AVERAGE SPEED: 100.3 MPH - INTERVIEW WITH ED BOLIAN
Ed Bolian is the founder and CEO of VINwiki. He has worked as sales director for MotorCar Atlanta and holds the fifth fastest time in the cross-country race known as the Cannonball Run, speeding from New York to Los Angeles in a staggering 28 hours and 50 minutes. If you've ever had an automotive dream, Ed has most likely lived it and shared it with the world. So let's see what fuels this self-described "car guy" down the road.
Tell Your Own Story
Let's start with a brief bio. Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
I am Ed Bolian from Alpharetta, GA. I run an automotive media brand and mobile technology company called VINwiki. We have over 2 million followers and get over 1 billion annual views on our automotive content across various platforms. We invite our users to share the tales of the cars they love and work to immortalize the legendary stories of the automotive hobby.
Who and what inspired you to get started in your field?
Although I didn't grow up in a car-loving family, the moment I was able to get behind the wheel of a car, the dreaming began. I was equal parts car-obsessed and road-trip-enthralled. The goals of Cannonball Runs and Lamborghinis set my career path; somehow, over time, they became the career. I suppose everyone has to go pro in something!
How do you pick your projects? What inspires that next "big idea?"
When we say that we love cars, we all mean something different. I find a car that embodies what I love about the automotive hobby from a utility perspective augmented by the experience, engineering, and presence. That recipe tends to be very expensive. Since I didn't come from a traditional family background that leads to exotic car ownership, I learned how to finance them, flip them, and document their history in a way that led to more value. I have manipulated my way into owning most of my favorite cars for free, but there are still a few big ones to go!
What do you feel separates you from others in your field?
I always say, "I have great credit and an inability to sense risk." I know where one of those came from, but the other has shaped my life and career in ways I don't yet fully understand. I have certainly enjoyed the ride, but the one thing that separates me from most aspirational car enthusiasts is that I have never let the minutia of obstacles and contrary reasoning interfere with a clearly-defined goal.
Where do you see your industry headed in the next five years? What about twenty?
I used to say that the cheapest way to own exotic cars was to "look like you won the lottery ten years ago." I have been saying that for the better part of a decade, so the timeline is probably due for some adjustment. When I look at the giant-engined, impractical, gas-guzzling supercars I love, I realize their days are numbered. That being said, they have never been popular from an ownership perspective. The appearance-based attractiveness is sure to wane, and I will be happy to live in my little closed-off "island" of gated manual, naturally aspirated V12 obsession. I'll sneak out and drive on whatever roads I can manage. In 20 years, I can only assume that will be a lonely place, but that just makes it sound even better!
Looking back, what innovation of the past 5-10 years has most influenced your work?
I make a living publishing content to social media platforms that were created 15-20 years ago, but in the last decade, there has been a democratization of "influence" and "following." Those have been what shape my life the most today. The invitation to not just tell or instruct but to invite an audience to join alongside as you have your adventures and share your content is an idea that transcends the respective platforms and has been the most humbling honor of my life.
You get to change one thing about your industry, what would it be and why?
The best thing about my industry and most industries is that they have tremendous inertia. Thankfully that means that no one gets to change much. That might sound narrow-minded or un-innovative, but I love it. I'll continue being me, but the change happens in what I do. The best thing we can all do is figure out what our goals are, what the world is, and change our habits to get us a step or two closer to those goals each day. Before too terribly long, you're there.
What excites you most about what you do? What do you find most challenging?
I get to wake up each day, continuing to dream of the next adventure. The challenge is how open-ended those dreams can be, but obviously, that is the pleasure in it as well. If most people say it sounds impossible, then I know I am on the right track.
With all the resources, time, and money in the world, what would be your dream project?
With limitless resources, only one thing matters to me: Sharing the message that we were made by a loving God. We are imperfect, and our sin is what separates us from Him. Jesus came to Earth, fully-God, and fully-man, and died the death we deserve as a sacrifice for all the failure of all the world. Accepting that and celebrating his resurrection conquering death for us all is the greatest gift any of us could receive. If someone could throw in another $20 million, I would love to deliver that message with a megaphone from a McLaren F1.
Any brands, artists, musicians, or cultural icons you're checking for or looking to for inspiration?
I love it anytime I see someone finding their voice through an unexpected mouthpiece. It might be a Ted Talk, harnessing a social platform in an unexpected way, or speaking out for justice in a way that makes people listen. I love comedian James Acaster, artist Callen Schaub, and anything Quentin Tarantino does.
After a long day, How do you unwind?
Thankfully, I get to unwind most days with my wife and two awesome kids. That might be a game night, sports practice, or movie. That tends to lead to an additional unwinding need, and that's why big V12 engines and hot tubs exist.
Any last words or shoutouts?
Tell your own story. Someone else would probably get it wrong