Nomad Summit 2018 in Review | Chiang Mai, Thailand
When people talk about digital nomads, there can be this stigma that’s attached to the term. The stigma of one or two things. Either people imagine hippy style travellers globe-trotting, scraping a minimal living and making money selling a dream online that never comes true.
Or on the other hand, there are many who see digital nomads as the laptop entrepreneurs. The kind that drinks Pina Coladas on the beach, hang out on super yachts and throwing handfuls of money into the ocean like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf Of Wall-street.
Interestingly, many nomads fall directly in the middle of these two stigmas and the Nomad Summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand is where I had the great pleasure of meeting some of the brightest and best entrepreneurs from all over the globe.
In this article, I’ll share with you my unfiltered opinion and expression of exactly what the Nomad Summit had to offer and also what the communities around Chiang Mai can provide for those who are looking to try a new way of living.
Seeing What’s Possible
For a fairly new digital nomad on the block, I’ve been hugely fortunate. I’ve had a community of already successful entrepreneurs to share their wisdom with me. This has helped me take the first few steps in the right direction.
Three months into my new ‘Digital Nomad’ life, I’ve already learnt so much and the Nomad Summit 2018 really gave me an opportunity to see where I could be in 12-18 months time.
What Exactly Is the Nomad Summit?
The Nomad Summit is the biggest digital nomad conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Founded by Johnny FD of the Travel Like A Boss podcast, the event is built by, and for, digital nomads.
This year was their 4th annual conference. With over 400 attendees this year the event aims at helping digital nomads of all experience levels. Great for somebody like me who was just starting out!
The event took place effectively over 3-4 days and the programme went a little something like this:
- 19th Jan – Pre-event meet up at the Japan Village to pick-up your day passes and to network with other people attending the event.
- 20th Jan – Main conference day held at Le Meridien Hotel 9 am to 6 pm including an after party held at the top of the Maya shopping centre.
- 21st Jan – Nomad Pool Party held at the Buristro Bar & Cafe.
- 22nd Jan – Optional workshop events including getting started with Amazon FBA & how to start and scale a service-based business.
Phew, that’s a pretty jam-packed schedule! Naturally, as I’m currently obsessed with all things online, I decided I was going to go the whole hog, and get stuck into all four days.
Event Pricing and Tickets
I was really happy to find that the ticket prices for the event were particularly reasonable. I’ve been to other work conferences and know that the costs can be huge, some charging thousands of dollars for the events.
The Nomad summit had three different pricing options:
- Standard tickets $197 – Giving you full access to the conference including free food and drinks throughout.
- Deluxe Tickets $297 – These gave you upgraded seats at the front of the conference hall with a table so you could take notes and use your laptop.
- VIP Tickets $997 – These bad boys put you right at the front and also included an invitation to the speaker’s dinner.
Jobless note: It’s worth bearing in mind that before the conference they also run discounts and promotions, at the time of writing the sign up for the 2019 nomad summit is 52% cheaper!
I purchased my ticket just a week before the event was scheduled to take place and got my deluxe ticket and the additional Amazon FBA course for $206 through the official site.
Run Through of the Events
I had heard about Johnny FD before and have listened to his podcast Travel Like A Boss, in which Johnny interviews amazing people who are living the 4-hour work week lifestyle in real life. They discuss real-life examples of online businesses that actually work and use their passive income to ‘travel like a BOSS’ in the meantime.
What I didn’t realise immediately was that Johnny and the Nomad Summit were connected! When I listen to podcasts I’m a very sporadic listener and will jump from episode 18 to episode 107. Even though I had listened to his podcast, I didn’t at all connect the Nomad Summit with Johnny.
I had actually just arrived in Chiang Mai two weeks prior to the summit, completely oblivious to the fact that it was even going on. Then a guy called Keith I’d been talking to in a digital nomad Facebook group invited me to dinner.
When I met up with Keith for food he mentioned he was going to a Summit for digital nomads, I immediately jumped on the site and signed myself up.
I only connected the two dots the day before the summit. I was at the pre-meetup and realised that this dude I had been listening to on the podcast had just shaken my hand and was hosting this whole event! Small world, hey folks?
19th January – Pre-Meetup Registration at Japan Village
The pre-registration event was set out at a bar in the Nimman district of Chiang Mai. This area of the city is practically over-populated with digital nomads who were bootstrapping their businesses by saving money in Chiang Mai.
The setting was casual yet classy, and since I’ve been bumping around hostels for the last 4 months it was a welcome change from the kind of bars I’d usually been socializing in.
The actual process of receiving my badge and lanyard for the day was really simple. I’d completely lost my email with the proof of purchase somehow but they quickly found my name on the list and scanned me in any way.
Within a few minutes, I was shoulder to shoulder with around 150 other people grabbing a drink and getting chatting.
Honestly, the pre-meetup event was one of my favourite times from the whole summit. Everybody was brand new, nobody knew anyone and everyone was open to talking.
The event was supposed to last 2 hours but I ended up staying and chatting for 4 hours and met some incredible people from every walk of life:
- One guy ran a data centre out of Japan.
- I met a few other writers doing similar work to me.
- Crypto-currency investors and miners were everywhere, this stuff is red hot at the minute.
- I met lots of amazing couples including a super vegan who ate mostly fruit and was running his own Amazon FBA business after 3 months of successful dropshipping on eBay, you can check Kent out here.
- His wife Becky is a Kinesiologist. Just from looking at me she instantly told me I had a slight problem with my spine (too much sitting over a laptop in cafes) I’ll be taking her course to better my posture when it’s released in February.
The pre-registration was a great way to get everyone connected before the event to start sharing ideas, inspiration and contact info.
