The Fetch Blog

The best events and reads for professionals

A new, digital destination: the ultimate pop-up guide to Rome, Italy — September 15, 2015

A new, digital destination: the ultimate pop-up guide to Rome, Italy

Italy’s capital is a stunning place of age-old history and monuments that meet the eye with awe and wonder. Less obvious, perhaps, is the quickly growing ecosystem of technology and creative work. As one founder noted in 2012, the startup scene is “exploding faster than a tomato in Fruit Ninja.” Turns out these folks are putting out much more than some of the world’s best pasta plates. So what’s Rome’s digital life like? Here are some observations and learnings after an escape from the San Francisco startup scene to a summer of freelancing in the Eternal city.

The vibe

I’ll admit, the growing digital and tech scene feels a little bit secret as it can be easily lost among the tourist traps and obvious draws to the city. There are certainly cultural aspects that make Rome feel different than other well-known tech hubs like Silicon Valley. For example, Romans have much less trust in fin tech applications (many people don’t pay bills online or exchange money using technology) and little interest in on-demand apps or the gig economy. With the latter comes a bit of “old-school” thinking — and far less Uber rides.

Fiat 500s rule the road, a pop-up guide to Rome

Let’s just say that getting to work looks a bit different, with smartly-dressed professionals whizzing by on scooters and driving themselves in cute little cars like a Smart or the Fiat 500. Other things, like an engineer’s growing stomach (as a result of long hours at the office) seem to be universal. “The more tummy, the more skill”, I was told over a huge, late night pizza.

Education for future employees

A healthy mix of Italians, EU citizens, and expats help bring Rome’s digital scene to life, many of them young, talented and ambitious. Long admired for the sciences, Rome is home to many universities that provide a solid engineering education. La Sapienza, one of the world’s oldest public educational institutions, is highly regarded. Roma Tre and Tor Vergata, two other public universities, also graduate students who have meticulously studied for careers in internet related disciplines, like programming, privacy and security.

Luiss Business School, a pop-up guide to Rome. Photo by Luiss Business School

For marketing and entrepreneurship, Luiss Business School, Italy’s first MBA program, is a popular, private option. The school boasts a partnership with the Confindustria, making it a prime place to network and find a career-worthy, post-graduate position in Rome or other Italian cities. An excellent school, Luiss Business School is also a relatively inexpensive choice for an English-taught MBA when compared to similar US institutions.

Engineers and entrepreneurs who studied outside of Rome still have much reason to bring their business to Italy, as the country has recently provided a unique set of laws to encourage economic development.

Government initiatives and new laws

Italy introduced the startup visa in 2012. A result of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development’s agenda, the country’s startup laws were specifically designed to bring investment to promising, developing companies. While Milan is undoubtedly Italy’s technical capital, Rome’s central location, history, and proximity to diverse landscapes make it an ideal choice for a place to start up.

Rome city center, a pop-up guide to Rome. Photo by Krista Gray

Financially speaking, Italy’s new flexible labor law (which is applicable to a startup’s entire four year life cycle) has made it easy for startups to offer temporary contracts to employees, as well as issue performance-related pay — two things that vary from earlier law. Companies hiring ‘highly qualified’ employees without a time-sensitive contract (options range from 6-36 months) can take advantage of an outrageous 35% tax credit as reward. Talk about saving on salary! As far as stock and equity goes, startups in Italy are also able to offer external consultants stock options with ‘privileged tax treatment’ or the option to work for equity.

Foreign freelancers also have the possibility of living and working in Rome, with application available via a second visa. The freelance visa, known as a visto di lavoro autonomo, is a bit more difficult to get as it requires first obtaining a nulla osta in Italy. This tedious process involves meeting income requirements along with sharing a statement of work and a proven place to stay. However, it can be a good option for non-EU creatives or industry professionals who are dedicated to taking advantage of Rome’s growing digital scene.

Accelerators and investment

With government initiatives set to support new business and startups, Italy has become a valuable place for investors and accelerators. Not only do corporations, investors, and venture capitalists benefit from the second highest tax relief in the European Union, but Italy is the first country in the world to introduce special rules for equity crowdfunding. With such a specific set of regulations, many investors have taken to startups based in Rome.

