Elias Vides t-shirt and pants are black and simple, he wears sneakers from an unknown brand. His watch is also inconspicuous, almost seems to be out of time. No sign that he has a seven-figure fortune.
Only the ring on his right hand reveals that he is not an ordinary 23-year-old. Because, as Vides explains later, the data records his daily calorie intake, his physical activity and his sleep. In an associated app, Vides can see how long it took him to fall asleep and how high his heart rate was at night. Does that stress him out? “No, not at all,” he says. It makes bad decisions tangible.
Vides welcomes NewsABC.net in his office in the middle of Berlin. He shares a floor with a holding company and a basketball club. Except for the sign on the bell at the entrance, there is not much to suggest that a company called Moonbase is located here: “We’re going to change it a little bit here,” he says with shining eyes. It is the first day that the young entrepreneur spends in the office with a view of the Memorial Church.
The entrepreneurial career started in a shed
Vides, the son of a Colombian and an Austrian, has been doing business since he was 14 years old. He has founded three companies so far – four if you include a GmbH with which he holds shares in other companies. He dropped out of school at 17 – he was never a good student, he says – at that time earned his first million, went through personal bankruptcy and then rose to become a media consultant for Amazon, Mercedes AMG, Bentley and Depot. He claims to be a pioneer in influencer marketing and is a prime example of how the most important deals are made through contacts.
The first business was not supposed to be one at all: Vides expanded airsoft weapons – in the shed of a neighbor, together with his son. Proud of the result, they uploaded a picture of their work to Facebook and soon received their first orders.
After a year, an employee from Stockholm University wrote. He made plans for them to improve the quality of the softairs. He would later send it to a manufacturer in Japan who would send the finished product back to Austria. It was a business that was optimized and expanded according to the economic standards of the international division of labor – more or less by chance. This is how the first company Vides Arms came into being.
“I thought business life was starting now”
Vides and his neighbor had to stop it when softairs in Austria were no longer classified as toys but as weapons in a lower category. But Vides stuck to entrepreneurship. Only a few years later, an acquaintance asked him to build the website for a Swiss manufacturer of nutritional supplements – after all, he had already done that for the distribution of Vides Armes. The then 16-year-old agreed to a steep career with a hard impact.
“I thought business life was starting now,” says Vides with a laugh. He and a fitness youtuber founded a supplement shop, selling nutritional supplements to build muscle.
From that point on, everything went very quickly, he says: “We did influencer marketing when the word influencer didn’t even exist. Karl Ess, for example, has already earned a lot of money from his reach on YouTube, sometimes up to the million mark and we worked together. “Soon they had 3,000 products in their range. The company grew to become the second largest dealer in Switzerland, generating sales of millions. Vides dropped out of school. He was 17 at the time.
Growing pains and scandals: Vides went bankrupt at 19
But his fall was as quick as his ascent. “Today I would say that leasing a fleet of six cars was pure stupidity – a Lamborghini, a Mercedes G-Class, an S-Class, an SLK, a C-Class and an Aston Martin DB9. We just thought: this is the life of an entrepreneur. Sure, somehow it was also about business, but over time it was mostly about cars, luxury watches, expensive New Year’s Eve parties. And if you don’t pull the emergency brake at some point, it will cause problems. “
The companies could not keep up with the growth rate. “We were always good at marketing, but bad at operational business. Our logistics manager was a former official who I met at the gym. It had to show seven-digit volumes and of course didn’t know how to do it. ”
This inexperience was doomed to Vides and his colleagues. When several scandals broke out over the cooperating influencers, sales fell by 60 to 70 percent, he says. The fixed costs were too high. The bank became suspicious and demanded 250,000 euros of a current account credit with a period of 14 days – and Vides had to pay for it alone. He hadn’t paid himself any wages in months.
“I was literally at the end”
A lawyer was able to reduce the claim to just over 100,000 euros. But this sum was also too high. Although Vides was never legally insolvent – the bank was too interested in repayment, he says – it was factual.
