People need a meaningful job to be happy with their lives. They need to feel important, that they have a purpose with their life. For the last years, I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions, mostly due to my work situation. In 2015 I started a new entrepreneurial venture called “Tailored Message”. It was a news app for youth that I launched in April 2016 in Norway with a small team. I spent more than $100 000 on developing the app, and $15 000 on marketing of the app. We received a lot of attention in Norwegian newspapers for becoming the 3rd most downloaded app in Norway within the first month. After two weeks we had more than 20 000 users. I was high on adrenaline, and we thought we were going to “conquer the world” with our news app.
Since I’ve started other ventures before, I had a quite short deadline for the venture. I said that within 6 months we would need to have a media partnership with one of the big media companies in Norway (within July 2016). If we didn’t get any media partner by that time, I would shut the venture down.
In June 2016 we received a positive confirmation of a media partnership with “Nettavisen.no”, one of the major media houses in Norway. They were perfect since they control blogg.no which is the largest blog platform in Norway with a lot of young bloggers. The deal was set, and I decided to expand the deadline for the venture with 6 more months. The new goal was to ensure a positive cash flow within December 2016.
I went out to investors, trying to get more funding of the venture. Since we had a media deal, it was quite easy to find investors. I raised approx. 200 000 USD and we started with our first hire. We moved into “Nettavisen” and I believed that we were able to make this a success.
Then, the problems began to appear. The media deal that we made with Nettavisen, was not being properly followed. They began to delay implementation of what was agreed. Since we were a startup, time is money, especially when you have a small company. We had multiple meetings with Nettavisen and came up with other solutions with new deadlines. Unfortunately for me, we were dealing with a fucking bully in Nettavisen that was only thinking of himself and that couldn’t care less of our startup. He consistently delayed implementation of what was agreed.
My only office was at that time at Nettavisen, and during the fall of 2016, I had to take drastic choices. I fired our only full time employee to cut costs, because we didn’t have enough traffic to ensure a positive cash flow from advertisers. I did hope I was going to turn it around, but Nettavisen did nothing to fulfill their part of the deal. I became quite depressed, especially being around the people at Nettavisen.
During that time, my wife became pregnant. I started to become more worried about our financial future, since I had put so much energy and money into Tailored Message. Of course, I still had CryptoCoinsNews running, and some other small ventures that were doing just fine, but it takes its toll to work so hard for something that doesn’t turn out the way you want it.
Fortunately, I was at a conference with the owner of Wilhelmsen.com that said they were looking for people to work on digital projects for the company. I met the CFO afterward on a meeting, and he made me aware of some open positions in the company. It was my mom that found the job listing on the day of the deadline for the job as a “Digital Trainee” at Wilhelmsen. I’ve never been a full time employee anywhere, and I didn’t think I was going to be one either. But this job spoke to me, and in a time where I was quite “down”, it seemed like a match made in heaven. So I applied just before the deadline in November 2016. That job opportunity kept me up during a difficult time.
In December 2016 I decided to shut Tailored Message down. There’s no need to continue to work on a project that is going to fail. Nettavisen had broken most of the agreement that we made, and I was talking to some of my lawyers about what we could do about it. Unfortunately, in Norway, it’s very expensive to run a legal case. My lawyers told me that we could have a quite strong case, but just the legal process would cost up to $25 000. The investors in Tailored Message did not want to pursue a legal case since they didn’t want to risk losing more money. So, in December 2016 I moved out of Nettavisen’s offices and started the process to close the venture.
It was hard to acknowledge that Tailored Message had failed. I’ve been through that process before with my first major venture called “MyGoodAct” (a crowdfunding platform for social causes I started in 2009 that raised more than 1.5 million USD to different social causes). But with Tailored Message I had investors relying on me, and that was a new aspect I hadn’t experienced before. It was incredibly hard to let them know that this just didn’t work out the way we wanted it. Probably one of the toughest moments of my life.
Things were quite dark at a moment, I had lost a lot of money, almost two years of my life, and I had disappointed people that relied on me. I had also lost money on trading CFDs (stupid me, tried to gain the money I lost, human psychology right). Murphy’s law hit me.
In late December 2016, I got a call. “You got the job as a Digital Trainee at Wilhelmsen”. Suddenly, I could start focusing on something else. I felt that I was “saved by the bell”. I promised to myself that I should start over, forget what was done, but still learn from the experience. I wanted to create a better me.
If you are an entrepreneur, remember what I learned:
Never ever rely on a third party (like Nettavisen). It’s great with partnerships, but that shouldn’t be a show stopper if they do not fulfill their end of the deal.
I managed to reset my thoughts. I started at Wilhelmsen in January 2017 with three other amazing digital trainees. It was a pleasant experience to become a full time employee. It was amazing to be in a more professional setting with stricter rules and forms. I’m working on some quite awesome projects for Wilhelmsen, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been before. Even though I’m earning a lot less than I did while being an entrepreneur (on the top of my game).
As most of you don’t know, I bought Hacked.com in 2015. I spent 50 000 USD on it. I thought it would be quite easy to start a new venture with a domain like Hacked.com. We started writing a lot of tech news, and one day we had our news article on the frontpage of Reddit.com with more than 1 million views in a few days. But we did not manage to make any money on hacked.com, and I spent approx. 50 000 USD more on trying to build a news site. During 2016 I put hacked.com on hold. And I even put it up for sale during January 2017, since I had almost 0 USD in my savings account due to the mistakes I made in 2016. But after I started working at Wilhelmsen, I got an idea of making Hacked.com into what you see today. A place where people can get real advice and help in planning for their own financial freedom.
People that say money isn’t important is delusional. People living on a bare minimum isn’t happy with their lives. They are stressed, they work too much, they are homeless, they use drugs or alcohol to shut off their own emotions. I wouldn’t wish that for even my worst enemy. Money is critical up to a certain point; I call it the financial freedom ceiling. If you get above your own financial freedom ceiling, you won’t stay up at night wondering if you can pay the next utility bill. I believe we all can reach our own financial freedom ceiling, and that’s my primary goal with hacked.com. To help people get above a certain level, in order to fulfill their own lives.
Even if I reach my financial freedom ceiling, I still would want to work to feel “important” to my society. I want to make a positive impact on the world, Isn’t that what we all want? But you can’t fulfill your life if you are constantly chasing more money. That must be taken care of first. And with financial freedom, you can choose what you want to spend the rest of your life on.