Just keep swimming – but only in the direction you want

by Ivan Mazour

ellen-dory-finding-nemo-2__oPtBack in 2010, I was busy running my property management company, Park Street Estates, and doing property development through Innova Kapital. Even though I had studied mathematics at Cambridge, the extent of my technical ability and workload was creating Excel spreadsheets for cashflows and budgets. Even this was quickly taken away from me by my business partner who turned out to be better at it. The one thing I seemed to know was that there was no way that I could do an online startup, because I had not spent the past decade learning to program and make exciting things on the internet.

In my mind, I had this assumption that only genius computer science majors did amazing things in technology, and because I had missed out on this experience, much though I wanted it more than anything else in the world, that opportunity was not available to me. Every day in the office was a bit of a drag. Nonetheless, due to serendipitously meeting a few other guys, and based around a problem that had been bugging me for years, we created 42tasks.com – three years ago there was nothing out there that would allow small teams to collaborate on their tasks, and for the manager to be able to guide and oversee them. Certainly nothing with good functionality and a reasonable price range. A tiny bit of investment and some offshore developers in Uzbekistan later, and we had a product that was, at least to me, incredibly useful. We had team meetings on how to improve the UX, without actually knowing what UX was, and at the end of the meeting we would send a brief off to Uzbekistan, and the product update would arrive, a month later, looking completely different to what we envisaged. We must have been the most uncompetitive startup in London.

Throughout this time, slowly I started messing around with some basic coding. A bit of plug and play HTML to customise my original Tumblr blog, and then a bit more to customise this WordPress one. Some simple coding through Codeacademy. I went back to Cambridge for another year of mathematics, and spent most of it programming statistical applications into Matlab and R. All of this was in my spare time – I was still running companies, and none of this coding was relevant to any of them. But what it was doing was taking away that unreasonable belief that I was trapped in a career path that I didn’t want. With every month that passed, my knowledge and my confidence improved. I found myself comfortably talking with other developers, and building out small things for myself. There was a light at the end of the tunnel.

Last year, I finally knew that I was ready – not as a technical founder, but as a technically knowledgeable non-technical founder. I knew how to run a good startup. I understood the ecosystem and the processes involved. I had an idea. But I needed a team. Fast-forward a brutal year of networking and I have the best team I could wish for. Every morning is a joy, and by the end of every day we achieve great things. I couldn’t ask for more. But sitting back and accepting the status quo is exactly what this blog post is against. So this Easter I wanted to see what I could create, technically, and by myself. So I present to you HyperlinkedIn – a two day project to solve a problem that’s been bugging me for years. A one man startup in a weekend.

If we push ourselves to destroy the assumptions we all have about what we can and cannot do, then doing great things in general becomes easier. With time, as we succeed in all the challenges we give ourselves, success becomes second nature in all aspects of our life. We have much to learn from Dory. She missed one very important point though – only dead fish go with the flow. So just keep swimming. Always keep swimming. Just make sure it’s in a direction you choose yourself.



Find out more on the about Ivan Mazour page.
And watch Ivan Mazour's TEDx Talk - "Why we shouldn't be scared of sharing our personal data".

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Dee April 10, 2013 - 10:59 am

Firstly well done on HyperLinkedin – I’ve been looking like something for that for a few weeks!

It’s also very interesting to hear about your back story. You never struck me as someone who would ever be unhappy being at work, you always have tons of energy and your mind is always full of great things. Perhaps shows just how far you have come in a few short years.

This ability to be solution orientated rather then problem orientated is fantastic. It means you see things that so many people do not and it also means that you are more likely to lead a happy and fulfilling life as you are always making a difference. That is inspiring.

Ivan Mazour April 10, 2013 - 4:44 pm

Unhappy is probably the wrong word, but overall it just wasn’t stimulating enough – it didn’t push me beyond my limits, and I felt like I was the one always answering questions for people, instead of having someone to learn from. It’s the usual reason why entrepreneurs or engineers find themselves unhappy in certain job roles or careers. I now spend my time trying to ensure that no one on my team feels like that, because I know what it is like first hand. You are definitely swimming in the direction you want Dee. You’re on an exciting journey, and one you’re in control of!

Maciej Grubecki December 14, 2017 - 10:59 am

Hey Ivan,

I’m a huge fan of your blog. I find it truly inspiring and a fantastic read. It’s a shame that you are not able to blog more often these days, but it’s totally understandable given how busy you are with Ometria. On this note, congratulations for your latest financing round!

I am interested in using HyperLinkedIn – I have created an account but it does not seem to be able to pull in my LinkedIn contacts. I am just wondering whether it still works?


Ivan Mazour December 15, 2017 - 5:20 pm

Thanks Maciej! I’m hoping that things will get more stable in the coming year and I’ll be able to come back to writing, as I’m always disappointed at myself for not doing it enough.

LinkedIn have updated their APIs many times, so HyperLinkedIn definitely doesn’t work anymore. However Contactually have done an amazing job of solving this specific use case and are an actual proper app, so definitely check them out.

Maciej Grubecki January 1, 2018 - 2:32 pm


Many thanks for coming back to me and apologies for my late response! I will definitely put Contactually to use in the coming year, so really appreciate the recommendation.

Great to see your newest piece on Key Decision Analysis – really insightful as usual. I have too incorporated it into my routine, being even more convinced of its value after recently reading Ray Dalio’s Principles.

I look forward to reading more of your writing this year and wish you plenty of successes in 2018.


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