Cédric Waldburger is a 29-year-old entrepreneur from Switzerland. He spent the last year living out of his carry-on bag.
This digital nomad juggles his time as either the CEO or CTO between three startups situated in two different continents.
But before all this, Cédric was just a computer geek from Zurich. So how did he become a serial plane hopper?
How a side project became Cédric’s life passion
Ever since he was 7 years old, Cédric has been interested with computers. At that age, he had already taught himself basic coding and programming. Slowly, he progressed into web development and even managed to build a customer relationship management software for a high school project.
At the age of 14, he “accidentally” started a web development and advertising agency with his boy scouts leader. They started out with a simple weekend project of designing a website for their own boy scouts unit. His partner took care of the design work, while Cédric handled the web development side of things.
The knowledge of their development skills quickly spread with family and friends, who soon began asking for help in making websites and business cards, and even offering to pay. The requests started piling up, and they especially took off after Cédric decided to integrate photography into their work: “We quickly realized that photography was a key element to creating great products. Brochures, websites, or banners – they all needed the right photographic material to shine.”
When, after a few years, they landed a client who was competing in a local pageant, demand for their creative services shot up in the local community. That’s when Cédric realized it was time to turn this opportunity into a real company. It was one of his proudest moments, and ever since then, he wanted to keep chasing that adrenaline rush.
How volunteering in events can lead you to a new passion
A lot of things were happening for Cédric – he had founded his first company, called Mediasign, and he was to enroll in university. As he had always been curious about computers, he took up a major in engineering. He spent his years in university functioning on very little sleep, as he was juggling work and studies at the same time: “I studied during the day, usually from 8 AM to 6 PM, and then in the evening, I would work at Mediasign’s office up to 3 AM.”
As a working student, he was always thinking of ways to expand his network. He found that the best way to do so was by participating in events: “I started volunteering at conferences to meet interesting people. It’s an easy way to get in because every high profile event needs volunteers.”
One of the events he volunteered in was Techcrunch’s Disrupt Berlin – one of the biggest startup conferences in the world where individual ticket prices can go as high up as $1,500 a piece. The event was his real introduction to the startup community. He met techpreneurs and startup geeks and gained insights into the trends of the startup world. He also found out many startups started out exactly how Mediasign did – and Cédric got hooked: “I got really passionate about finding out how to build a startup; the concept of how to go from an idea to something that grows into a million – either in revenue, products shipped, or user subscriptions.”
After graduating, Cédric moved to New York to work at ASmallWorld, a New-York based social network startup. He was hired as their software engineer and technical consultant. Having spent a lot of time in New York, Cédric made a lot of new connections in its big tech scene – especially since he was involved in a social networking startup in the Big Apple. This led to another (now defunct) social networking startup called Social Contracts, where Cedric was a co-founder and developer.
As most of his work could be done virtually, Cédric came back to Zurich and enrolled in a Master’s degree. It was like his previous university life again – but this time, his offices were between two continents. He kept this up until he graduated. What’s amazing is that Cédric didn’t even have to take a year off from studies or repeat any subjects!
How diversifying can be a strategy for success
After graduating, Cédric committed his time fully towards the startups he was involved in New York, Zurich, and Berlin. Cédric had participated in around 9 startups and grew a reputable name in Zurich’s tech scene. He was then approached by startups to become their investor. He pooled the investment with a business partner and began their own venture capital firm, Tenderloin Ventures.
This allowed Cédric to become involved in even more startups: “I felt really fortunate because it allowed me to learn different things from each company while being active in several companies at once.”
His experiences taught him the importance of having the right people in a company: “In the end it’s all about ‘who’ you do something with and not even that much about ‘what’ you do. I’ve learnt the hard way that without the right team, the product and market can be amazing but the company still won’t succeed. That lesson has stuck, and the team and people are always the first and most important thing when it comes to starting a new project.”
Nowadays, Cédric balances his time between mentoring in Mediasign, Tenderloin Ventures, and as of April this year, acting as the CEO of SendTask – a startup he founded, which provides an in-company to-do list for small companies and startups with the functionality to send to-do items to people within and outside the company by e-mail. On top of that, he is also a board member at DFINITY, a cryptocurrency network startup based in Palo Alto and Zurich, and Glimpse, an F&B performance insights startup based in Miami.
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How being nomadic keeps Cédric connected
It’s hard to keep up with Cédric’s life because he flies to a different city every 4 days. He has been completely nomadic for the whole of 2017 and keeps a maximum of 64 items in his travel bag.
Cédric has been to more than 60 different countries, and he finds that it has been a liberating experience. It has given him the freedom and flexibility to spend his time on things he find most important, like his projects and valuable connections around the world: “I organize my life around being able to spend the most of my time with those companies, and it gives me the flexibility to go back to places that I want to reconnect with people.”
And that’s not something he wants to give up just yet.
Interested in Following Cédric’s Footsteps?
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P.S. Cédric’s university years allowed him to volunteer at cool tech events and learn more about the backend side of startups. How has your university years helped shape your digital nomad path? 🙂