Meet The Disruptors: Dzhangar Sanzhiev Of MatchFamilies On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
“Do the right things and the results will follow,” which was once said by one of my very first managers early on in my career. I’m still following this advice, which helps me be persistent in what I’m aiming to achieve.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dzhangar Sanzhiev.
Dzhangar Sanzhiev is the founder of MatchFamilies, a recently launched app designed to help families make new friends with other families. Dzhangar has lived and worked in Thailand, Russia, Germany, USA and knows how challenging it could be to form a new social circle from scratch, especially as a family. From these life experiences, he launched MatchFamilies to help millions of families worldwide make new social connections, find like-minded people, socialize and make friends. Before founding MatchFamilies, Dzhangar had been focusing on growing better leaders within international HR consulting.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I moved to Germany in 2016 with my wife and two daughters. We needed to build our social circle from scratch, and we found it to be quite challenging. Of course, you meet some people along the way and it’s mainly through kids — as kids make friends quickly and then you connect as families. But this process takes a lot of time and effort. Meeting like-minded families that completely match yours may take years. It depends on luck. So I thought, how can I help other families find their best friends quickly and easily using technology? That’s how the MatchFamilies app was born.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
In our individualistic world there are very few social platforms that are focusing on families and their needs. For example, you could use Facebook to find some family friends, but it is populated with profiles of individuals, so you don’t know if a person is married, has kids or not, what are their interests etc. What’s special about MatchFamilies is that we are the first platform where people register as a family and can connect with other families based on their location, age group, family interests, kids’ age, languages they speak — details that are important to figure out if another family matches yours. We (married people) also want to socialize and make friends! There was no solution for families before we launched. Additionally, we are building more features to cover more needs families have — helping them save money and socialize offline with other families at our family-friendly events, where parents can chat while kids are being taken care of as well as help them connect with their best matches in their travel destinations. We are the first socialization and community platform for families worldwide.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I created our first logo on my own. On the logo icon there was a kind of a typical family of four people, just like my family, inside a heart. Some people were asking if the app is a medical app solving heart problems. 😊Also, it was not reflective of our app’s inclusivity because it’s actually for families and couples of all genders, with or without kids, and for single parents who just want to socialize and find their village. So I hired a designer to create a more inclusive logo.
The lesson — don’t only rely on your own thinking, even in early stages. It’s good to involve more people, get more opinions, and feedback.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I have a mentor who has been helping me along the way. His name is Tom Deutsch and he has been instrumental in expanding my network and finding the right people to talk to, as well as providing feedback and guidance, challenging my thinking and helping improve. Also, I participated in a startup accelerator program in NYC called Starta VC. Their mentors and coaches have shaped my thinking and provided incredible impact on where we are now — as a startup and on our strategy.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
I think the disruption of the automobile industry could be an example of when it’s not so good, especially when considering climate issues and the Earth’s pollution. But that’s short-term. I hope moving forward the production of electric cars will not cause a negative impact on our planet even while they are trying to help save it. I think there are more positives in disruption than negatives, if it is executed wisely.
Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- “Do the right things and the results will follow,” which was once said by one of my very first managers early on in my career. I’m still following this advice, which helps me be persistent in what I’m aiming to achieve.
- The classic Steve Job’s quote, “You have to work not 12 hours a day, but with your head” made me laugh when I first heard it, but I think it’s a good reminder to stay focused and thoughtful in what you are doing.
- I think all parents, just like my parents, should teach their kids to “never give up”, if you really want something.
- In my past roles in HR consulting, I used to get a lot of advice related to the importance of effective interactions, emotional intelligence, empathy, and building trust — all which provided tremendous impact on my success as a leader.
- I’ve recently came across advice (somewhere on LinkedIn) directed to startup founders who are looking to raise venture capital investments. The advice was for startups to focus on growing their business and to spend less time on the search and outreach to investors, because if your business is doing well, they will find you on their own. I’m following this advice and hope it’ll bring the results 😉
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
We are building the most value-centric platform for families. And families have a lot of needs, so we have big plans. We are currently looking for investors to help us execute on that vision.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
A TED Talk by Harvard’s professor Robert Waldinger provided a lot of impact on my thinking. They conducted the biggest research on adult life and found out that “close relationships with friends and family” is what makes people the happiest, more than money or fame. These close relationships also help people live longer lives. Imagine you don’t have your friends and family nearby, because you moved to another city or country. That means that you don’t have what’s most important in your life. How crazy is that?
I thought that this problem is big enough for me to quit my old job and launch MatchFamilies.
According to research every 4th American feels lonely and isolated, so we have a lot of work ahead!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Pursue your dream no matter what!t”) It helps me stay focused, positive and dedicated.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
A movement to support changes in education systems worldwide, so that kids learn subjects that they will really be able to apply in the real world in the future.
How can our readers follow you online?
Download the App in the App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/matchfamilies/id1545588883
Download the App in the Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.itech.matchfamilies
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MatchFamilies-App-173230091481102
Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/matchfamilies/
LinkedIn Page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/70883392
Dzhangar’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dzhangar-sanzhiev-b3923931/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!