A Chat with Tim Schäcker

From Mannheim to the world: 24-year-old Tim Schäcker is a bona fide social media star. He and his four friends, collectively known as the Elevator Boys, shot to fame with their TikTok videos. The social media creators have been touring the world ever since. Los Angeles, Rome, Paris — Schäcker gets to visit some of the world’s most idyllic beaches, most exciting cities, most beautiful places. And yet, as he explained to us, he often thinks back to his time studying at Mannheim.

FORUM: Tim, to anyone following your life on social media, it seems like you have a dream job. Do you sometimes have to pinch yourself to believe it’s real?

Schäcker:We’ve certainly got to meet some amazing people, like Brad Pitt and Heidi Klum. The job definitely has its highs and lows. There’s a lot of pressure, you feel a constant weight on your shoulders. But because we’re a group, we can always support each other. We all agree there are still many, many things we want to achieve in our careers, and we’re grateful for all the opportunities and experiences that we’ve had.

FORUM: With the Elevator Boys, you became famous for videos that usually only last a few seconds. How much work goes into your content?

Schäcker: There are actually whole video production units behind those short clips. They work on everything from styling to the creative concept to the actual filming with a camera team. We have to keep on reinventing ourselves and coming up with new, creative ideas. In short, it involves a lot of planning, meetings, and brainstorming, and is definitely a lot more work than it looks like from the outside. The internet never sleeps, so it’s our job to keep delivering a constant flow of content. My days are filled, it’s a 24/7 job, and you rarely get a chance to properly switch off.

FORUM: Nowadays, you travel all over the world. Do you ever still think back to your time at Mannheim?

Schäcker: Despite all the travel and all the places I’ve been, my studies at Mannheim are still an important part of my life. They had a big influence on me, helped me to develop. I’m glad I was able to graduate, as that was something that was very important to me. Among other things, it means I can’t just be labeled as an influencer. I completed a challenging degree, which gave me a solid foundation to build on. One of my best memories from my degree, apart from the student life in Mannheim, was the Euromasters, which I got to take part in twice.

FORUM: It has always been a dream of yours to start a business. And now, alongside the meteoric rise of the Elevator Boys, you’ve launched no fewer than four startups …

Schäcker: Yes! A year and a half ago, the Elevator Boys founded our company Kabu Artist Management so that we could represent ourselves and be managed by our own team that we’ve built up around us. We have an amazing team of ten or so people who push us every day, do creative brainstorming with us, work on our social media collaborations with partners, and help us with strategic advice. We also founded a holding company for joint investments and Elevator Boys Music GmbH as a separate music company. Around a year ago I also launched a startup with two other cofounders (one of them, Kilian Seifert, also studied at Mannheim). That startup has now grown into a team of twelve, and they’re developing a social media app that is due to launch soon. Our goal is to bring millions of people back together and allow them to share ideas with other likeminded people. Our app “Cndo” is designed to make social media social again.

Interview: Jule Leger/December 2023