[Interview] Fred Perrotta, Co-Founder of Tortuga Backpacks

Every week, we share the story of an inspiring Remote Worker. Today, we're are super excited to share Fred's story.

1.- What is your name, role, and what does your company do?

I'm Fred Perrotta, the co-founder and CEO of Tortuga Backpacks. We help people live on their own terms by making gear for urban travel.

2.- What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote team?

Working remotely allows our team to live and work where, when, and how we choose. With this freedom, everyone on our team can figure out how they like to work and make the best use of their time.

As a leader, I appreciate that remote work is results driven. Without an office, we can only evaluate each other based on our results. No one is killing time pretending to work. No one is measuring "ass in seat" time. No one gets credit for being at work for long hours if they aren't getting results. On a remote team, you can only measure what matters.

3.- What traits do you look for in candidates for a remote job?

We look for driven, self-starters with high standards. If you are not motivated, you won't work well on a remote team. Ditto if you need external pressures to do a good job. Previous experience as an entrepreneur, freelancer, or remote worker is a plus.

Culturally, we look for people who value the freedom to set the terms of their life and work. We hire people who believe what we believe about the future of work.


4.- Why is your company working remotely?

We started working remotely out of necessity as my co-founder and I lived in different cities. In the early days, we couldn't hire anyone, so we relied on freelancers who were always in different cities, if not countries. By the time that we were ready to hire, we had already become acclimated to remote work and saw how valuable it could be.

From there, we began to view remote work as both a better way of working and a great perk for a team of travel lovers. As we've grown our team the past few years, we've found that people wanted to join us because of our commitment a flexible, remote work environment.

I wrote an entire post on the topic, including input from teammates, on Medium.

5.- What is your hiring process for remote workers?

We simulate our remote work environment as much as possible in the hiring process. Our job applications require written responses to questions because we need teammates who can communicate well in writing. We interview via Skype because that's how we communicate in meetings.

Interviews are divided into phone screens (where we cast a wider net and screen out people faster), cultural fit interviews, and skill-based interviews.

6.- What’s the best piece of advice you can share with an applicant?

Apply with your audience in mind. Think about what they want in a teammate, not what you want in a job. Then read my post (rant) on how to get an interview.

7.- Do your remote team members meet in person?

Yes, we are currently holding two team-wide retreats per year. Some team members also travel for work to conferences, factories, etc.


8.- How do you cultivate company’s culture in a remote work environment?

Building a strong culture is hard. Meeting in person on retreats is helpful. We can more easily maintain relations online than build them online.

Frequent communication is important. We use Slack for work talk and as our virtual water cooler where we share music and articles and just talk freely. Additionally, we do individual updates weekly and team updates monthly to keep everyone updated on what their teammates are working on.

9.- What are your favorite tools for remote team communication?

Asana, Slack, and Facebook Messenger (for arriving and during retreats)

10.- Why did you decide to start working remotely?

My last real job was working at Google. At the time, Google was ranked the #1 place to work. But I hated it. Despite the perks and smart coworkers, I was dragging myself into work every day and couldn't wait to leave. This experience taught me that an office (and a real job) were not for me.


Thanks Fred! You can find Fred on Twitter over here :)


Would like to start a conversation about sharing your story? Let us know over here- thanks :)


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