Being scattered all over the world has its advantages. For one, there are no work hours, set workspaces, or dress codes. And meetings are cut to a minimum because there's only so much time everyone is online at once.
But sometimes you need some face-to-face time to make in-person connections. To hash out real problems and create lasting solutions. So once a year, we like to meet up for a week or so and get it all out of our system. Last year we chose Fiji, which is only a short 2.5 hour flight from New Zealand, and it went so well that we stayed with the four-letter theme and packed our bags for Bali.
Bali, in case you don't know, is a little tropical island east of Jakarta in Indonesia. You've likely heard of it, but unless you live in the region you probably don't have a grasp of how dense its cities are. Here's a quick comparison:
- Bali - 5,780 km2 - 4,225,384 people
- New Zealand - 268,021 km2 - 4,537,081 people
So in a fraction of the land area, Bali fits in basically the same amount of people as all of New Zealand. And you can tell right away, from the moment you race out of the airport. Sure, there are vast stretches of jungle and open space, but the cities we were in—Denpasar and Ubud—are decidedly urban. Everything is packed in tight, and just a few steps in any direction are cafes, art shops, clothing stores, spas, and markets. And the roads are filled with a type of traffic I'd never seen before—lanes are really just guidelines, a coordination of emergency blinkers and honks replace traditional turn signal use, and every inch of free road is filled by daring scooter drivers. For the uninitiated, driving in Bali is complete chaos (just don't do it), but with a cab or driver, it's really quite amazing.
Beyond the city cores though are a collection of magical little places. Grand rice terraces, an unforgettable monkey forest, spectacular beaches, giant cliffs, ancient temples, the works. The island can be anything you want it to be—an exotic urban destination with spicy food and endless shopping, or a relaxing paradise with countless amenities. And it's more affordable than you'd ever think—having the entire team come and stay in Bali for the week turned out to cost about the same as having everyone meet up in New Zealand.
Because the main purpose of the trip was 2015 planning, we found a unique rental in Ubud, a city in the forest, around 30-45 minutes north of Denpasar and the beach. It was a villa owned by the Hubud CoWorking Space, a popular spot for all the area's brightest tech founders, designers, writers, and developers. But in Ubud, even the coworking spaces are a bit funky, as the typical working environment is augmented by an in-house vegan raw bar/coffee shop, outdoor beanbag seating, and tons of events and learning opportunities. (As well as conferences like Startup Weekend Bali, which we're happily sponsoring.)
The villa itself was quite nice, with a beautiful pool that perpetually stayed cool throughout the hot, tropical days. And the large kitchen and outdoor meeting areas were perfect for getting the gang together, allowing us to gather for a number of concentrated days to work out the future of the company. The pain points, the growth areas, where we want to go as a group, and where we want to go as people.
The main focus was on balancing growth with who we are. We're a small team by design, and we only grow when needs arise (i.e., we're bootstrapped, so we take hiring decisions seriously). Nothing is rushed, and nothing is forced. Our main goal is not to be like GoDaddy, or to have millions upon millions of customers in the near future. We just want to keep providing great experiences to our customers, and comfortable livability to everyone on our team (team sanity is an under-appreciated metric).
So in 2015, we're going to work harder than ever to simplify domain registration and management for our customers—you. Because if we can keep you happy, maybe you'll tell a friend or two about what we do. That's how we've grown from the start, and that's how it'll be from here on out.
Quick Bali tips
- If you're ever in Ubud searching for an excellent cup of coffee (I crave a solid pour-over in the morning), Seniman Coffee is a great choice. The place is awesome for working or hanging out, the coffee and food are really good, and their cold brew is the best I had on the trip (there's nothing quite like a cold brew on a hot Bali day).
- Mexican food addiction is real (particularly my Mexican food addiction), and Taco Casa is a fantastic option (they make their own tortillas).
- Bali is a good place for vegetarians, and The Elephant was an excellent choice with an amazing view. If you go, be sure to get the fresh coconut.
- Don't leave Bali without getting a massage. Find the best place you can afford (everything in Bali is quite affordable), and chill out for a bit. You probably deserve it.
- The typical local beer is Bintang, and you'll find it literally everywhere (sometimes it's even there when you don't want it). If and when you need something different, go find some Stark Beer. After endless Bintang, it really hits the spot.