectivity. All housing will be walkable to their community hub that houses co-working and school. Prior to joining the community, families will have opportunities to engage with and immerse with other families to ease transitions (especially for the children). In addition, Boundless will have community leaders in each place that can serve as guides and integrators for new families. With each founder planning to relocated his/her family as well, it is no surprise that a flawless community experience is paramount.
The reaction to Boundless Life has been enormous already. The waitlist is several years/communities long already and growing without any concerted marketing efforts. It is an exciting opportunity to build the platform that unlocks happiness and growth in so many families. IFP is proud and excited to go on this journey with the team!