Bunch of positive energy and one backpack: Raphael
November 9, 2014

Raphael Harmel is a French digital nomad with a lot of positive energy and one small backpack. He spent last 3 weeks in Surf Office Santa Cruz.

What kind of dream job which allows you to travel around the world do you have?

I had a chance to become a digital entrepreneur. 2 years ago I co-founded a startup company called Speecheo, a web-app for speakers to have feedbacks on their speeches while helping attendees understand better.

This allows me to do my job while being a location-independent. I decided to seize this chance to travel and discover some of the amazing gifts the world offers us.

Tell us more about your “journey”

Everything started 2 years ago in one hackathon in Paris where I met my actual Speecheo’s partners. Few months later, we were selected to join Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Paris.

When the acceleration program was completed, my first trip could begin.

I decided to go to San Francisco to find opportunities for Speecheo and meet the Silicon Valley’s ecosystem. I stayed one month, met startups, partners, investors and participated to several startup contests.

Then we were selected to join the Lisbon Challenge Accelerator for 3 months. Apart from the business side that was essential, I fell deeper into the traveller mind-set. I loved a life-style I was discovering in Lisbon: a beautiful city, an excellent weather, extremely friendly people, and great surfing conditions. I really enjoyed everything and was connected even more to the local culture, I started learning Portuguese and also Forró, a popular Brazilian dance.

I just loved this unique experience as it made me grow a lot as a human being. I was anxious for more adventure!

After a quick “London roadshow” trip organized by the Lisbon Challenge, I went back to France to see my friends and family. My previous travel experiences validated the fact that I could work with my partners remotely. And I felt I had to seize this opportunity and continue discovering more amazing cultures and countries.

So after one month back in France, I decided to start my current trip around the world . This was 2 month ago.

It all started with the “US Roadshow” organized by the Lisbon Challenge to meet investors, accelerators and gigantic internet companies. We started in San Francisco and ended up in Boston. Everybody went back to Europe except 2 persons: a friend of mine who was living there and me. I stayed there few weeks. Then I went to New Orleans, an amazing city with all its music and good vibes.

Then I went to Las Vegas because Speecheo had been selected at a startup competition at IMEX, the biggest conference in the world for event planners. There we won the first price that gave us a really good media exposure without paying a cent.

Then I decided to go to Santa Cruz, as I wanted to discover a new concept called “The Surf Office”…

My next destination is going to be Central & Latin America.

Which are your 3 favorite co-working spaces you’ve visited so far?

1. NUMA / Paris, France

This is a good example of a co-working space initiated by a non-profit association (Silicon Sentier) and financed by a public institution (the French Government) and other partners.

Whenever I was in Paris, this was my home base.

It is a place gathering a fee and paying a co-working space, the most known French accelerator: Le Camping and a floor experimenting on innovative concepts like big data, 3D printing and so on.

It is the best spot to meet people in the Parisian startup ecosystem.

2. LINNK / Lisbon, Portugal

This is a good example of a co-working space created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. The initiators of this Lisbon Innovation Kluster are Joana Rafael & Vasco Portugal. They studied in Boston and saw several co-working places which inspired them to do similar thing in Lisbon.

They provide several resources for entrepreneurs:

  • a cool and design co-working place
  • a community of professionals (dev, designers…)
  • with possibilities to share & exchange competencies

3. Capital One 360 Café / San Francisco, USA

This is a good example of a co-working space created by a private company.

This place, owned by the Capital One bank, is my favorite co-working place in San Francisco for its wood and industrial design. It is also quite huge as there are 3 levels. Furthermore, it is totally free! You don’t even have to order anything from the bar.

And I have a fourth one: The Surf Office Santa Cruz
but you’ve already known it 🙂

How do you keep your body and mind in shape during your traveling?

I think it is extremely important to have a good balance in life. If you don’t take care of you body, mind and soul enough, it can be really hard to release your full potential and to put all of your energy in realising your dreams.

Whenever I travel, I try to find places which allows me to practice my favorite sports: surf and kitesurf. As a backup plan, I also run, as it is the simplest sport ever: you just need a shorts and a pair of shoes.

I am also a big fan of yoga, which I discovered earlier this year. It is an excellent activity to improve your flexibility and work on your breathing. It is really powerful to release your stress.

Thanks to yoga, I also discovered meditation. Even if I started practicing it recently, it is a real revelation for me. I see it as a practice to calm the mind by focusing on your breath but also to work on your spirituality.

We have so many things going on on our minds all the time, and it’s good to have a tool to relax our brain. “Mindfulness” is one of the root pillar of meditation. It is an idea of being fully “in the moment” and as a consequence trying to avoid the interruptions. This is extremely important in both my personal and professional life.

Another side-effect is starting to listen to your intuition more by lowering the weight of your mind in your decisions. You can also work on trying to be a better person which is not that bad either.

What software do you use to communicate with others?

At Speecheo, we use extensively Google tools: Gmail (just switched to Google Inbox and I’m loving it), Hangouts, Google drive.

We use Rapportive, a Gmail plugin, which is an extremely powerful tool to know the company and job position of people based on their email addresses. For project management we use Slack, a group chat with categories.

To communicate with friends and family I also use Facetime a lot, which is super easy to use. The cool thing is that you don’t really need to plan anything, you just call !

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