On the Record: The Story Behind Remote.com
In 2020, thanks to the global Coronavirus pandemic, companies large and small have been adopting remote work. Twitter, for example, has reportedly told staff that they can now work remotely forever.
With remote work here to stay, we’re featuring a startup that is aiming to help companies with the often painful bureaucratic process of hiring an employee in another country. That startup is Remote, and they operate on Remote.com.
Here, I chat with Remote’s co-founder Job van der Voort about the company, how he ended up using Remote.com, and what impact that has had on his company.
Can you give me some background on your own entrepreneurial journey, up to the point where you founded Remote.com?
Years ago, I left a place at a Ph.D. program in neuroscience to pursue building my own company – it didn’t pan out (i.e. I ran out of money to support myself) and ended up finding a job as a programmer. I was determined to start a new venture, and built some things with friends at that time. One of them was a company that served homeowners associations.
At the programming job, I met Sid, who founded GitLab [Sid Sijbrandij]. I ultimately created and led the GitLab Product team as VP of Product.
After five years, intending to only stay for a year initially, I left GitLab to solve one of the largest issues we faced there: you find someone awesome in another country; how do you pay them? And provide them benefits? And stay compliant?
What does Remote do, and what pain point does it solve for companies?
We provide payroll, benefits, compliance and employer-of-record services for international teams.
If you want to hire someone in a different country, and they are a full-time employee of yours, you have to provide them with a local employment agreement, payroll, and statutory benefits. That is only possible if you have a local company, which is a lot of work to set up.
Remote solves all this by having its own local entities, and hiring the people for you as employer-of-record and taking care of payroll, benefits, and anything that comes with legally hiring someone locally.
How did you go about acquiring Remote.com? Did you seek it out? Was it offered to you?
I reached out directly to Nick and Elina, who owned the domain. We worked together for a while and eventually reached an agreement about Marcelo (co-founder) and I taking over the domain and company fully.
Remote is still a young company, so why was it important for you to get the right domain upon launching?
Ha, yes! I figured it was the only “right” name for what we were doing. It was a long shot to go from thinking about the name to actually getting it. I suppose we were lucky.
Why was Remote.com so vital to you, over something like GetRemote.com for example, which would likely be available for a much lower cost?
Remote.com seemed like the best possible domain for our goals. That was the only thing that mattered. I’m a strong believer in clarity in design and language, so when I decided to address remote work, Remote.com seemed like the best possible domain. Nothing is simpler for us than Remote.com.
If we didn’t get Remote.com, I’d probably search for a different single-word, rather than a weaker combination.
You said that “If we didn’t get Remote.com, I’d probably search for a different single-word, rather than a weaker combination.” Why are single-word domains so alluring from a branding point of view?
It’s simple, and that makes it attractive. Easy to remember, hard to get wrong. Like great design.
You’ve now raised $11 million and are listed in Crunchbase’s top 1,000-ranked companies. How big a part has the Remote.com domain played in your ability to gain trust, traction, and business in the year since you founded the company?
I think it helps a lot to have a strong name. It’s hard to quantify this, but I’ve uttered the line “good name, good domain” more than once.
How has COVID-19 impacted the traffic and general interest in Remote.com?
We’ve seen more interest, of course! We also started making more noise around that time, so it’s hard to pinpoint the underlying reason for increased attention and traffic.
What advantage does owning Remote.com give you compared to other companies offering similar services at the moment?
The name is unforgettable, and extremely strongly linked to the current times.
Thanks to Job for taking part in our On the Record series. Handily, Remote also operates the @Remote handle on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, so you can follow the company’s progress there.
This interview has been edited for clarity.