Vides was 19 years old, in debt, a high school dropout. “I was literally about to end,” he says. He slept poorly, had a racing heart, had nosebleeds; was always looking for a solution. “I had to somehow find a way to make a lot of money very quickly.” He got used to polyphase sleep: two hours of waking, two hours of sleep. He no longer made a distinction between day and night.
It was friends from Innsbruck who helped out of this misery. Vides did what he was doing and built marketing campaigns for their supplement companies.
He was never really interested in supplements, it just always happened. But it’s not so much about the product itself, it’s about marketing. He was the first to upload videos to social media; produced so that they would go viral. He soon returned to the life he once lost – only this time he was shooting as a content director on Mykonos influencer videos. “I liked that better than spending the whole day in the office,” he says.
Vides was able to pay his debts on time.
Vides is reminiscent of the young Lars Windhorst
Today he doesn’t want to have anything to do with the supplement scene anymore. But when he entered into a partnership with Daimler, a new era began. Only then did he realize that “you can really make money with it”. A colleague had established contact with an employee and presented the videos to him. With the work for the group, the marketing agency was created, which was then called Moon Idea and is now called Moonbase. Moonbase takes care to create the widest possible reach on social media and, if necessary, to acquire new customers. The motto is: “Social First”.
Vide’s story is reminiscent of that of young Lars Windhorst, who programmed software in his home garage in 1993 at the age of 16 and soon had a double-digit million sum with his company Windhorst Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd. deserved. Celebrated as “German Wunderkind” by ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Windhorst moved his company’s headquarters to Hong Kong at the age of 18 and later founded a second company that focused on new economy and dotcom businesses.
After the dotcom bubble burst in the 2000s, its impact was as hard as that of Vides. He also went through private bankruptcy, but got up again: Windhorst founded an investment company and its German company Vatas Holding GmbH. Both threatened to go bankrupt, but Windhorst restructured and kept them alive. Today he owns almost half of the Hertha BSC Berlin football club – with a value of 250 million euros. Most recently, he invested another 150 million euros in the club.
“If you want to speak to us, you can book a workshop”
Vides has nothing to do with football today – but he also holds shares. With Vides Holding GmbH, which he founded last December, he is invested in two companies.
But he says of himself that he was mistaken in the Berlin startup scene for the new Tarek Müller, one of the founders of About You. This is considered the driving force in e-commerce and in the digital transformation of the mail order company. This comparison was decisive for his reputation, he says – and has led to contracts with large companies such as Amazon.
Vides lived in a Berlin hotel room for six months, so rushed to move to the capital, which is also the German startup capital. But unlike other young companies, Moonbase doesn’t have classic pitches. “If you want to talk to us, you can book a workshop,” he says.
“It costs 10,000 euros a day, and that’s our type of pitch. We build a plan for the goals they want to achieve in a given time frame and they tell us if they like it. ”Vides and 14 employees manage ten million euros a year.
“I used to like working long hours – today I’ve completely changed my mindset”
“I slept eight hours tonight, 90 percent of which were efficient. I didn’t move much, my average sleep was an hour 46 minutes, deep sleep an hour 48 minutes, it took me 41 minutes to fall asleep – that’s a bit long, it should take me 20 minutes – and the timing was also not good because I was probably going to sleep too late, ”Vides reads from the data in the app:“ My sleep is essential for my daily performance. ”
The word self-optimization does not come up. But when he talks about his personal development, it is always audible. “We used to work 15 hours a day, which we thought was awesome,” he says. “I slept in the camp, was a workaholic. But that doesn’t mean that it was always productive. Today my mindset has changed completely. “
Vides says that he has become a different person. He wouldn’t go into polyphase sleep today, and he wouldn’t rent expensive cars either. “If that’s really your passion, do it. But I’m just not interested in cars, ”he says.
If Vides can say that he made stupid decisions a year ago, it would be a success: because that means that he has grown enough. “Many make the mistake of only wanting to grow in economic skills. But personal development falls by the wayside. ”
Today he works a maximum of ten hours a day, sometimes only four or five. “It’s only beneficial to me,” he says. “But who knows how I think about it in a year.”