Several accelerators cater to helping companies kick things into gear, including Luisse En Labs, which supports startup growth. Club Italia Investment is also known as a well-positioned ‘accelerator enhancer’, a newly modeled vehicle that helps supplement startups’ accelerator funding.


Rome is home to more than 150 startups, as noted on Angellist. Listed with an average valuation of 2.5 million, companies range in size from small founding teams to mid-size and larger. Much like in some of the designer offices that make the press from Silicon Valley, culture rules and perks keep employees happy.

The EUR District, a pop-up guide to Rome

Pi.campus is a solid example of what Italian startup life can look like, the office complex located in Rome’s bustling, green EUR district. Pi.Campus’ website shows an exclusive club dedicated to providing ‘the best work environment for talented people’ and counts top startups Filo, Chupamobile, and Wanderio as its inhabitants. Though not in residence at Pi.Campus, hot startups like Pathflow, LuxuryEstate, FaceSmash, Netlex, YepLike!, and UnFraud also call Rome home.


Smaller companies, remote workers, freelancers and creatives who don’t have space in a place like Pi.campus have plenty of opportunities to co-work. While the list of spaces I put together isn’t as extensive as what some I’ve seen for New Zealand, Australia, London, or San Francisco, there’s no shortage of great places to get stuff done:

Cowo360 coworking space, a pop-up guide to Rome. Photo by Cowo360

  • Cowo360: A favorite coworking space in Rome. The location is visually stunning, with sleek, leather furniture and sophisticated artwork.
  • Impact Hub: Desks in a space dedicated to social interaction. Impact Hub is a great place to meet people and freely exchange ideas.
  • Spqwork: Customized spaces have access to Spqworks’ FabLab, which offers 3D printer use, among other perks.
  • Regus: A familiar name with worldwide locations, Regus offers office space and coworking rooms for startups, remote workers, and freelancers.
  • Let’s Make: A beautiful, creative space for programmers and makers.

Though Roman coffee shops are more of the standup bar variety, it’s not unusual to find folks with laptops in places like Romeow (which is also an impeccably decorated cat café!), La.Vi (bonus points for the roof deck) and Café Café (just steps from the Colosseo).

Romeow cat bistro, a pop-up guide to Rome. Photo by Romeow.

Community, events, and groups

Folks flock to Rome to see some of the world’s most impressive architecture and art exhibits, but those in digital disciplines will be pleasantly surprised at the smattering of community groups and events available in the city, too. From blogger nights to Instagram meet-ups, programming groups, and major conferences, Rome’s scene offers true variety. Here’s a handful of cool, upcoming events:

Though not specifically Roman, the Facebook group Italian Startups is a good place to connect with founders and employees in many cities, and currently counts more than 20,000 members. A second group, Italian Startup Events, caters specifically to happenings and counts 8,000 people (many Romans) as members.

Ready for Rome? Would love to hear your thoughts, questions or experiences in regard to the ancient city’s transition to a technical hub. Leave your notes in the comments!

Featured image illustration by Lotta Nieminen

Coffee talk: Denise Jacobs, creativity evangelist and speaker — September 14, 2015

Coffee talk: Denise Jacobs, creativity evangelist and speaker

Denise Jacobs is a teacher, author and powerful speaker who will discuss processes and techniques for dramatically enhanced creative productivity at this year’s Sydney-based Web Directions Conference. While talking with Denise about her inspiring professional journey, we learned how to overcome speaking fears and procrastination. Read on for her tricks and story about finding her true passion.

How did you get to where you are today?

It feels like a long story, but I started making handmade soap in 1997 to get back in touch with my own creativity. My friends really liked it, and people kept asking if I sold it. At first, I found it baffling and kept saying, ‘no, no, no!’. But when people started asking what was in it, I started offering to teach them how to make it themselves. I had two small classes of about five people each at my house.

From there, I started teaching at an adult extension school. I discovered that I really loved teaching! Though I was working in the web industry on project management projects, I found myself without the passion I felt when helping people. I was knowledgeable about web stuff and had built some experience teaching, so I thought I’d combine them to teach web classes at Seattle Central College. About five years later, that job ended and I coincidentally went to my first web conference. I saw Molly Holzschlag, an open web evangelist, speak. What we were doing was so similar – but she was speaking in front of thousands. I instantly knew I wanted to do the same.

