Max Stolyarov is on a mission to change the way viewers consume the world of entertainment. The entrepreneur came to the U.S. from Russia when he was 15 years old, and has had a love for innovation ever since. With his new endeavor, Strimm, part owner Stolyarov has created a product that allows viewers to become their own TV channel producers. With thousands of users across the world and hundred of TV channels, Strimm is gaining a quick following by providing viewers with a free video platform that connects them with others.
When did you realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Since I remember myself being back in Russia, my brother and I were constantly trying to build something, constantly trying to design something…I guess we always were curious about new things. When we came here back in 1988, I went to high school. Even in high school we constantly were trying to do something different.
What was it like assimilating into American culture as a teenager?
American culture and Russian culture is way different. Fifteen is not the age where you can come in and you can assimilate pretty easily. You already have some sort of belief and understanding of reality and different culture and different things don’t always come as if you were three or four. Nevertheless, we were very social and able to fit in pretty quickly. We started working pretty much a month after we arrived to ensure that our parents didn’t have to pay for us. It took awhile to adjust and to change to start understanding American culture differently, but I think it gave us an opportunity to learn and experience different things. There are a lot of things we wouldn’t have been exposed to in Russia – the technology wasn’t there, the education was different, and so in high school, even at that time, the ability to see the new technology in classrooms and ability to see different opportunities around me gave us kind of a big boost and understanding that we really can do anything. It made me realize that anything that I want to I can succeed. I mean the only thing we really need to do is have a lot of patience and determination. Luck is important, too, but not all of us are lucky all the time.
Do you think that your Russian heritage and upbringing has aided you in the business world?
I think it did. We know firsthand that nothing comes for granted. And you really have to work for everything. And you have to try to push yourself out of the comfort zone. You have to push the envelope to make sure that you can learn different things. In Russia, I would not have the same opportunities I would have here. And knowing that difference is very important because if you always had that opportunity you would never really have the chance to appreciate what you have.
Where did the idea for Strimm come from?
It was an evolutionary, two-fold idea. I guess it’s a combination of the frustration with current technology, the opportunity that you see with the current technology, and current limitations. You have two different industries – one is traditional TV industry and one is new internet-based industry for video distribution and streaming. Both of them are great, but they both have limitations. Strimm is a new niche. It is a cloud-based social television platform, which allows anyone to have a TV-like watching experience and at the same time to actively participate in it by creating their own TV channel online. And, it is free.
The experience of building a company from the ground-up is very different from everything else. It’s not like you do things by the book and someone comes in and says “x, y and z”, and you’re done. It’s a creative process, 24 hours a day. You wake up with an idea, and it changes everything. You go to sleep with a different version of the same idea, and the idea is always evolving. That’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur. This creative process does not change. It becomes part of you.
Overall, it was one very big creative process.
What is the mission of Strimm?
Our goal is to give an extra choice to users in their world of entertainment. To allow them to create and affect what they watch on a day-to-day basis without being a passive user. We are trying to provide this niche platform that allows people to be creators and viewers at the same time.
Where do you get the passion to continue working on the business?
I think the product itself becomes your passion. We want to see it succeed. Me and my friends have devoted so much time to it and we see a lot of potential because the product allows you to address shortcomings of various industries around us. It can really benefit people when they start using it. That drives us to continue working on it. The product becomes your life and we worked on it so much and we see so much potential with it that it gives us the motivation.
What are your goals for the future?