Christof Wallner @ Mobile World Congress 2019
Unbelievable. Almost 9 years ago, I started my first tech online magazine, and here we are again – my first post on trustedd.com. My name is Christof Wallner. I am 31 years old, living my passion, and I am here to help others. So, what am I doing? And how did I end up with a plan to build a new platform where we foster the growth of knowledge, business development, and innovation?
Find goals and fight for them
When I got my first phone (Nokia 3210 <3), I found my passion for tech. When I was a teenager, I started saving all my pocket change so that I could spend it on the latest phones. Seeing how technology has evolved over the years has been fascinating.
When I was a young adult, my life changed dramatically due to serious health problems and significant changes in my social environment. My life was a mess, and I had to decide what I wanted. I asked myself: "What do I really want in my life?"
Back then, the answer in one word was "freedom." I wanted to travel around the world, meet different people, see different cultures, work from anywhere, and make good money to sustain myself.
To get out of my situation, I needed action. I started to research how I could get this freedom. I quickly realized that an online business was probably my only realistic chance of making this happen.
Back then, I was working at a provider shop selling phones. I didn't study, and I believed that university degrees or other titles did not determine success. These things wouldn't even guarantee a job.
However, back in 2009, beyond following my favorite tech blogs online, I didn't know much about online businesses. What could I do? I had to educate myself. I read various books, and they taught me the most important lesson I've ever learned: Think big and set goals.
After reading these books, I started to set some goals. Back then, they were unreachable. However, most of them eventually became a reality. I started working only part-time so that I could spend more time on my first online project – a marketplace for used excavation machines. Yes, you read that right – excavation machines. My father sold them, and during the summer holidays when I was a kid, I went with him to visit his clients. It was great. I mean, what kid doesn't dream about driving an excavation machine?
After spending almost all my money on the development of the platform, I fell victim to a scam SEO agency. It became clear – this project would fail. So, what do you do? Don't give up. I knew that I had to find something else and that I had to do this fast. I also recognized that I had to find something about which I was passionate.
Thanks to a former famous tech blogger, I realized that I could fulfill my dreams by getting into online publishing. He was transparently publishing an annual revenue report of his blog, and when I read it, it hit me. He was living my dream. He was traveling around the world to the biggest tech shows, reviewing the latest tech before anyone could even buy it, and also making good money.
In the week between Christmas and New Year 2010, I set up my new website without knowing much about how I should start. I just knew that I had to find my niche. Back then, there was only the first iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. I saw that this device category could become a much bigger market. Therefore, I wanted to specialize in the tablet niche.
It was a crazy decision to start this site because a) I've always been bad at writing and b) I wanted to make video reviews to give my followers a better experience and help them make better buying decisions. There was only one problem. I'm from Austria, and I had a quite strong Austrian accent – so strong that even Germans don't understand me, although it's the same language. Imagine an accent similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger's and then imagine him doing a video review of a tablet. Well, people will find it sooner or later, so here's the link to my first video. Watch it if you want to have a quick laugh ;-)
But I had a goal. When I published my first article, it was January – the time when, in Las Vegas, one of the largest tech shows takes place. I wrote posts about the latest innovations announced at this show, and while I was writing, I said to myself, "Next year, I'll be in Vegas at this show." I had never traveled that far, and without money, it seemed unrealistic. But thanks to my passion and a lot of hard work, I made it. I even found a sponsor who came up for the costs.
Before this, some of my friends thought that I was crazy for spending so much time on this project. I wasn't making much money, but I knew why I was doing it. After the first year, I could build an amazing small team of freelancers. Some of them were competitors in the beginning, but I always wanted to work with them instead of against them, and it turned out great. In 2015, I sold the site to one of the biggest out-of-home and online advertisers in Germany.
A new area
While the core-team of freelancers and I joined the new corporate, I was moving from a small village in Austria to Berlin. I was a bit scared. In years past, I had traveled around the world to various events and conventions and was my boss. Now I was giving up my freedom, and I was not sure what to expect. However, I was confident that it was the right decision.
At the new corporate, I was tasked with building a new area in one of the biggest German tech magazines. Working at this big corporate was quite a different experience. Still, it was also exciting because I could work with old friends and colleagues in the industry who had joined the corporate at the same time. After a few months, I had the opportunity to not only manage a small part of this magazine but become responsible for the whole magazine. However, I needed to learn a lot of things which I had never done before. Again, I was putting in all my effort to take advantage of every opportunity I got. Thanks to the great support of the CEOs and Mentor and the help from my other colleagues, I was able to make it happen. I became responsible for one of the biggest tech magazines in Germany. Altogether, I spent almost two years at this corporate. I am very thankful for the time and especially for the people from whom I learned so much and for the team with which I worked.
However, the time was right for me to move on to something else. In 2017, I quit my job. I wanted to travel again, get new impressions, and start something entirely new.
The beginning of a roller coaster
After my last day at the corporate, I immediately traveled to different areas of the world. I finally had time to read about new topics that interested me. Back then, the hype surrounding cryptocurrencies and ICOs was getting traction in the media. I was curious about Bitcoin and Co. I wanted to invest when I first heard about it in 2013, but I never did. I asked myself: "What is behind all this, that has made it still a "thing" a few years later?"
The following year was like a personal roller coaster. I was achieving almost every goal I set for myself and living the life I'd always wanted, but this was exciting for only a while. Eventually, I started to feel a bit lost and without purpose. The only thing I was chasing was money, although I know money doesn't make happy. That was how I felt: I had no plan for what was next, similar to where I'd been almost 10 years ago.
Finding the new WHY
Photo by Ian Schneider
One day, I was visiting one of my best friends in Seattle. We were sitting in his living room and talking with his mother about money. She asked me what my number was – in other words, what was my financial goal? I can't remember what my answer was, but it was high. Then she asked me, "What do you want to do with all this money?"
It hit me! The only answer I had: With that money, I could help others who were in the same situation that I was. I wanted them to have an easier time. I wanted to support them with my experiences and to help them kick start and make their dreams a reality. It was a wake-up call!
A few months later, I started working on a new project, which resulted in what you know today as trustedd. Things didn't get easier; in fact, they became more difficult. However, as in 2011, I have a WHY, and I fight for it. Through my experiences and what I have learned, I can make this WHY a reality at the largest possible scale.
Last but not least, a big thank you to all my friends, former colleagues, partners, superiors, and mentors who helped me arrive at where I am now.