CoinsPaid isn’t your ordinary fintech company – it’s a unique blend of innovation with a profound human touch

Eugen Kuzin, the Head of Marketing & PR at CoinsPaid, reflects on his remarkable journey. From the narrow miss of a Guinness World Record achievement to his pivotal role at CoinsPaid, he has transformed into a quintessential leader.

Indeed, with his help, the marketing team has evolved into a versatile and cohesive unit, epitomising excellence in every facet of its operations.

Eugen Kuzin

There’s no doubt that a well-established marketing department is central to any successful FinTech. Through meticulous role distribution, process optimization, and the strategic hiring of essential talents, the department emerges as one of the driving forces for the company’s sustained growth, influencing nearly every facet of the organisation.

This comprehensive impact, however, is impossible without the guiding hand of a genuine leader who not only creates the team but also steers it towards achieving business objectives. In the fast-paced, globalised work environment, where employees are scattered all over the world and personal connections are almost absent, fostering a vibrant and positive team atmosphere is no less important. This dynamic setting not only sustains productivity but also fuels innovation and collaboration, contributing indispensably to the organisation’s success.

Eugen Kuzin, Head of Marketing & PR at CoinsPaid, a crypto payment ecosystem for businesses, shares his experience in this interview. The company operates internationally, employing over 240 people worldwide, and its list of professional awards, including the Best Cryptocurrency Payment Gateway of 2023 by Forbes, continues to grow with enviable regularity.

– Eugen, you once aimed for a Guinness World Record with the largest online marketing conference, but it didn’t succeed. Could you share the challenges of that experience and its impact on you?

It took me a year of preparation, but the challenge was inspiring. Long ago, while studying business and marketing at university, I stumbled upon an online course on step-by-step website creation. It captivated me so much that I manually created three websites in the following weeks.

However, I realised there were no visitors, and I needed to learn digital promotion. That’s how I started learning digital marketing, including search engine promotion, social media marketing, and various paid advertising options. While still at university, I co-founded two educational projects consisting of marketing courses, webinars, and conferences. It was during this period that the idea of hosting the world’s biggest online marketing conference emerged, but I quickly realised my skills were not yet sufficient for such an ambitious initiative.

Five years passed, and my professional journey gave me extensive experience in marketing and managing my own business. The turning point came when I attended a live conference in Minsk. The energy of the 5,000-strong audience during the opening ceremony reignited my dream of creating a great online marketing conference. At that time, I was working as the Chief Marketing Officer for the “Anytime car-sharing” company, but a month later, I quit and submitted an application to the Guinness Book of World Records.

– As far as I know, together with the project’s preparation, you fulfilled your long-standing dream of spending winter in warm Asia.

Yes, I had two options – building a team and getting everything done quickly, or embracing a solitary project in warm Asia for an extended period. I was limited in budget and could choose only one option – I chose the latter. In total, I spent six months travelling through Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, simultaneously developing my new business. The event was planned for March 2020 and coincided with the boom in online projects due to COVID-19 restrictions.

It was a week-long conference where each day was dedicated to a particular marketing direction, featuring a total of 56 speakers, including notable figures like Alexandra Mitroshina, Igor Mann, Denis Kaplunov, and others. As a result, the event gathered over 55,000 registrations with 22,700 unique online attendees, which was definitely a record for online conferences, especially Russian-speaking ones focused on marketing topics.

I submitted all the proofs to the Guinness Book of World Records according to their requirements, but my documentation fell short, as they said. Attempts to dispute, discuss, and defend my rights faced communication challenges, leading me to give up after three months. Perhaps, if I had submitted a paid application, the outcome might have been different. Nevertheless, I successfully achieved my personal goal – hosting the biggest online marketing conference in the world.

This experience sharpened my problem-solving and communication skills, significantly fostering my resilience to stress. Importantly, Marketing Week is not only still alive but thrives as one of the best free online marketing events in the CIS. Currently, the project is being led by my partners, as my workload at CoinsPaid no longer allows me to continue running it.

– Could you share a bit about how your journey in blockchain and crypto began and what led you to join CoinsPaid?

My crypto journey began in 2017 when I started buying Bitcoin and altcoins. Unfortunately, cryptocurrency prices took a downturn, and I felt the sting of choosing the wrong investments. I shifted my focus to the stock market for a while. In 2020, my interest in crypto was reignited, this time in the realm of trading rather than investment. To be honest, I still continue to trade and learn to do it consistently and profitably.

