Sramana Mitra: You started doing this in 2008 you said?
Kean Graham: 2010.
Sramana Mitra: In 2010, you basically worked with your prior employer and figured out how to increase their revenue. When did you add team members to this process?
Kean Graham: About the third year. For the first three years, I was outsourcing. I hired my parents part-time to do some of the reporting, but it was pretty small scale.
Sramana Mitra: Did you meet your objective of traveling during those three years and working from wherever you wanted?
Kean Graham: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: Talk to me about the arrangement of your life during these first three years when you were just doing this by yourself. What were the different places that you worked out of? How much time did you spend in each of them and how did you arrange your day to accommodate time for traveling? Talk to us about your lifestyle.
Kean Graham: I was able to go on my first location-independent travel by the ninth month of the business. The first trip was within the US. I went to a conference in Las Vegas. Then I traveled around the East Coast. I would stay in a combination of friends’ places, couch surfing, and hostels. I would work from whatever accommodation I chose. I’d be traveling via plane, bus, or boat. Essentially, I was able to work from anywhere whether I had a wireless connection or I would organize my work so that anything that I can do offline, I would save for the next in-between city travel.
Sramana Mitra: How long did this US trip last?
Kean Graham: For a month and a half.
Sramana Mitra: Then you went back to Victoria?
Kean Graham: Yes. I was pretty much planning the next trip.
Sramana Mitra: How long did you spend in Victoria and when did you do the next trip?
Kean Graham: I was in Victoria for about three months and then I did my second trip in Western Europe.
Sramana Mitra: How long was that trip?
Kean Graham: That was for two months. I went to Spain, France, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and England.
Sramana Mitra: Not Italy?
Kean Graham: Unfortunately no. This second trip was in a whole different continent and I was able to learn how to better work while traveling and find connections on the go. My business is optimization but I was also optimizing my travel and work lifestyle.
Sramana Mitra: A couple of questions on that front. At this point, is your former company that you were working with your only client?
Kean Graham: We had one client for the first two years.
Sramana Mitra: All this travelling is happening in the context of that one client. Second question on that is on this second trip, what were some of the optimization that you learned in terms of working while traveling?
Kean Graham: I would get a SIM card. I would make sure to get mobile data for every country that I would go to. That would give me more freedom to be able to work from anywhere because I could be on call, answer emails, or reply Skype messages on the go.
Sramana Mitra: You were working out of a mobile though, right?
Kean Graham: Yes. I would be on top of the Eiffel Tower and be on a conference call. To tell you the truth, the clients would have no clue. They think I was in an office. In terms of other travel hacks, I stayed in hotels here and there but I prefer hostels because I found that Internet is actually, on average, a lot better in hostels. My theory behind that is hostels are a lot more front-facing to the customers than hotels. Whenever the Internet’s down, the hostel staff hears right away. For that reason, I definitely stay in hostels so I can get better and reliable Internet. I was able to work a lot easier within hostels.