About four years later, I finally broke into the web speaking circuit. I had just authored my first book, The CSS Detective Guide, and it gave me the confidence to pursue opportunities. I took it by storm, applying everywhere, building a reputation as a good speaker. Now I get invited, which is a dream come true!

When did you realize that you had an ability to help others be creative and produce great work? 

It totally came from teaching. Through the soap classes, I realized that I was good at explaining, at helping people learn about the things they found interesting. Once I started at Seattle Central Community College, I knew I had found something that I was passionate about and wanted to do more of.

Today, you’re an accomplished public speaker. What tips do you have those with fear of getting up in front of people?

Two things. The first is to know that if you have one more piece of information to share than someone in the audience already knows, then you are helping. I find that people are afraid to speak because they feel like they don’t have anything new to offer. Remember, the lens of your experience is unique and people always need reminders. You are valuable!

The second piece of advice I can offer is to remember that people are rooting for you. Attendees aren’t sitting and casting an evil eye – they’re there to learn and be entertained. Think about this when you get in front of people. Know that everyone is supporting you.

You’re a featured speaker at the upcoming Web Directions conference. What’s special about this event? What are you most excited about?

I met one of the founders of Web Directions, John Allsop, at SXSW in 2006. I had long admired his work and used it in my classes, and he proved to be one of the best people I met! I’ve been wanting to speak at Web Directions for years, and was finally invited to do so this year.

Sydney, Australia: home of the 2015 Web Directions Conference

I’m also really excited to go to Australia – I’ve never been – and a lot of my industry friends like Hannah Donovan and Daniel Burka are taking part. The crowd is sure to be amazing, and I know it’s going to be a great time.

A frequent traveler, how do you stay connected when moving around? How do you stay focused?

To stay connected, I make a conscious effort to see people I know when I travel. This includes friends, or in new places, digital contacts. Connecting with people makes places more feel meaningful for me. One thing I like to do is shop for groceries wherever I go – it’s an everyday, self-care thing. Restaurants feel less grounded.

For staying focused, I concentrate on the thing that is in front of me. If I can, I don’t think about things that are too far out. I use an email auto responder with my upcoming schedule, Calendly for meetings, and airline apps like Tripit to help take care of little details.

What was your proudest, professional moment?

This past June, I was the closing keynote at a conference in Columbus, OH (an hour from where I was born/grew up). It was the first time I was able to have my Mother at a conference. As if that wasn’t enough, my 91 year old Grandfather also came from Detroit to hear me speak, and friends from my hometown, including my favorite high school teacher, were also in the audience.

This was one of my best speeches as I was really on and felt an amazing connection with the audience.

I had structured my talk in a way that helped me really speak to technical attendees, and made it a point to tie in the opening keynote with several other earlier talks from the conference. I was so honored to receive a standing ovation from that crowd, and in awe over audience feedback. It was a really special, magical milestone in my career.

How do you maintain work/life balance?

I bracket my time carefully when I’m home, and make myself stop working by using alarms. I deliberately don’t work on weekends. I also recently decided to start imposing a ‘mandatory beach day’ for myself after each work trip. This comes after a recent four-day staycation in Palm Beach (my backyard) which left me asking myself, “why don’t I do this all the time?!”

How can someone overcome procrastination to be more productive?

Instead of focusing on doing the task, trying just getting ready to do it. Open your app or document, get your notes together, maybe jot down a couple of ideas. By just getting ready, you may be inspired to do it. Another trick to try is the Pomodoro technique — block off a small amount of time for the thing you don’t want to do, knowing you only have to work on it for a limited time. You’ll be surprised how easily it can kick you into gear!

What, if any, events/workshops/classes do you regularly attend or recommend?

I can’t recommend Improv classes enough. Not only do they teach you how to be creative, but they’re great for building self-trust. They also help you realize that you don’t always need to plan ahead, how to collaborate and rely on others.

BATS in San Francisco offers classes, along with IO in Chicago and Gotham City in New York City. Find a place and go!

Where can we find you online?

My website, Facebook page, and Twitter are all good places to keep up with me.

Last, how do you like your coffee?

I actually prefer a chai tea latte with soymilk over coffee (chai tea is the best!), but if I get a coffee it’s usually a decaf almond milk latte.

