Here’s my story, so far…
I was born in Port Vila, Vanuatu, a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean where I grew up under the coconut trees, eating bananas, mangoes, papaya and fishing for the most part of my days. Here was my back yard:
At the age of 13, I was sent to boarding school in Brisbane, Australia and upon graduation, commenced university at Queensland University of Technology in 1995. I graduated from university with a Bachelor and Master in Biotechnology with Cum Laude (GPA 7/7). It was a really cool university in the center of the city with lots of nature and space to think:
In August 2000, I moved to Amsterdam, and started a PhD in Medicine, which I completed successfully in May 2007. My thesis details the development of a vaccine against HIV and the discovery and characterization of the first drug-dependent AIDS virus. I also authored some popular reviews on the topic of HIV-1 drug-resistance and drug-dependence and Inhibiting HIV-1 entry with fusion inhibitors. In all, I managed to publish 10 peer-reviewed scientific articles during my PhD and created new approaches for scientific research in viral drug dependency and vaccine design. Here I am defending my PhD thesis with a self built presentation in flash (when flash was the hot)!
In 1998, I got my first taste of entrepreneurship through the development of a website to connect students with tutors online. I had been tutoring students to help them pass their exams. When I started to have too many students, I decided to develop a website to connect students and tutors online and self-taught myself HTML, PHP and SQL in order to automate the process of sign up and match making. I first launched the service within my own university, than nation wide and then went global.
The service became very popular due to people being able to find the website in search engines. This is how my SEO (search engine optimization) journey started. I optimized firstly in AltaVista and directories like Yahoo even before the days of Google and remember the first day Google launched online in 1998. Due to the website gaining traffic from all corners of the world, I took the free service global under the domain name Findatutor.org in early 2001. By 2002, the website was connecting 1000’s of students & tutors online for free. (See archive.org)
Although the service was free to use, I suggested to tutors to install a small advertising bar on their computers, which paid them and myself money for being online. This got me through university and resulted in low 4 figure checks each month in the mail, which was a lot of money as a student in those days.
While I was working on my PhD, I had a strong affinity for Internet and in 2004 I started a hosting and domain registrar company selling hosting solutions and domain names. Thanks to SEO and a top 3 ranking for the term “free hosting” the business grew to over 5000 active accounts by 2007. Customers would pay a $5 setup fee for a basic free hosting plan. I would then up-sell them on hosting services and domain names. (See archive.org)
I remember having to deal with 100’s of support questions each day and answering them in my spare time and while on breaks between experiments; handling HIV virus in a Bio-safety lab with a suit and mask one minute and helping someone setup his/her website and email the next. It taught me a great deal on domain names, email, hosting, websites, blogs, forums and everything to do with getting online.
In 2006 I decided to sell the hosting company and its clients and moved my attention over to blogging. With my strong understanding of SEO and marketing through search engines, I very quickly grew visits, ad impressions and revenues to a 6-figure annual income. I used this income to acquire and resell domain names and websites and formed a holding company in 2007 (Baldemia) to manage the assets, shortly after completing my PhD.
I did dabbled in the stock market as a day trader for about a year and managed a significant sum of money. I traded primarily in Technology, Health and Energy sectors, which I was very interested in and enjoyed learning about. Due to my analytical skills and being able to identify trends from data, I had a talent for day trading but quickly lost connection with the value of money, which I did not like. I was fortunate enough to be in a bull market (2006/2007) and traded on a rising tide. I pulled out of the market just before the downturn and economic crisis hit due to other priorities and responsibilities (lucky me!).
In 2007, days after completing my PhD, life started to move very fast. I co-founded a company in India called SemWeb Services in order to outsource SEO services. This company grew to 35 employees by end 2007. I also got the opportunity to work for one of the leading SEO firms in the US, and become their Director of SEO and Chief Technology Officer, leading a team of about ~100 talented individuals across sales, marketing and technology. Their leader was a great mentor to me. Thanks Eric!
I facilitated the development of 1000’s of websites generating considerable revenues, oversaw 100’s of client SEO and marketing campaigns, developed software solutions to automate and cut costs and learned from talented entrepreneurs and individuals with expertise beyond what I had been exposed to. It was a very fast paced environment and had me traveling the world.
After 2 years of fast-paced life, I decided to slow things down a little and focus on my own company – Baldemia. I grew revenues fairly easily and consistently to high 6-figures and re-enforced my development outsourcing team in Romania, which later grew to 14 employees (Baldemia Dev). Here is what Baldemia.com looked like in 2010: (see archive.org)
We invested heavily into domain names and websites and built a portfolio of over 8000 domain names and 3000 websites by 2011. It was a land grab and we were buying domains very cheaply, focusing our efforts on acquisition for the purpose of development and re-sale. Baldemia ultimately had company representations in 5 countries: Netherlands (Baldemia), France (Baldemia SARL), United Kingdom (ARI LtD), Romania (S.C. Baldemia DEV S.R.L) and India (SEMWEB Services LtD).
In 2011, I decided to buy a house in France and move there with my family. 2011 and 2012 where rest years for me, reflecting and planning for the future while enjoying life at a slower pace. I married and had 3 children. You can see my house at www.villabilly.com.
In 2013, I put myself on the market as a consultant, helping companies grow their presence online. My first major project was for a non-profit organization called the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD), which involved launching a new institute called the Amsterdam Health & Technology Institute (AHTI). AHTI’s purpose is to improve healthcare systems and promote better health. We had a very unfortunate and terrible event in 2014 where we lost 2 colleagues in the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane crash. You can read about Joep Lange and the AHTI team in this forbes article (Picture of the AHTI team with me on far right and Joep on far left).
I also ran the largest online cystic fibrosis community in 2013/14 and helped to forge collaborations for the CF Technology foundation. I also grew and managed the fastest growing Cystic Fibrosis facebook page in 2013 and brokered premium domain names through Medrise Inc. like Ostepath.com, Hydrotherapy.com and another dozen similar medical domain names. I also developed and sold Houses.co.uk for a significant amount.
In early 2015, I took on a project as head of SEO for Europcar International, where I manage a 9-figure SEO channel across desktop, mobile and apps on europcar.com, 9 corporate countries and 100’s of franchises. That was a lot of fun actually! 🙂
More recently in 2016, I am trying to make a difference at an online performance agency called Traffic4u in the Netherlands. Traffic4u became part of IPG mediabrands in 2014 and its a very exciting and dynamic group of people working together under different labels.
to be continued…
Chris Baldwin, PhD
How to contact me:
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form on this website.
Where I (use) to live at www.VillaBilly.com – Now in Oegstgeest, Netherlands