The origins of Casal Partiu

I was coming back from a gig that night. The bus ride would last eight hours. In the morning I’d still have to hop on a plane for a two hours flight. All in all, a long travel back home. Enough to change the rest of my life.

Five years have past since that night of December 2007. The night when I decided it was about time to quit. I didn’t exactly quit a job. I quit almost everything.

Some background

In 2007 I was kind of a successful consultant in Brazil. I specialized in Agile Software Development and managed to create a good reputation in the field. Having published a book (Portuguese) on the topic in 2004 certainly helped a lot. Many people knew me around Brazil and I was asked to speak at several companies, universities and events.

I’ve been passionate about this job for years. But somehow it began to frustrate me more and more. Not because it was a bad work, but because I wanted something even better. I wanted to create products, instead of helping others create their products.

This feeling consumed me for more than one and a half year. I knew I wasn’t happy with that consulting career anymore, but I didn’t have the courage to change. And to make matters worse, I was more and more successful as a consultant. Which only made it more difficult to change.

It’s hard enough to change when things are bad. It’s much harder when everything is perfectly fine. Because it’s more difficult to justify the change.

I couldn’t sleep in the bus, so I turned to my iPhone and began to listen to some podcasts. Moments later I was listening to the famous Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech. I’ve listened to it before and I certainly agreed that we shouldn’t spend our lives doing something we didn’t like. But this time, another part of the speech got my attention.

He explained that he was fired from his own company. He was devastated and suffered a lot. But later, he became involved in other projects, like NeXT and Pixar. Fact is that he’d never get into these projects if he were still at Apple. So, in the end, being fired turned out to be very liberating.

I thought to myself, damn, I wish I had a boss to fire me. Then I wouldn’t have another choice. I’d have to leave behind this consulting work I didn’t love anymore and try new things.

That night I realized that I had to fire myself. I had to quit. It was the only way. And so I did it.

When I arrived at the airport, I opened the notebook and began to write a blog post where I made it clear that this was my last consulting gig (Portuguese). And that was my resignation letter.

The product

The year of 2008 saw the birth of Be on the Net (Portuguese), our beloved product. It was a different year. I didn’t have to travel anymore to attend the consulting gigs. I was working at home with my team all of the time. It was fun and full of excitement, but also a bit frightening. Would we be successful with the product?

We launched it about a year after my resignation from the consulting career. It wasn’t the most successful launch in the world. But it was good enough for a bootstrapped product.

We kept working on it and improving it on the following months. Eventually we managed to grow a customer base large enough to pay the bills.

Buenos Aires

When things settled down, Pati and I took some days off and went to visit Buenos Aires. It was the first time we went there together and we loved it. So much so that we began to discuss this crazy idea: moving to live there.

At the time we had a wonderful life at home. It was a large apartment in Niterói where we had an office for my team, another office for Pati’s team, a huge living room, a Wii room, and even a cook. Life was great there and we had a lot of fun. But that’s the thing, we’d stay there all of the time. We’d almost never leave, for reasons that I might write about in another opportunity.

This bothered me. The trip to Buenos Aires gave us the perfect excuse to begin a new change. But it wouldn’t be easy nor fast.

The transition

Pati is this incredibly awesome wedding photographer and she was completely booked not only for 2009, but also for 2010. So, in the best case scenario, we’d have to wait until the end of 2010 to move to Buenos Aires.

We used this time to prepare for the transition. We changed the way we worked with our team, so that we could work well remotely. A big change, actually, if you think that we worked together until that point, in the same work space.

On August of 2010 an apparently catastrophic event put our product at risk of extinction. Actually, we thought it would be the end of the product and the company. It was really nasty and it felt like the end of the world for us. We saw our plans going down the drain before our eyes.

Those were probably the most difficult days of our lives and we suffered like never before. What happened in those days would be enough to fill a book. It was painful but also very instructive. It taught us that even the hardest problems can eventually be solved with tons of energy, focus, time and perseverance.

One month later, things were back on track. Even better than before, despite losing a few customers in the process. We kept on with the product, the company and our dream of moving to Argentina. But we weren’t done yet.

We needed to sell all of our stuff. Together with some friends we created this great website. An auction system that was really simple to use and yet good enough to display and sell what we had. And the truth is that we had too much stuff. We’re not consumerists ourselves. But a large apartment attracts an immense mass of stuff over time. Ours was no exception.

The birth of Casal Partiu

We finally left Brazil on the 30th of December of 2010. We headed south, to Bariloche. A gorgeous town south of Buenos Aires, in the Argentinean part of Patagonia.

It was summertime and we didn’t want to be in hot Buenos Aires during those months of January and February. So we went to Bariloche firstly, where the summer is mild. We finally rested. But not for long.

I began to read a few books and two of them called my attention: Vagabonding and The Art of Non-Conformity. That’s how I learned about this concept of people traveling permanently. New kinds of nomads. They travel from place to place, but still work normally using new technologies that enables them to do things that were unthinkable just a few years ago.

Eventually I realized that Pati and I already had all of the necessary prerequisites to live like that. So I asked her: what if we don’t stay only in Argentina? What if we travel all of the time, like I read in those books? And once again she said: that sounds cool. Man, I love this woman!

Two years and dozens of countries later, we can’t get enough of it. Thank’s God for that uncomfortably long bus ride. That was the beginning of the best years of our lives.