Daring visions and drastic lifehacking from an under-30 visionary
Time is more precious than money. It could sound like the opening line taken from the back cover of a cheap self-help booklet, but there is certainly some truth in it. A mantra that may have crossed the mind of tech maverick Cédric Waldburger when he decided to leave his apartment in Switzerland to spend as much time as possible with his companies. He sacrificed space – its stability, certainty and comfort – in search of the Holy Grail of the information age – that is to say, time –. He has lived out of a bag since.
Cédric takes around 100 flights per year, spending an average of no more than 4 days in each location. A true nomad born from the wonders of technology and success. His passion for startups led him to found his first company at 14 and inspired him to build various tech businesses over the following years. He then invested in other ten and currently works on a productivity startup, a computer vision company and a crypto currency. Pretty impressive, right?
We talk to him about his bold lifestyle, adventurous dreams and brave visions.
Let’s start this brief interview with an ice-breaker… Daydreamer or night-thinker?
Am I a Daydreamer or a night-thinker? I think I am not a daydreamer because usually my schedule is pretty full and I always try to be conscious with my time and make the most out of it during the day. I´m not sure if I´m a night-thinker either cause I use to go to bed pretty early, I like to wake up early. But definitely, if I have to pick between the two of them I would say I am a night-thinker because I enjoy being in a relaxed setup, and contemplating rious questions and ideas and writing and chatting about them.
One would say that when you set yourself a goal, you don’t take ‘no’ for an answer… Has it always been like this? Is there a project that you wanted to pursue but you ended up abandoning?
Whether I would ever take ‘no’ for an answer or abandon a project that I set my head to? I think yes, that does happen. I also believe it is important to check in with yourself and see if you are too far to realize that maybe what you are building is not wanted by enough people.
So we are currently working on a project where we are going through this pivoting. We are realizing that what we are building is not solving a problem that is big enough. We assumed that more people had this issue and realized through interviews –building our prototype and testing it to people– that not enough had it. And second, also that even some had the problem our solution was not a good fit for all of them or maybe not most of them. Again, we learned this through interviews.
And I think there’s nothing wrong with that processing, saying ‘no’ or pivoting. I feel there's nothing more frustrating than putting all your energy and time into something that other people don´t get value out of in the end so I’d rather abandon an idea or pivot early in the process and build something that benefits more people.
Which is the weirdest scenario where you have slept? Do you have a ‘happy place’ to dream the impossible?
Spontaneously what comes to mind is a place in Africa where I went on a startup bus for a two-week tour and I had not done much research in advance. It started in Harare in Zimbabwe. I got there and I was immediately off to a bad start. I didn’t have any local currency or US dollars with me so I couldn’t buy the visa to get into the country so I was kind of stuck between the plane and the immigration desk. Luckily I found someone who would lend me some money.
Made it into the country, I realized there’s no cell signal for any of my SIM cards and so I was basically stuck with no contact to anyone that I knew, but luckily I had an address so I got a cab and got to that address. It was advertised as a nice resort, and it was a nice resort but we were basically sleeping on the floor and there were cockroaches and all kinds of creatures so that was a pretty short night. Of course it was also no warm water and that was one of the experiences that inspired me to always take cold showers and never shower warm again. Even though I only made that decision maybe a year or two afterwards, I’m always reminded of this place in Harare where in the end, life was very possible and okay but it was just missing some of the humanities that we are so used to here in Switzerland.
Second question was whether I had a happy place to dream the impossible. I think what always inspires me is a constant change and a dynamic in my life, so seeing a lot of different places and cultures, constantly interacting with new people, being challenged, having to reinvent what we´re building and showing it to new people all the time... I think that’s what really inspires me and helps me progress in my thoughts. If you are asking about a place where I dream for myself or where I have like a quiet time to think about stuff I would say that´s probably very often the case in airplanes where I´m completely disconnected. I don’t have wifi or any cell signal and I often use that time to listen to podcasts or just be and think and maybe write and reflect on what I do.
But, in general, I try to create situations independent from where I am and so that I have a process of ritual to go deep and expand my mind without having to be in a certain specific place.
Your minimalist lifestyle is very impressive. If you had to choose just one object you couldn’t live without, what would it be?
So the 64 things that I still own they include everything including my pants, t-shirts, shirts, and so on. So if you’re asking me what´s the one thing I can´t live without I´ll probably say a pair of pants or like a set of clothing or shoes because life gets really uncomfortable if you don’t have these. But if, let’s say, we assume that these necessities are given, I would probably say either my laptop or my phone are quite important to me because they allow me to stay in touch with my friends, family, loved ones and also my businesses and projects wherever I am in the world. They are kind of a gateway to talk to just about anyone I wanna get in touch with.
If you raise your eyes from the screen, what do you see? We know you are a busy man…
So if I raise my eyes above the screen right now, I am in a city called Ägeri which is close to Zug. Zug is the Crypto valley of Switzerland where a lot of the cryptic companies are set up, and I am spending my day here today. I´m currently sitting at my girlfriend´s place in Ägeri and if I look out the window I see typical Swiss setups, not too exciting. There´s some grass outside and the weather is not too great but also not too terrible today.