Featured job: Community Manager at Macropod, Melbourne — September 11, 2015

Featured job: Community Manager at Macropod, Melbourne

Macropod is a software development company based in Yarraville, Melbourne. Macropod is a business built on trust, diversity and openness with the single-minded goal to deliver great software to people who build the web.

Macropod’s growing team is currently 13 strong. In addition to a fantastic coffee machine, the company offers excellent employee benefits including flexible personal and parental leave policies. It’s safe to say you’ll be able to work autonomously, but the team is composed of people who like to share and love what they do. Macropod considers people’s “goodness” a key factor in hiring.

About you

You’re an expert at handling all things social media. You excel at building online communities and present yourself in a friendly and open manner (i.e. you’re not likely to be mistaken for a lawyer). You love of tech and consider yourself a bit of a geek.


  • Take the reigns of Macropod’s social media presence. You’ll curate and write content for the website and start engaging with the community in a more meaningful (read: measurable) way.
  • Attend tech events and rep the company tee with ease. You’re the kind of person who can make friends with a paper bag, but you should be great at talking to actual people. In fact, identifying groups of like-minded people and leveraging platforms to engage with them is your speciality.
  • Implement monitoring and reporting systems. You’re also pretty handy with monitoring and reporting tools (the team currently uses Hootsuite, but the software world should be your oyster). It’s a bonus if you’re a writing whiz and/or can speak ‘developer’.

How to apply?

All expressions of interest to email with CV and cover letter. The team can’t wait to meet you!

Coffee talk: Gesche Haas, trailblazer and founder of Dreamers // Doers — September 7, 2015

Coffee talk: Gesche Haas, trailblazer and founder of Dreamers // Doers

Gesche Haas is the dynamic force behind Dreamers // Doers, a high-impact community of trailblazing women. Aiming to power the sharing economy 2.0 by capitalizing on human capital vs. fixed assets, she works tirelessly on building the powerful community with an innovative approach. We talked with Gesche about what it’s like to work full-time on a dream, where she finds inspiration on difficult days, and how Dreamers // Doers is helping women leverage each other as a powerful resource.

How did you get to where you are today?

A lot of it has to do with my diverse upbringing: I’m half German, half Chinese-Malaysian, and due to my father’s work in development aid, lived in various countries growing up. I was born in Africa (Kingdom of Swaziland) and went to college in Hong Kong.

Being exposed to a diverse set of experiences and people has made me very open-minded, highly appreciative of diversity, and obsessed with “understanding” over judgement. It also contributed to my insatiable appetite to create, because I somehow think anything is possible. Seeing this much variety while growing up also led to my slightly rebellious, non-conformist nature.

How did you come up with the idea for Dreamers // Doers?

Dreamers // Doers started by accident early 2014 out of a personal need, when I was working on my first venture and lacking a support system. I thought a lot of the struggles I was facing as a founder were unique and that “I must just really suck at this!”. I started by organizing weekend coworking brunches every weekend with fellow entrepreneurial women, so that I wouldn’t have to work on my own all the time.

It was game-changing. For the first time, I found other women who I could not only in-depth talk about the slew of work-related issues we were facing, but who also understood the existential fears that can come with being a trailblazer. Best of all, each one of us would go out of our way to help each other, increasing our cumulative success.

Why is Dreamers // Doers female-focused?

As a trailblazing woman, it can sometimes be harder to identify like-minded women. Partially, because in areas such as tech, there are simply less of us. In addition, per Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant: “Women help more but benefit less from it.”

Dreamers // Doers, photograph by Lloyd Johnston

I want to change that. I believe that we have a prime opportunity to level the playing field in tech (and beyond) by enabling women to tap into each other. And, at Dreamers // Doers, we couldn’t be bigger fans of men! We’ve just noticed over time, that women act differently if they are in the minority vs. majority, especially around topics that hit close to home. While our online community is mostly women-only, our offline events are always co-ed.

What made you decide to work full-time on Dreamers // Doers?

Never in my wildest dreams did I envision working full-time on this, but the trends are in our favor. In 2020, half of the U.S. population will self-identify as a freelancer — and women are taking up an increasingly bigger portion of the freelance pie. Also, women dominate every single social media platform, except LinkedIn. We believe there is a huge, growing, unmet need that technology can help solve, and we’re uniquely positioned to capitalize on this.

