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Building a Thriving Remote Community with Martijn Smeets

Updated: Jul 4

We stumbled upon Martijn via one of the social media platforms. It turned out to be the start of an incredible conversation with mutual shared passions and interests. You guessed it: the world of travel & remote opportunities. Dive in and hear more about the story and unconventional path of this seasoned traveler, who built a thriving community for online entrepreneurs.

Martijn Smeets shares his journey from a digital nomad to the founder of The Thrive Tribe, a global network dedicated to supporting impact-driven entrepreneurs. Get ready to be inspired by his insights on community building, overcoming challenges, and personal growth in the remote work landscape.

Martijn Smeets smiling, founder of The Thrive Tribe, in a scenic outdoor setting
Martijn Smeets, founder of The Thrive Tribe, shares his journey from a digital nomad to building a global community for remote entrepreneurs.

Martijn, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you embarked on your journey as a digital nomad?

To be honest, I am not a digital nomad anymore as I have found a place I wanted to call home after being on the road for 5 years. But how I rolled into all that kind of happened naturally. I always knew I wanted to run my own business, since a young age. I was actually planning to go and study product design; I love being creative, so designing new innovative products sounded like so much fun. But first I decided to go travelling for the summer, and that summer turned into 5 years haha. 

First, working seasonal jobs around the world, passing on skills as a hobby, teaching people things for the fulfilment of seeing someone succeed. Naturally, when I found myself diving deeper and deeper within the entrepreneurial, mental health space, it came naturally to also pass on my knowledge and skills to others, and then being lucky enough that the world opened up for receiving this through the online space.

"Not choosing to change is unconsciously choosing to stand still"

Where are you at the moment, and what does the upcoming year look like?

At the end of last year, I split from my previous business partner, and just like when you split from a romantic relationship.. It takes a minute to find your feet again, figure out who you are without that person being part of your journey.

So, I went back to what is most important to me, and that is community. Building and holding a space where people truly feel seen, heard and like they belong, where people feel supported in their own unique journey. That is how The Thrive Tribe came to be, and my main focus this year will be on growing this entrepreneurial community to a thriving place to be for impact-focused entrepreneurs.

What inspired you to start The Thrive Tribe community, and what vision did you have in mind when you began?

It was actually a lack in my own life which led to the idea of The Thrive Tribe. I live in a small ski village in the Austrian Alps, 1h drive away from co-working spaces and bigger entrepreneurial communities. I love my newfound home, and wouldn’t want to change it for the world, but this is a part which I missed for sure.

Then thinking back from when I was still travelling, I missed being able to check in with the same people over a long period of time, people who knew my journey, knew my patterns, and could truly keep me accountable in the long term.

Members of The Thrive Tribe engaging in an online community for sustainable growth & achievements.
The Thrive Tribe community offers support and resources for entrepreneurs across the globe, fostering a thriving remote work environment.

As I couldn’t find a community like that, built purely for the fact of having a community, I decided to create it myself.

As for the big vision? Building a global community with live community centres scattered over the globe. Connecting travelling entrepreneurs with the local community, and so, create a thriving place for people on the road, whilst also creating a powerful hub for the local community to share their skills and learn powerful knowledge to thrive in their life as well. The online community is just the first step…

What are some of the key challenges you've faced in building and maintaining a remote community, especially one that spans different time zones and cultures?

I think you say it there…The time zones are definitely a challenge, people travel through time zones, which sometimes makes it difficult to host meetings at times which suit everyone, but once the community is big enough, I intent to split up the time zones and so create a more congruent space for all!

Next to that, it is to keep people’s attention…Digital nomads travel, entrepreneurs are generally busy, so being on top of their mind is the first challenge, but once the connection is there, we notice people truly show up, because they got to see the value they get from the open, vulnerable, conversations, and the high-level workshops being hosted.So, a good onboarding process is the solution!

Your community currently has a strong focus on Europe. You mentioned plans to expand to other time zones. 

Can you share some insights into your strategy for this global expansion and how you plan to maintain the community's cohesion?

I definitely don’t have it all figured out yet, with some challenges. I believe time will tell as I learned to move with the community, see what the needs are and play into those. But as mentioned, I intend to host different networking meetings compatible with the different time zones. The virtual co-working space will also be split up in that same way. The busier the community becomes, the more workshops at different times can be hosted.

I believe the cohesion would come through the personal connections people make within the community, as it is these connections which make the community as powerful as it is.Also, everything will always be hosted through 1 community platform, threads and chatrooms will be in 1 space, everyone can RSVP for every event… That way I hope to create a cohesive global community.

How do you organize and manage remote meetups? What have been some of the most memorable events or meetups that The Thrive Tribe has hosted?

