From a bad experience to building a product

Let me take you back a few years to 2017, when I embarked on my very first solo travel adventure. The destination was Tulum, and my goal was to disconnect from the world by turning off my phone for an entire week. Instead of opting for a fancy Airbnb or a Boho boutique hotel, I chose to stay at a campsite right by the beach. My intention was to experience a digital detox that only the calming presence of the ocean could offer. Little did I know, this trip would ignite a burning desire within me to explore every corner of the world and immerse myself in diverse cultures and unique ways of life.

 In 2018, my wanderlust led me to travel to China, Japan, Mexico City, Amsterdam, Brussels, Cape Town, and various cities across the United States. By the end of that year, I made a bold decision to leave behind my six-figure salary and venture into entrepreneurship. I embarked on my first business endeavor in Mexico City. As I continued traveling in 2019, this time to South America, I began envisioning a lifestyle centered around a grand plan—an ecosystem that revolved around the future of living, work, and travel.

During my stay in Mexico City in 2018, I vividly recall the peculiar accommodation choice I made. To save money for my upcoming journey to Africa, I booked a micro loft Airbnb on the fifth floor for a mere $12.00 USD per night. I endured two weeks in this cramped space while obtaining my South Africa visa. It was a challenging experience, but it served as a pivotal moment of realization. Deliberately choosing a small, budget-friendly place to stay allowed me to allocate my resources towards the Africa trip and concentrate on my work. However, what I hadn’t anticipated was the fact that the “apartment” was, in reality, a laundry/storage room situated on the rooftop of a four-story building. My neighbors were rows of washers, dryers, and piles of stored items. The room itself was incredibly tiny and sweltering, exacerbated by the scorching May temperatures in Mexico City. Despite the circumstances, I laughed it off, shaking my head at my own frugality. Yet, on the bright side, the Wi-Fi worked well, enabling me to be productive during my time perched atop the rooftop.

 This peculiar Airbnb experience sparked an “aha” moment within me. If someone could provide such a basic service and people were willing to pay for it, why couldn’t I create a remarkable experience for a community of digital nomads in a walkable neighborhood, without the exorbitant price tag? I delved into research but discovered that no one was undertaking such an endeavor at that time. That’s when I made up my mind to take matters into my own hands. In 2019, I founded my first U-Co location, followed by a second in 2020, a third in 2021, and a fourth in 2022. Thanks to our vibrant community of digital nomads, thousands have chosen to stay with us.

I share my journey of building U-Co because it epitomizes the unique experiences, both positive and challenging, that can inspire one to create an improved version of what already exists. Even if a particular product fails to garner attention or success, the experience of constructing something from scratch surpasses the value of any business degree. I encourage each and every one of you to seek out new adventures, to strive to build something that resonates with people, and to let your imagination soar. Personal and professional growth awaits on the other side of your comfort zone. So go forth, explore, build, and live life. Saludos amigos from a beach in Ecuador!