I’ll be honest, taking the leap was incredibly scary, there was a lot of self-doubt. But learning to become comfortable with uncertainty has been one of the most exciting learning lessons.

Dreamers // Doers counts nearly 3,000 incredible women part of the growing, thriving community. What kind of woman is an ideal fit for the community? How do you find and reach these women?

We curate for personality and potential over purely pedigree. For us, it’s all about cultural fit. We view Dreamers // Doers as a “secret weapon” in making dreams happen: The community enables members to do more, together, by allowing them to efficiently and effectively leverage each other as a resource. For this to work, it takes a certain woman with a strong burning desire to elevate other women just as much as herself.

So far, all of our growth has been organic, via word-of-mouth.

One of Dreamers // Doers guiding principles is authentic connecting, rather than merely networking. How can event-attending professionals best do this?

We use this approach because we subscribe to the belief that we help who we “know, like, and trust”. Furthermore, with trends in social media, it can be increasingly hard to catch real glimpses of each other’s true journeys which has a real impact on how we perceive our own journey.

At Dreamers // Doers offline events, we conduct mini introduction/sharing rounds which usually include discussing most recent struggles as well as wins (we rarely celebrate them enough!). It’s hard not to feel truly connected and eager to offer actionable help after going through this exercise.

This is also super applicable for any type of networking event. Ask interesting questions, allow others to open up, want to truly get to know the person across from you. Authenticity always wins.

Positivity and encouragement reign at Dreamers // Doers, which is incredibly refreshing and inspiring! What’s been the most difficult part of maintaining such an upbeat journey on darker days?

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Positivity breeds more positivity, i.e. less darker days. That being said, part of the positivity derives from sharing and speaking honestly about the low points. The more we can embrace all parts of our journey and openly talk about it, the less darkness there is.

Dreamers // Doers, photograph by Lloyd Johnston

What, if any, other communities serve as inspiration for you?

We learned a lot from the Sandbox post-mortem, in our mind, a must-read for anyone interested in online/offline community-building. Our two biggest takeaways: The need to put in place sustainable infrastructure and how important the creation of trust (we do this via vulnerability) is for a thriving, tight-knit community.

One reason that I created Dreamers // Doers was that none of the communities that currently exist fully covered all of our specific needs as entrepreneurial women. These needs include high impact, relevancy, positivity, and convenience.

What do you hope to learn in the next year?

I achieved the most important milestone this year, learning where some of my prior indecisiveness came from. Not surprisingly, it was (irrational) fear-related. I believe that we don’t often spend enough time on getting the mindset right, which is our operating system. Nothing works if it’s out of whack.

Now that I’ve checked that off the list, I’m looking forward to becoming a truly excellent manager/leader. This is a skill that cannot be honed enough, and especially as a founder, is essential if we want to scale ourselves, ensuring our vision has legs.

Where can we find you in NYC?

I’m one of the people who lives to work, especially since I’ve turned my passions into my full-time dream. I’m a huge fan of coworking and love mixing it up — you may find me working out of at least 3 different locations in a week. On weekends, I like working out of Soho House.

Last, How do you like your coffee?

I’m naturally high energy so I stick mostly to decaf, usually with almond or soy milk and stevia.

Photos by Gloria Cavallaro and Lloyd Johnson.

Top 20 places to find a remote job online — September 1, 2015

Top 20 places to find a remote job online

Remote work is no longer considered unusual, with millions of people across the world opting to work out of the office. In the United States alone, freelancers are said to make up 34% of the workforce — many of whom have chosen to work as entrepreneurs, consultants, and independent contractors. From freelancers to those in full-time remote roles, we are slowly breaking away from a traditional model to change the way we work.

Looking to ditch your commute or try something new? The following 20 sites and job boards cater to remote workers of almost every kind, with listings for creatives, professionals with technical talent, and everyone in between.

1. We Work Remotely
Put together by the bright folks who founded 
37Signals and authored Remote, this job board is a valuable collection of various types of remote work. From programming to customer happiness, look here for some of the finest offerings from legitimate tech companies.

