I have always dreamed of marketing my own product. When it comes to the product, I can’t say what it will be, but I can guarantee you that it will definitely have an impact on the industry I am trying to enter.
Hello. My name is Mustafa. I am a backend and frontend developer currently living in London.
I grew up in a lovely island called Cyprus in the Mediterranean and I studied Computer Science & New Media Design at RIT. My interest in design and technology lead me to pursue a career in digital agencies and currently I run my own company called Saypr building digital experiences. Previously I have worked at ROKKAN and R/GA London/New York.
What do you do for inspiration?
I watch a lot of documentaries about people who have succeeded in their fields. Knowing what they have gone through and the challenges that they faced along the way inspires me.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
I am not sure if it is my biggest achievement but the most life changing one was being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. That started my journey to New York and shaped my career.
How many hours do you work each week?
A normal week would be around 60 hours for me. As you can imagine, sometimes this could go off the roof.
How do you relax or unwind?
I am really into cycling. I go for a ride whenever I need one.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
I would have loved to be a professional athlete one way or another, preferably a football player.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
The favourite part of my job is the moment when a project you have been working on for months goes live. Priceless moment. Whereas the hardest part is debugging other people's code. Trying to understand what someone else was thinking at a given time is tough, and you will probably find yourself getting stuck so often. That's when you should give a break and go for a walk.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
I have seen many sunrises.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
There are actually a couple. The first one was the moment I got a job offer from ROKKAN. That day I was about to sign a contract with another company in a different field. I guess it was perfect timing, and was the start of my career in digital advertising. The other one was when I joined R/GA. I knew that I had just landed to the right place. It just felt right.
What software could you not live without?
Photoshop is the one.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
Apple, IDEO, Braun. No doubt.
Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?
Yes! I think Nike Better World has created an era of never ending Parallax websites. I remember the first time I have seen that site, I was simply blown away. How did they do it? Why haven't I never thought of that before?
The other one was Foursquare. Foursquare has started the era of gamification.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
I remember my college years dreaming of winning an FWA. Not only is it a prestigious award, but also sets the bar high enough for you to keep learning everyday.
Winning an FWA has brought a lot of attention. But more importantly, it has given me some extra desire to aim higher.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
My very first website was for my high school class. It had a gif blinking "welcome", imagine the rest. It might be online somewhere. Good times!
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
No I haven't written any books yet, but I will love to write a book with tons of illustrations.
Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?
I always turn to sports to refresh my mind. It works every time. The other one is travelling with my best friends. I really like travelling to interesting spots in the world and there are so many of them.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
It’s very hard to say. The web is a medium that keeps changing on a daily basis. In 10 years time, I believe the internet of things will pick up making websites even more important.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
Aaaah! It's a tricky one. Next project will always be my best project. Looking at my latest projects, I can say that amazing stuff is on the way.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
It is super tough. There are so many people out there but in such a niche industry, you need to find the right people.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Word of mouth and the awards that I have won made it easier to get new clients. I realized that if you keep your quality high enough, people keep coming back to work with you.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
I take a look at the award winners on a daily basis. I read a lot of blogs and follow some key people on Twitter. I find Twitter very useful in that sense.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
United States for sure. Places like New York City & Silicon Valley are pure inspiration for innovation. The people of those cities simply breath in inspiration and breath out creativity.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
I have always dreamed of marketing my own product. When it comes to the product, I can’t say what it will be, but I can guarantee you that it will definitely have an impact on the industry I am trying to enter. I will definitely apply all the best practices I have learnt throughout the years.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way”. This quote pretty much explains me. I have big dreams, specially digital ones and I would like to pursue them.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
It’s gonna sound like another Nike ad, but “Keep on dreaming”. Dreams keep you going even in the toughest times, especially in such an industry that evolves so often. Just because you were educated in design/development does not mean that’s your bounds. The best people that I have worked with have had many areas of interest.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
My pleasure. Thank you.