Ep 32 Amir Salihefendic, Working Remotely is the Way of the Future

Amir Salihefendic joins me on this episode of Crossing Borders to talk about why working remotely is the way of the future. Listen to hear how he helped bootstrap a fully remote company, his perspective on funding a startup and how to create products that help solve real problems. Amir also shares how companies can gain a competitive edge, find outstanding talent and increase workplace productivity by being fully remote.

Fully bootstrapped and fully remote

Amir is the founder and CEO of Doist, a productivity software that helps simplify and organize daily tasks. Doist was fully bootstrapped and is fully remote, with employees in 23+ countries. When I asked Amir why his team chose to bootstrap the startup instead of seeking venture capital, he said that he wanted to focus on building a product with a great business plan that was not solely dependent on VC funding.

Amir was adamant in saying that having a solid business plan from the beginning is crucial to the long-term success of any company. We talked about mistakes startups can avoid when optimizing for growth and how to avoid distractions that can ultimately cause a company to fail.

Does Scandinavia hold the secret to success?

When Amir was five years old, his family moved from Bosnia to Denmark. Even though he was the only immigrant at the school he attended, he mentioned that his Danish classmates were very friendly and very trusting. He also learned that Scandinavians are some of the most productive people in the world, despite only working ~37 hours per week.

Amir suggested that employees in countries like Chile and the United States could develop a better work-life balance and be more efficient if they took a cue from Scandinavia. He talked about how countries like Denmark are focused on building a culture of trust and working smarter, not harder.        

Create products that solve problems

The best products are the ones that help solve a problem. Amir founded Todoist, an online task management app, even though it was not the first of it’s kind. Why? Because it solved a problem he had. Todoist started as a side project and now has more than 10M users around the world.

Amir talked about Twist, a new tool Doist developed to help solve the issue of communication across multiple time zones with fully remote teams. Before Twist, communication was sent in real-time, and much of the chatter was not productive. The company addressed the issue and Twist was the solution. For tech startups and entrepreneurs, figuring out what problem you are solving is a great place to start.    

Access the whole world, remote-first

Doist is not the only company working remote-first, but they have certainly mastered the approach. Amir said that working remotely is very beneficial for both employers and employees. By allowing employees to work remotely, companies have access to talented people all over the world that otherwise might not apply, due to the cost of living in that city or overwhelming competition.   

For employees, the ability to work remotely means they have the freedom to choose where they live and the quality of life they would like to have.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:00] Nathan introduces Amir
  • [4:30] Why Amir chose to bootstrap Doist
  • [11:15] Amir on what we can learn from Scandinavia
  • [16:30] The benefits remote-first companies
  • [21:30] Amir on the challenges of his first startup endeavor
  • [28:00] Lessons from failure  
  • [32:00] What makes a great product.
  • [41:30] why remote work is the way of the future
  • [48:15] Amir’s advice to his younger self

Resources & People Mentioned

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