20th January – the Main Event at Le Meridien
The day of the summit was incredible. I felt inspired, energised and a little drunk (more on the after party later).The event started the same way most of my days start. Running late, missing breakfast & grabbing a toastie from 7/11.Click To Tweet
I arrived at the Hotel a little after 8:30 am which I was happy to find we didn’t get started until around 9:15 am, it gave me time to network with some more individuals who I didn’t have the chance to meet the day before.
First Set of Speakers – Matt Bowles & Viola Eva Schenkel
As we walked into the conference hall I was impressed with the whole setup, when the footage goes live (which it will, for free to everyone to view the talks) it’ll be awesome quality.
I was happy to have upgraded to the deluxe seats as It made taking notes, so much easier.
Matt’s talk on how he set up his real estate business while working remotely from all over the globe was an energetic and inspiring talk and Viola’s talk on how she scaled up her SEO agency in a little over 12 months was hugely inspiring and I could definitely see how it would be something that could be applied and achieved.
Second Set of Speakers – J Keitsu & Nick Nimmin
The next set of speakers were hugely impressive. J Keitsu has scaled up his original dropshipping store to a massively successful business turning over nearly $2million a month in sales and his insight into what’s possible with dropshipping was awesome.
Nick Nimmin was equally impressive but on a different spectrum after achieving nearly 5 million Youtube views in little under a year and 100,000 subscribers, both had some great ideas to share with how to scale up and grow.
Simply put, lunch rocked.
Great job Johnny.
Afternoon’s Speakers – Virginia Campo, Mike Larosa & Derek Pankaew
The afternoon’s set of speakers started off with a real kick with Virginia Campo. She shared her journey from being an intrapreneur to becoming an online entrepreneur just starting out her new journey with gignomads.com.
Her talk was passionate, honest and open and I think many of us watching saw some similarities in what she spoke about.
Mike LaRosa injected some comedy and showmanship and was an incredible speaker on stage. He told us of his history, being Starbucks youngest ever manager, throwing it in the toilet for a terrible job and doing the same thing at least three times before landing on his current trajectory.
The dude is hugely passionate about co-working spaces. Like mad passionate. Since the summit, I’ve been using coworker.com to get all the info on where the best places to work are in all the cities I’m planning on visiting soon.
Derek gave a killer speech (I should have spoken to this dude earlier as he was sat next to me) and was actually the creator of the foldable pull-up bar.
It only dawned on me I’d been sat next to him all day when I saw his slides go up and realised they were the exact same ones that I’d seen on his laptop next to me during the other presentations.
Closing the Show
Johnny FD was the last speaker to get on-stage and gave a heartfelt mention to a huge contributor to the community in Chaing Mai, Rob Fortney Jr. who sadly passed away very recently.
Johnny closed up the show with some awesome tips on getting started with dropshipping and how to scale up if you’re already on the first rung of the ladder.
Evenings Entertainment and the Pool Party
After such an awesome day, we all made our way across to the Maya shopping mall to celebrate and share our thoughts on the day. It turned into a pretty late one and for me personally, I think I made some very lasting connections, who I’m sure I’ll be collaborating with in the future.
The pool party was an extension of that! With more pad thai and cocktails than you can shake a stick at, it was a perfect chilled out day after such an information-heavy day, from the conference.
The venue was stunning and surprisingly, is actually a co-working space. If you’re looking for a place to work in Chiang Mai and want to have a dip in a pool and relax on a sun lounger afterwards, the Buristro bar and cafe may be for you.
Amazon FBA Extra Workshop
I was happy to be able to spend as much time as possible hanging out with these incredible people I’d met, and the Amazon FBA course held by Paul Adams was the perfect introduction to understanding how this type of business could compliment what I wanted to do as a digital nomad.
The course gave us some real insight into how to find a product, how to identify if there was a gap in the market and whether you could potentially get a product up and running and profitable.
The support provided by Steve Ruggiero who was actually recently featured on the Travel Like a Boss podcast was really amazing and the whole community these guys have founded in Chiang Mai is so supportive and open. I’d really suggest reaching out to them if you want to get started but don’t know where to start.
You can check out gorillazonline.com for tons of support on how to get started with Amazon FBA.
Overall Thoughts on the Conference
After spending the best part of four days hanging out with these amazing people I was sad for it to end. Out of the whole Nomad Summit, there were some key highlights for me that really made it stand out.
The Speakers Where Knowledgeable but Relatable
I loved that each of the speakers who shared their stories at the conference. They weren’t necessarily these multi-million dollar figures who had great success from a young age and were walking the walk.
Each one had something that I felt I could relate to and all of their stories and businesses that they run was something I could see myself doing in one capacity or another.
The Event Was Smoothly Run, Well Co-Ordinated and Incredibly Friendly
Throughout the whole Nomad Summit, you just got a sense that the people really cared. You can tell Johnny and the organisers put their whole heart into this event and it really shows.
The volunteers were amazing and friendly, and nothing was ever too much trouble. They even went above and beyond and even treated us to lunch at the extra workshop, and everybody loves free food.
The Conference Was Amazing, but the People Were Next-Level
As with all events involving talented speakers you get a real buzz on the day and can feel the energy and passion in the room. One thing that I loved about this conference, however, were the people attending it.
If I could take one thing away from this conference it was how incredible all the people attending were. Everyone was friendly, open and happy to share. It’s what really makes me proud to be a digital nomad.
Digital nomads are open, honest and happy to help and for me going forward that’s something I always want to live by.
In a Nutshell Then…
If you’re already a digital nomad, are on the fence or are considering and wanting a life away from the regular 9-5, invest in yourself and get involved with one of these conferences.
I know 100% I’ll be back in Chiang Mai this time next year, and I encourage as many of you reading to join in and come along for the ride. You’ll not only be inspired but also given the tools to take the action you need to get started or to take it to the next level.