As the Thrive Tribe is still fairly new, no meetups have been hosted yet, but definitely on the radar for later! As the community is meant for more than just entrepreneurial talk, I believe the meetups can also be more than that. Through collaboration I will let it happen naturally, this can be workations, co-livings, but also personal development retreats or even proper outdoor adventures (as I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie myself).

"Inspiration without action is mere entertainment"

What tools and technologies do you rely on to keep the community connected and engaged? Are there any must-have apps or platforms you recommend?

I use 2 different platforms myself, there is the virtual co-working space, where you can log into 24/7, where the meetings, workshops and meditations are hosted etc.To make the best use of that, I’d recommend having that on your laptop, but also through your phone can you join any meeting you desire.

Compatible with that, there is the community platform, this is an easy-to-navigate platform which you can use on your phone and/or laptop. Here you can easily find all the events with the time in your time zone, RSVP to get a reminder. There is a library where you can find all the recordings of the workshops, all the communication channels, truly a 1 platform for all!

How has your experience as a digital nomad and community leader contributed to your personal growth and professional development?

I believe my work is my best accountability buddy. Because I constantly talk about entrepreneurship with other entrepreneurs, mental health and personal development, I am constantly learning new tools and tricks. But most of all, I would feel like a traitor to myself if I would constantly talk to talk but not walk the walk, so it makes my motivation and discipline a lot easier to maintain. 

As the famous quote goes ‘You are a combination of the 5 people you spend the most time with’.

Due to running an entrepreneurial community, I constantly surround myself with entrepreneurs who are constantly working to become a better version of themselves every day, personally and professionally.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering making the leap into the digital nomad / remote entrepreneurial lifestyle? Are there any common misconceptions you'd like to debunk?

I think the biggest one is, don’t expect it to be easy…Online everyone shows a dreamy lifestyle with lots of travel, but not very often shown is the amount of work, literally blood sweat and tears that go into creating that lifestyle. I don’t know many, if any, entrepreneurs who truly made it without having at least a few complete breakdowns or massive setbacks, myself included.

Another one is, do it for the right reasons. Meaning; do it for you…Don’t do it because it looks cool or because someone else tells you, you should. If you start this journey, get crystal clear as to why you want to embark on this journey. As it is that why, which will give you the strength to move forward when all you want to do is give up.

Your why is your drive, so make sure it is genuine and it is aligned.

Martijn Smeets looking at the horizon which is symbol for goal setting and daring to dream big.
Learn from the past, look into the future, take action in the present.

Balancing work, travel, and personal life can be challenging. How do you manage this balance, and what routines or practices have you found most effective?

The first thing to realise when it comes to that is that work-life balance is not something you can achieve and maintain, as it is something which is constantly evolving… Depending on where you are in your journey, you might need more time to work, or more time to travel. And 2 months later, that can look completely different. Maybe you finished a project, or you are planning to spend some time at home to reconnect with friends and family. 

I believe being aware of where in your journey you are is nr.1. After that, I would say, build a routine, and stick to it, no matter what. I am the most productive from 5 till 10 am, so instead of having a slow morning (which sometimes I also desire and take) I choose to get up early (between 5 and 6am) and get things done.

Also, it’s very easy to stay busy without truly moving, so get clear on what the money-making tasks are in your business, what truly moves the needle (ask yourself, ‘Which tasks directly lead to me making offers and sales’) and do those first.As after that, you know that no matter what happens, you did what you need to move the needle.

What are your future plans for The Thrive Tribe? Any exciting projects on the horizon that you'd like to share with us?

As I mentioned before, the sky is the limit, but the next one for me is definitely starting with the remote meetups. I am now getting in contact with some people I am thinking of collaborating with, like yourself haha, to start these things. So, anyone who wants some amazing adventure times away whilst also connecting with like-minded entrepreneurs, learning new skills and making new life-long friendships? Stay tuned!

Who or what inspires you to keep pushing forward in your journey as a digital nomad and community builder? Any books, people, or experiences that have significantly influenced you?

I’ve personally lived in multiple offline communities around the world, and there are definitely some people I met there who still inspire me to this day when it comes to seeing how they seamlessly are able to play into the community’s needs, and connect people in a very conscious way.

Next to that one of the books which created one of the biggest shifts in my belief system is still ‘The synchronicity key’ By David Wilcock, an inspiring book explaining spiritual ideas with a scientific background.

AND the people in The Thrive Tribe, seeing them work towards their goals every day truly inspires me to do the same.

For those interested in joining the Thrive Tribe or learning more about your work, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?

The easiest way off course would be to join The Thrive Tribe, everyone gets a 2-week free trial, no credit card needed. So I would say; join, connect, come and feel the vibe. Learn from each other, and then decide whether or not this is something for you! Once you join, I will also reach out to have a virtual coffee if you would like!

Martijn Smeets enjoying a moment in the Austrian Alps.
True independence becomes much easier with an tribe you can depend upon

Connect with Martijn on Instagram:

Learn more about The Thrive Tribe:


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