In the summer of 2020 Joana Glória saw an opportunity in the Digital Nomads market to combine her understanding of Tourism with her love of Networking. The IPBN sat down with the founder of the popular Lagos Digital Nomads platform to find out more about what opportunities she sees in the market, how the pandemic shaped her big idea, and what the future of work can be, and how companies can jump on board.

“I launched the platform for Eat At a Local’s in 2019 where tourists could sign up to have an authentic Portuguese food experience at a local’s home. We were very lucky at the time that the media really took to the idea and gave us some great coverage, which really made a difference. It was a long year but by the end of it we had 100 hosts in Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira) and then, the pandemic hit. All my money had been invested in the platform and my income was zero, so I had to put the project on hold.”

Lucky for Joana, she had the full support of her family who welcomed her into their home while she figured out the next steps and waited out the pandemic one lockdown after another. “I moved back in with my mother in Lagos, and had lots of support from my network there,” she told the IPBN.

It wasn’t long after the pandemic began releasing its grip on Portugal that one of Joana’s contacts suggested that a lot of Digital Nomads were likely on their way to Portugal and that Joana might be in a good position to help them find accommodations since she was already very much tapped into that world through her previous project. She said, “Between September and May is the low season in the Algarve, so this was a huge opportunity.” Thanks to her efforts, we can now safely call this period in the Algarve the medium season as so many Digital Nomads are coming to stay for months at a time. “Some have stayed longer than three months and are looking to invest in property so they can live here permanently,” she says.

Once Joana started receiving commissions from placing incoming nomads, she arranged meet-up groups and grew the business into what it is today: leading digital nomads to local businesses.

Some businesses are now reaching out to Joana as she is building the platform out, but she told the IPBN that her focus has been on a curated list of local businesses that she has targeted specifically to ensure quality. “I’m expanding the listing categories as well to include wellbeing, self-care and beauty, dentists, health services, accounting, lawyers, real estate, banks, shops, and more and we are shifting to an annual subscription-based advertising service to digital nomads.” She recommended that anyone interested in joining the sales team should get in touch and that there are currently some advertising spots available on the platform, which are targeted to the proper nomad through data search algorithms. Joana says, “The project currently covers Lagos, Vila do Bispo, and Aljezur, but ads are open to businesses nationwide.”

Aside from building up the platform into the masterpiece it is turning into, Joana is now promoting her newest project-inside-a-project called “Workation” and is in the process of contacting companies and startups to join the program.

We have accommodation, places for them to work, good internet and food packages, experiences, and entertainment activities that will allow them to know and enjoy what the Algarve can best offer them. The idea is to allow digital nomads and/or traditional employees to work while on vacation. Packages range from Work+Golf to Work+Surf to Work+Sail and more and other packages can be tailor-made. Joana says, “Many people are getting motivated to find their work/life balance, and companies can benefit from this by establishing a better connection with their employees.” Sending an employee off to a program like this will not only help employers retain talent, but it will also attract new talent to a forward-thinking employee-centered business. Aside from nomads, the project also offers packages for families with a focus on relationship therapy while you work.

When the community re-starts in September, digital nomads are working through the project to set up workshops that will be free to IPBN members, so sign up for the newsletter and stay in touch! If anyone in the network has any event ideas they would like to share, Joana invites you to reach out. “Connecting people is my passion. My three favorite words are welcoming, meeting, and connecting!”

And the IPBN couldn’t agree more.