2. Working Nomads
Perhaps the easiest job ‘search’ of them all, this clever resource will deliver freelance opportunities that meet desired criteria directly to an inbox daily or weekly, depending on the specified preference and desired workload.

3. CloudPeeps
CloudPeeps connects companies with talented community, content and marketing professionals (‘Peeps’) looking for freelance work. Peeps vetted by the platform can view opportunities that range from hourly compensation to fixed monthly pricing. As CloudPeeps does the legwork of finding clients and processing payments, all a freelancer needs to do is create a winning pitch to land a client.

4. Remotive
A weekly newsletter of tips and opportunities for the global, remote professional. A great resource for freelancers, digital nomads and those just beginning a remote career path.

5. Remote OK
Embracing the future of work, Remote OK is an aggregator that shares the best contract, part-time, and full-time work from a multitude of job boards. Job hunters can access freshly pulled opportunities by visiting the site or signing up to receive email notifications.

Apple, IBM and American Express are just a few of the employers that use to find talent. Sales professionals, consultants, and coders can all find work here, along with developers, analysts, and writers.

7. JobScribe
Focused on startups, JobScribe emails targeted work opportunities at a chosen frequency (daily, weekly, monthly). Most opportunities are for the technically trained, but marketing and design gigs sometimes make their way into the mix.

These job boards focus on the technology space and post new, remote roles often. Areas of interest range from customer service and design to quality assurance and development. Employers are listed in an alphabetical directory that currently spans an impressive 33 pages.

9. SkillBridge
Employers looking for the elite turn to SkillBridge, a marketplace that matches top-tier contract consultants to companies in need of specific, expert skill. Skillbridge is an ideal remote job search tool for those with advanced degrees from prominent universities or experience with well-known, innovative companies.

10. Fiverr
This fast-growing platform offers a huge variety of micro-jobs, allowing a remote worker to capitalize on an entire skill set. With prices starting at five dollars, it’s time to finally utilize all of those seemingly random talents, like photo editing, banner making, and ad design.

11. Upwork
Formerly known as oDesk, this platform prides itself on matching employers with freelancers who can work on jobs of any size, at any time, from anywhere. A breadth of categories showcases work opportunities for virtual assistants, writers, and consultants.

12. AngelList
AngelList is an outstanding resource for remote workers who want the startup life without the commute that so often comes with it. In addition to surfacing remote roles through a simple search (choose ‘job type’ and ‘remote OK’), the directory also offers helpful information about the company and compensation.

13. Remote Working
Mostly helpful for engineers and developers, Remote Working is a valuable resource for “people who don’t like to go to work.” Customer service, design, and operations roles are sometimes found in the mix.

14. The Muse
This valuable site not only features compelling content and helpful career reads – it’s also home to some of the best remote job opportunities, which often fly under the radar. Use search and filter to see ‘flexible/remote’ listings, each with a beautiful photo and information about the company and position.

15. Dribbble
Perhaps best known as a ‘show and tell for designers’ portfolio-style platform, Dribble has added immense value for community members by sharing design-specific job listings. To find them, hover over ‘jobs’ and choose the second option, ‘remote/anywhere’.

Millions of people use this site, which has been featured by TIME and The Wall Street Journal, to find their next project. Most impressive is the incredible range of categories, which employ freelancers who work on everything from robot design to logos.

17. FlexJobs
FlexJobs has developed a good reputation their screening process, which ensures that all job postings are legitimate. With a huge range of categories, there’s a multitude of part-time, full-time, and contract opportunities to check out and consider.

18. Scripted
Writers take note — Scripted is a trusted marketplace that provides clients with copywriting and editing services. A few samples and a writing test are required to join, and writers are granted the ability to view work opportunities after being formally admitted.

19. Stack Overflow
This well-known site is dedicated to providing top technical talent with the best out-of-office opportunities. Want to work as a remote developer? Don’t miss the 2,000+ listings showcased here.

20. Power to Fly
Serving up remote work opportunities for women who live anywhere, Power to Fly counts vetted professionals in more than 4,000 global cities. Clients have included Skillcrush and Hearst, among others.

Know of another great resource for finding remote work? Leave us a note in the comments!

About our writer // Krista Gray is the director of community operations at The Fetch. She loves travel, words, photos and making people smile. Follow her on Twitter, @thekristagray.


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