Aaron: “100% Virtual: A New Frontier”

The following is a story from Aaron, a (mostly virtual) Simbi member living and working remotely in Quito, Ecuador. Aaron is an “Industrious Drifter” with an entrepreneurial spirit and passion for culture and volunteering. Besides having a love for meeting new people and learning new skills, Aaron joined Simbi for an opportunity to “escape the hamster wheel.”


I am a freelance marketer or as I like to call myself an industrious drifter who moves slowly from country to country learning the culture while working from my computer to support myself. It’s an odd way of living life and has contributed to me thinking quite differently from the status quo. In fact, it’s probably why I was so drawn to Simbi in the first place.

The idea of sharing expertise without expecting something in return isn’t entirely new, and it’s a far more common practice than most headlines would admit. Yet, we in the US have a very difficult time being on the receiving end of one of the those transactions. The notion of holding our hand out and asking for help out of laziness turns most of us off. I hate feeling like a charity case and so do most people I come across. It is precisely that need to provide value that makes Simbi so amazing.

In my opinion, by taking an economic step back to bartering, we gain something that we lost so long ago. A direct link to someone valuing our service and as an extension ourselves. We have become so used to valuing our work with money that we have lost the human connection. Instead of me valuing your service. It’s me valuing my money but be willing to part with it in exchange for your service. Using dollars (or any other currency) in a way is fundamentally disconnecting humans.

So why does that matter? Because me getting a service is only half the equation. Offering the service is the other. More importantly, knowing the other person values my work enough to spend their precious time helping me, is the other half. Every successful transaction comes with the underlying benefit of knowing your work is valued enough for someone to give their most personal possession– time. And I think this is what makes Simbi so meaningful and addictive!

I digress… Where was I? Oh yes, MY Simbi story.

When I signed up and started using Simbi my main objective was to find help getting an idea I had for a startup out of my head and into the market. As a marketing guy with a technology idea I needed help with, well, all of the tech stuff. I put up a request and asked a few people for help. Juke answered. Our conversation was an amazing one. He is incredibly intelligent albeit a bit ADHD (I don’t feel bad saying it, since he will readily admit that himself). The combination of intelligence and ADHD means that Juke had 10 brilliant ideas all over the course of a minute and he just kept going! It was mind boggling, and wasn’t long until I could honestly consider Juke a friend rather than simply a business colleague. Interestingly, I found turning Simbi meetings into friendships became the norm rather than the exception.

During that first Simbi conversation with Juke, I was introduced to another cool guy named Bill. Later Bill and I would agree to become partners in making my dream startup a reality. It was the first hint of forward momentum toward creating my startup, and it all started with Simbi service swap.

From that point forward, I was a Simbiliever! I began filling any knowledge gaps I had with friends or Simbi trades. I needed a second and third opinion on tech strategy so I set up some Simbi deals. I needed some help brainstorming names and branding, so I set up some Simbi deals. I needed to know the best way to capture the data I wanted, so I set up a deal. I need some serious help with copy and UX strategy, so I set up a Simbi deal. I needed some help strategizing low budget ways to reach users, so I set up a Simbi deal. I wanted some help creating some foundational blogs for my launch so… you guessed it… I set up a Simbi deal.

Every deal has been a little bit different. Some have been like finding long lost friends, and laughing the entire time. Others have been a bit abrupt and not all that helpful. Yet, some have been absolute gold. The perfect combination of helpful and enjoyable.

I think one of the most interesting aspects of my story is how more than 90% of my deals have been strictly service exchanges. It’s amazing how many people are open to a service exchange even if they don’t have a pressing need for your service. Exchanging services opens a huge opportunity to be flexible with the conversation and let it go where it’s naturally led rather than feeling pegged by a fixed price transaction. Actually, for me it’s incredibly rewarding to know my skills in marketing or freelancing have helped me to build an entire startup complete with expert level opinions in tech, strategy, copywriting, UX, marketing and development. It’s a point of pride for me, seeing that my work directly contributed to building something so incredibly out of my depth.

It should also be mentioned that I’m currently living in Ecuador, which means all my exchanges were entirely virtual. I think 100% virtual services is a relatively new frontier for Simbi, but I found it incredibly easy. In fact, I haven’t had a single issue with anyone when asking for a virtual service, save the occasional internet malfunction.

Oh and I guess there is another pretty amazing aspect to building a company through Simbi. It cost me $0. Being a lean startup fan, that’s a huge win in my book.

I know my Simbi journey is a bit lucky. Not everyone will get introduced to an awesome business partner after their first exchange, but I also know something like that will happen everyone eventually. The Simbi community is a family. There are some weird cousins you would rather not hang out with, but there are also a bunch of other people who will care about you and will help you succeed in anyway they can. It’s a community atmosphere which I hope doesn’t fade as the platform grows.

So you might be asking yourself, what is this fledgling startup raised in the caring arms of the Simbi community? Well, I’m calling it BLINDHR (I pronounce it like ‘blinder’) a team committed to creating technology that helps underdogs get their dream jobs, and hopefully in the process changes the way the world does hiring! Feel free to check it out at BLINDHR.com. We just recently launched the site at blindhr.com. There has been a lot of care going into this from people all over the Simbi community.

So I guess the moral of the story is… Take a chance, put yourself out there and let this amazing community carry you to success!

Aaron B.


Simbiotic Stories are real anecdotes told by you and other Simbi community members. Tell us about your Simbi deals and experiences with other members. If your story is published, we’ll credit your account with 150 simbi. Submit your entries by starting a conversation with us via this link.

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