Mediasign was my first foray into the entrepreneurial adventure. I was 14 years old and Fabian was 18 when he asked me to help with the new website for our local boy scouts group. We spent a few weekends working on it and other projects soon followed. This was 2002 and everyone needed a website, business cards, and related products.
We started to meet every weekend and sometimes during the week to work together. We started to work for friends, family and soon friends of friends. What drove us was that it was fun to work together. At that point, we didn’t spend a single thought on what this was – certainly, it wasn’t a company. It was just two friends working on projects together, learning and creating.
About a year after, we started to get traction and a somewhat regular workload. I was in high school and Fabian had just finished his education as a graphic designer. By now, we had taken over all work on my school’s website and some other regular clients.
About 1,5 years in, we started to think about Mediasign in a more serious way. Still, it took us another couple years to make it an actual company. Right after turning 18, I joined the military for a year. Fabian left his job as a graphic designer to pursue another passion and worked as a radio host for a local station.
That summer, one of his co-workers at the station – Fabienne – happened to be in the Miss Switzerland beauty pageant finals. I had picked up an interest in photography from my physics teacher during high school and so we set up a photo set on a weekend at Fabian’s parents’ house. We also provided Fabienne with a website where she could publish her portfolio.
We quickly realized that photography was a key element to creating great analog and digital products. Brochures, websites or banners – they all needed the right photographic material to shine. We produced similar products for Fabienne’s friends in the competition – who ended up making first and second place. We realized that having a photo studio really helps but setting it up every time from scratch was time-consuming.
I was nearing the end of my year in the military and had decided to study Electrical Engineering at ETH Zurich after finishing my service. Fabian had realized that the hours as a radio host were not for him – too often his days were irregular and led to an unhealthy lifestyle. He was also ready for a new challenge. The inbound requests had definitely picked up at this point and so we decided to make Mediasign a real thing.
We found offices and set up the notary documents. I took out a loan of 25k CHF to pay for my share and we started a company. The day we officially created Mediasign happened to fall in the first week of my studies at ETH.
What came then was quite a tumultuous ride for the next 1,5 years – but I’ll keep that for another post. Anyway – this is how Mediasign started. We did not intend to turn our hobby into a business but looking back, we’re both glad we did. Not only did we both grow personally and as friends, but it also provided us with a variety of invaluable professional experience at a very young age.
Has one of your hobbies ever developed into a business?