Xolo, formerly known as LeapIN, provides a supporting platform to millions of freelancers, contractors and digital nomads around the world to manage their business hassle-free, location-independent and fully online. We spoke to Xolo CEO Allan Martinson on how the company empowers independent work while collaborating with the Estonian e-residency programme as a trusted partner.
In a time when the way we work has already changed considerably and there is growing need to work location-independently and fully remotely, a digital support network is necessary for more and more people around the world. Xolo not only exemplifies digitalisation, but also legal innovation, relying on the well-functioning Estonian e-governance ecosystem.
How do you see the company changing after taking over as CEO, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
First of all, Xolo had a great team and lots of momentum already when I joined in October 2018 — otherwise, I would not have done this :-). Since then, we have had some remarkable achievements that built on top of the earlier success. We raised €6M in new capital, launched our innovative “virtual company” product, grew headcount two times, brought in several key executives, and rebranded from LeapIN to Xolo. While doing this, however, we did not change the underlying company culture of caring about each other and our customers.
What do you view as the 3 most valuable accomplishments of Xolo?
First, becoming the absolute leader in serving the Estonian e-residency ecosystem — we help about 35% of all e-resident companies.
Second, building a community of more than 30,000 solopreneurs and freelancers and getting rave reviews from them for our customer service, platform and professionalism. And third, innovating not only through developing new technologies but also through legal innovation — there are not so many companies doing that actually.
What is Xolo’s competitive advantage?
We are the only company that provides solopreneurs, freelancers and digital nomads globally with everything they need: a legal entity, a banking service, a self-service web software for managing the business, and full accounting and government reporting service on the background. If you are a modern, international solopreneur, you would not need anything else.
There is no other company that provides such a fully integrated service.
How do you work with e-residency? And where would you run your business if Estonia didn’t offer digital services?
E-residency for us is more than just a partner. It is absolutely essential for the majority of our business, and, in turn, we are a crucial part of the e-residency ecosystem. Many people think e-residency is only about digital identity provided by the Estonian government. Actually, it is much more. It is a fully digital e-government platform; it is the policy that allows the private companies easy-to-use customer interfaces to the government services; it is a simple tax system and transparent business environment.
Of course, we have been looking for another such country like the humankind is looking for “the Second Earth”. Interesting things are happening in the UK, Singapore, Dubai, and in some other places. But not a single other country has the same set of conditions as we have in Estonia.
What do you think will be the next technology to disrupt the way we work and do business?
Interestingly, I do not think it’s the new technology that we are missing. Slow-moving institutions date back decades or even centuries, while the modern workplace has evolved thanks to technology.
The most important thing right now is to disrupt the governments, and legal and tax systems.
What we need is governments to start thinking about themselves as platforms that are providing services. We need the outdated tax codes to be simplified, company formations to become faster, etc. For example, it may take many weeks or even months to get a business up and going in many Western European countries; the tax code can easily be tens of thousands of pages long, and so on.
What books are on your nightstand?
I am an avid e-book reader, so there is just one device with hundreds of books downloaded. Usually, I have one sci-fi, one historical and one business book in progress at any time.