Oleg Muza
Oleg Muza

Oleg Muza: The Power of California Is Its People

Oleg Muza of ZiMAD.

Tell us about yourself?

I was born in 1970 in Odesa, Ukraine. There, I graduated from university and got a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1991, I immigrated to the USA as a refugee, and in 1994 I got an MBA degree at San Francisco State University. I specialized in finance–derivative pricing.

I began doing business in 1996, and it wasn’t an IT business at first—it was a tracking company that functions to this day. In 1998, together with a partner, I established a company specializing in software development and outsourcing.

During the following several years, I founded a large number of companies, many of which are still working. And finally, in 2010, the Ximad company was founded. ZiMAD is a trademark of Ximad.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

I think I’m one of the biggest examples of those who were under such a misconception at the beginning.

Too many entrepreneurs only count on themselves and their friends and family and don’t look for external funds.

I consider this one of the biggest mistakes I made, even though it was motivated by certain factors. Misconception number one is that you can only rely on the resources at your disposal.

Misconception number two is that entrepreneurs are afraid they won’t be able to do everything themselves. And we need to fight these misconceptions. In my first businesses, I was the lawyer, the CFO, the CEO, the secretary, and sometimes, even the janitor.

People are afraid of what they don’t know and what they don’t understand in different parts of the business, so they don’t begin a new business based only on the idea.

What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?

If you’re a true entrepreneur, you can’t count on anyone other than yourself in any critical matter. If you don’t understand something about financial statements, grab a book and learn about rudimentary accounting.

If you don’t understand how to read legal documents, listen to a couple of lectures on the relevant topics to speak the same language with your lawyer.

If you don’t know a function that’s in your business, spend some time to go thoroughly into it. This way, you can protect yourself from making the wrong decisions or even from malicious intent.

If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

The most important piece of advice that I could give myself would be not to count only on myself in financial terms.

Instead, look for additional opportunities and help from other people who can invest in my business and help it grow much faster and more efficiently.

A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?

Have children—they will teach you how to balance everything. Good time management is the key to a successful entrepreneur.

Many people say that it is impossible to be a good husband/father and a successful entrepreneur at the same time, but this is a stereotype.

Know how to manage your time properly, discipline yourself, and don’t forget to take time for your health.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

You have to know your market, and you have to read a lot and understand what the trends are.

And understanding these trends really influences your decision-making and even business operations.

You should learn as much as possible about your business processes, competitors, and market opportunities. Who has the information owns the world.

What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?

Our goal is to gather a team that can create any product. So our magic sauce is definitely people.

In our team, people love not only to create games, but also to play them. Passion for what they do helps make products that resonate with millions of users.

How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?

Do everything yourself first—this way you will be able to find the right people for the sales process no matter what company you run.

What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in California over other states in the US?

The power of California is its people. Multiple universities, startups, and companies that you see in all newspapers and on all billboards around the world are your neighbors if you’re based in California.

What (if any) are the weaknesses of operating your business within California?

The weakness is probably the infrastructure or constant traffic jams. Another disadvantage is the extremely expensive workforce, which is sometimes unavailable for certain functions.

And, of course, the highest taxes in the country should not go unmentioned. In California, everything is expensive—from rent to food.

We are currently suffering through a cost of living crisis. With California already being one of the most expensive states to live in, how has this impacted your business?

Thanks to our rich outsourcing experience, we decided to create a distributed company where employees can be located anywhere around the globe, and work just as efficiently as if they were right here.

Our advantage is that we started to work remotely 15–17 years ago, so when the pandemic caught many entrepreneurs off guard, we were already super professionals in doing business remotely.

It is no secret that California is the birthplace of innovation. But that also makes it incredibly competitive. How have you found the competitive environment of California?

All my businesses are international, so California just helped me with the best resources that it provides: human resources and people with a lot of ideas. Networking opportunity and possibilities.

Have you considered moving your company to another state? If so, which state and why?

Yes, we opened an office in Miami, Florida. It’s not such an expensive state.

Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?

I see all of us in a meta-universe. We’re actively working on how we can move into that space and apply our products.

And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?

Come and work with us. Our doors are open to talented people who come to us not only to make money, but also to invest part of themselves in the common cause.

Follow ZiMAD on Twitter or Linkedin.

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