Ex-Apple & Ex-Walmart PM, who’s building a dating app for digital nomads
Taige is interested in Product Management & Tech Strategy
1. Hey, can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Taige, and I’ve only recently become remote, so it’s been fun to meet other remote workers and find awesome communities like Remote Clan to help me to adjust to my new lifestyle.
That said, I’ve been in different countries my entire life, just not as a remote worker. I was born in China and grew up in Canada and America. After my Master’s in the UK, I worked at Apple as an analyst. It was there I learned about Product Management and fell in love with technology. I’ve been building cool things at startups ever since.
These days, I’m working on Fairytrail, a dating & social travel app, that helps people match and date anywhere by meeting on public Airbnb and Viator adventures together. Health and relationships are two of the most important things in life, so I’m grateful I have the chance to work on something so meaningful.
Outside of building tech products, I enjoy making maps, sailing, and freediving.
2. What motivated you to choose remote working?
I’m fascinated by different cultures, history, and places. Working a 9 to 5 job and taking 2 vacations a year doesn’t really let us deeply experience the world. Being remote lets me experience our world more fully, and I felt that it would be regrettable to not fully explore the world in the short time we have on this planet. This is one of the reasons why I made a dating & social travel app-- to help people discover how amazing our world is.
From a more practical point of view, it makes things easier. Remote work gives more flexibility to workers and also can reduce the cost of the business, which is super important as a startup.
3. What were your initial months like? Did it live up to your expectations?
I think everyone does remote work differently. Some people might choose crazy time zones or travel frequently. For me, it’s been more conservative. For now, I’m staying in North America and don’t move around too much. I do miss the office environment. There’s a certain level of creativity and velocity that’s hard to match when you’re working remotely, but there’s also a high level of efficiency you can gain from being remote.
Before Covid, it was great, but remote work has been tough because of the inability to socialize and destress. Loneliness was already cited as a top struggle for remote workers and now with limited social events and interactions, restricted travel, and shut offices, it has become drastically more isolating.
4. How did you find remote working roles?
For Fairytrail, we initially were using Upwork and Indeed. Now, we’re also using Remotive and Remote. These two specialized sites have been great in terms of looking for jobs and finding talent. There’s also many Facebook groups, but those haven’t been as high calibre in my experience. Some Facebook groups I recommend for nomads are Campfire (I’m one of the founders), Bad Ass Digital Nomads, and Remote Like Me.
5. What have been the best, good and worst aspects of remote working for you?
The pros most definitely outweigh the cons. The best part is how much I have learned and how many connections I have made in a very short amount of time. The digital world makes us more connected than ever.
For example, I have had people reach out to me to collaborate on projects through Facebook groups. One of my favorites has been Asian Hustle Network. The people are really friendly and I was able to find a designer for my app through it.
The worst part I’d say is how many hours of sitting is involved in remote work. 90% of it is laptop based and very sedentary. There’s also a lot of issues with loneliness and burnout. Oftentimes, we don’t have a close physical, social community when working remotely, so we need to develop mechanisms and solutions to deal with loneliness and burnout.
6. What tools do you swear by while working remotely?
I heavily use Zoom, GSuite, and Slack for work. For socializing I use Facebook, Fairytrail, and Remote Clan. For exercise, I use YouTube and YouTube Music.
Non-digital tools include a Macbook Pro and Samsung Note 10 phone.
7. Your most exciting/ hilarious experience since you started working remotely.
I think the most exciting thing is just connecting with people in the community. There’s such diversity. One person I met invited me to tour Dreamworks studio so that was amazing. I think the secret to life is relationships. It makes life so rewarding and people are the doors to opportunities. It’s really people who lead us to new adventures, business opportunities, knowledge, and love.
8. What is your golden advice to a new remote worker?
Find communities like Remote Clan, Remote Year, or Hacker Paradise! Meet other remote workers. It can be very isolating otherwise.
I’ve also done a lot of research on how to improve mental and physical health. One of the most well researched ways to improve health beyond eating and exercise is being in a long-term romantic relationship.
Studies found married people are least likely to be lonely and have mental disorders. Other benefits include less depression, less substance abuse, less anxiety, and stronger immunity, longer life, and higher levels of happiness. These gains apply to both men and women.
During the pandemic, married couples saw fewer infections and reported less loneliness than those who are single, divorced, separated, or cohabiting.
So it might be good to find a partner or a group of friends to “remote” together.
9. How do you see your career shaping up and your goals?
I’m optimistic! It’s all about the people and I’m grateful for the people around me. I hope to meet more incredible souls all around the world through this community and others. I’d like to help people achieve their dreams and experience life more fully.
In terms of business, I’d love to have Fairytrail take off and be known to more people. It’s already helped many people find the love of their lives and have breath-taking travel experiences. I love seeing people happy and feeling alive.
10. How do you expect remote working to evolve in the future?
We’ll definitely have more remote work in the future. It will be better as it becomes more mainstream. My friend Kristin wrote this amazing article on the future of work and you should read it.
Some points that I really agree with and stuck out are:
- People will move to smaller cities. You already see this with falling prices of rent in big cities such as SF and Seattle.
- More mobility and interconnectedness. You’ll meet more people from other countries through work and social life.
- Technology will better support the challenges of a digital lifestyle. I expect innovation in areas such as mental health solutions, remote work collaboration tools, VR experiences, and borderless insurance/banking.
11. Where can we follow you on?
Also, read what motivated me to build Fairytrail in the first place.