Taking a different life path - interview with a talented young entrepreneur, Cyril Mazur
Taking a different path can be exciting while overwhelming. Taking control of your life isn't an easy task: some succeed, some fail, most can't take the risk. Cyril Mazur shares his experience with our community.
I know Cyril since primary school and we somehow grew up together until late secondary school. We've had similar skills, similars paths, similar studies, similar family environment, similar dreams. But Cyril has always had something I lacked: the courage to make things happen.
I am where I am today because he somehow inspired me a few years ago and lead me to my current path. This blog couldn't be complete without an interview of Cyril.
1. Could you introduce yourself in a few words?
So my name is Cyril Mazur, I am 27, French. At the age of 15 I got hooked up with coding and web entrepreneurship, and since then I already founded and managed several successful web businesses, in various domains (Forex, online advertising, online dating, porn...).
2. What pushed you to become an entrepreneur?
I think it came in a very natural way. At age 15-16, I was literally a “geek”. I was building lots and lots of web pages, with no money incentive, only because I was passionate and was enjoying it. My websites got more or less successful, and I realized I could monetize them (with advertising, or affiliation...). Before age 18, I was already able to earn a decent monthly income out of my online activities, leave my parents house and support my studies by myself. A passion that pays!
When I graduated, I had two options: get a job (like 99% of my promotion) or pursue in my web enterprise. I chose the latter, because I liked the freedom and flexibility of “being my own boss”. And above all, I didn’t want a job that would anchor me to one geographical location. I wanted to travel the world, and the only way to do it was to continue my web businesses.
3. Could you tell us about your career path?
In my early years as a web entrepreneur, I built and run a bunch of websites / communities related to Japanese animations and mangas (I was a fan, Dragon Ball Z was my favorite!). I then shifted to porn, which was a pretty profitable business until the advent of monsters like YouPorn and RedTube. I sold my business and started an online advertising business, along with some affiliate marketing (online casino, poker, Forex...), which lead me to found Forexagone.com with 2 friends (that we can consider the biggest online Forex community in France at the moment). In 2013, I founded a niche online dating site (online dating for ladyboys and transsexuals), which I am still running now in 2014.
4. How many countries have you visited? Where are you currently staying, and why?
I already visited most of Europe, North America and a big part of Asia. If I count, I don’t know, around 30 countries? I am now in Chiang Mai (Thailand) while writing these lines, only staying here for one month. Before that I spent one year in the Philippines, which is a nice country to live in, but I got bored and wanted to see something different. I like Chiang Mai because it’s laid back, not as hot as the south of Thailand (even during summer), life is cheap, and there are a lot of options for tasty healthy food. Next destination will be Bangkok, that I already visited many times, but I don’t mind staying there again, it’s a busy city with a lot of things to do!
5. What is a standard day for someone who chooses to follow your career path?
Even if I move often, I manage to quickly set myself into a daily routine everywhere I stay. I wake up at 6, breakfast, coffee, and I turn on my computer to check the news, read my mails. At around 8, I start working (coding, writing content...). At around 11, I go to the gym. I try to work out every day, I find it essential to release the stress and refreshen my mind. At 2pm, lunch! As much as possible in local street restaurants, it’s authentic and cheap. 3pm my coffee and I resume work until 8pm. Dinner, relax, and I go to bed at 10, so I’m sure to get my 8 hours of sleep before the next day.
I try to maintain this routine during week days, and spend my weekend exploring the place where I live, doing activities around... Unfortunately, it happens often that I break my rule and keep on working during weekends. Especially that I am in the start up phase of my new business, and like all start ups, it’s time demanding. Today is Sunday (as I am writing this) and I haven’t explored much of Chiang Mai yet. I’ll catch up next weekend!
6. You have been creating and selling several companies already. What is the secret of your success?
For me, the secret of success is failure. I created and sold several successful businesses, but I also failed 10 times more other business ideas. The key is to know when to stop when a business idea is not working, and to learn from my mistakes. And I did a lot of mistakes! Many people give up after the first failure. But not me, I am passionate by what I do, and I am not ashamed of my failures, because they help me grow. I try, I learn, and I reiterate until something good comes up.
7. If you could meet yourself when you were 16, what kind of advice would you give?
Actually I’m very nostalgic of my teen years. 16 years old Cyril was able to spend nights and days in front of his screen, writing lines and lines of code, drinking lot of coffee. I didn’t care about being efficient, about deadlines, product cycles... I was not a business man. It was a time of learning and experiences, and I was having fun. I don’t think I’d like to give business advice to 16 years old Cyril, this would kill his passion.
8. The most common problem entrepreneurs and creators usually face is the "last 20%". When you have achieved the largest part of a project and need to deal with the last 20% without any motivation left, what keeps you going?
Yes the last 20% is always dreadful. And I’m very bad at managing them. Until recently, I always wanted to finish my project to 100% before releasing it publicly. I couldn’t stand to show something incomplete to the public, I wanted it to be perfect before any user signs up. Now, I changed my way of doing things. I open my projects to the public as soon as possible (that’s called MVP, Minimal Viable Product) so I get feedbacks from my users in the early stage, which guides me in my development. Doing so, it’s a non-ending development process, because it’s always evolving in one direction or another, and it never reaches 100%. Whether I get positive or negative feedbacks, I always gives me this additional motivation, whether because my users like my product and it makes me happy, or because they don’t and then I need to fix it. Either way, it breaks the monotony.
9. Is there any question I did not ask but you would like to answer?
Yes, I’d like to talk about travelling and how it opened me to apprehend business better. I travelled a lot and experienced the start up scene in various countries in the world. France is in my opinion the most difficult place to do business in. Too much paperwork, too much useless and limiting regulations, too much taxes, and a general anti-entrepreneur mentality.
Before, I was thinking every country was similar, that being an entrepreneur HAD to be difficult and governments DIDN’T HAVE to help us.
When I started to travel and see how things work abroad, I realized it didn’t have to be that way. I was introduced to new ways of thinking, and it made me grow, and it taught me how to get the best out of my country, and how to get the best out of the rest of the world. Speaking English is very important of course. Then travelling and seeing the world, and seeing my home country from a different point of view definitely opened me to pursue new opportunities that I didn’t even know exist.