In 2021, CoinsPaid’s recruiter reached out to me unexpectedly, even though I wasn’t actively seeking a job as I had my own business. They informed me that the Head of Marketing was interested in talking to me. Initially, I declined, but later agreed to the interview when I learned about the company’s involvement in crypto. The conversation with Dmitry (the former Head of the Marketing department) clicked right from the start. We spent an hour and a half discussing marketing, crypto, the industry as a whole, and various other topics. Both the company and Dmitry piqued my interest, and I decided to transition my online events business to a partner and join CoinsPaid.

– You joined the company at a stage when there were just three people in the marketing department. Since then the in-house team has grown to 18 people. Could you provide some insights into your initial impressions of CoinsPaid and how the marketing team transformed since then?

That’s true. When I joined, the Marketing department consisted of only three employees: a Graphic Designer, an SMM manager, and Dmitry himself, in addition to a marketing agency working as a contractor.

Initially, I handled a variety of low-level tasks, drawing on my relevant experience. However, it became apparent that things could be done more efficiently with the right team members. Simultaneously, I realised that the workflow needed significant refinement. So, I had a conversation with Dmitry and expressed my desire to leave the company if, by the end of the three-month probation period, we didn’t make changes. I was hired for international marketing, not to be a one-person band.

We sat down to negotiate future changes and improvements aimed at establishing a proper marketing department. We both agreed on the necessity of building a well-organised in-house team with clearly defined responsibilities and began the hiring process. Consequently, I chose to continue with the company. I appreciate Dmitry for listening to my concerns, agreeing that changes were necessary, and thus creating the conditions that encouraged me to stay.

Over time, significant changes occurred in the structure of the marketing department. Dmitry left the company, and I assumed his role. The team expanded to 18 people in less than two years. We also decided to minimise reliance on external contractors and now handle most tasks internally. Finding external professionals who meet our standards is challenging, given potential cost issues and concerns about quality. Contractors often work with multiple clients, which prevents them from fully immersing themselves in the specifics of our tasks, ultimately affecting the quality of results.

– What guidance would you offer to a manager seeking to recruit new team members and establish a well-rounded team? Are there typical mistakes that managers should be mindful of in such scenarios?

First, a manager should have a clear understanding of the scope of work the person is needed for. Without a clear vision, both the manager and the new employee could become lost in the process.

Second, I pay close attention to an applicant’s personality. It is extremely important for me to see energy and a passion for self-development. Hard skills can be developed, and new knowledge acquired, but soft skills are much harder to change and require more time.

I also prefer to hire middle or senior specialists who already possess good knowledge and experience. The combination of a fresh perspective, high energy, and wide experience brings tremendous potential, shortens the onboarding process, and eliminates the need for micromanagement.

Third, all managers need to learn when to say “Goodbye.” Regardless of how many interviews or test assignments have been conducted, time is always needed to determine if both the company and the employee are content in the relationship. In my experience, it is more effective to replace a poorly competent or motivated person than to try to pull them up.

– Okay, that sounds great. Could you perhaps suggest either fiction or professional books to people who might be dealing with the challenge of establishing a marketing department from scratch?

Well, that’s a tricky question as it greatly depends on the type of business, marketing goals, and other factors.

For individuals with little to no knowledge or experience in marketing, I recommend reading books by Jack Trout and Al Ries. While some of their content may seem a bit dated in today’s rapidly changing landscape, their books are filled with examples from well-known brands that I found fascinating to study. These books are not just academic texts; they are engaging business literature accessible to a wide audience.

For those who are looking to study marketing in depth, Philip Kotler’s works are a must-read. His books serve as the foundation for any aspiring marketer and are commonly used in university courses. I also admire Seth Godin’s writings and strongly recommend reading Daniel Kahneman. While Kahneman is not a marketer, his insights into how people make decisions are incredibly valuable for marketers. Behavioural psychology is indeed an area of great interest for effective marketers.

– What aspects of CoinsPaid ‘s corporate culture do you believe set it apart from other industry players?

The infectious energy of our CEOs, Max and Pavel, lies at the heart of the company’s distinctive culture. Max’s passion creates a workplace that transcends the ordinary, emphasising both professional excellence and human connection. His visionary leadership inspires the entire team, fostering a sense of psychological ease and making CoinsPaid a place where everyone feels valued and motivated. This shared people-centric commitment ensures alignment, creating a cohesive workplace.

Moreover, Max’s leadership inspires a unique culture that ripples through the organisation, fostering a shared purpose and enthusiasm among team members. CoinsPaid is more than just a workplace; it’s a community where everyone is part of a collective journey. This vibrant atmosphere sets us apart.

Pavel, our co-CEO, complements this dynamic. With extensive financial market knowledge and exceptional strategic thinking, Pavel excels in setting clear tasks and goals, ensuring consistent team success, especially in challenging times. Pavel’s resilience plays a pivotal role in mobilising the team and swiftly resolving problems.

Together, Max and Pavel form a dynamic partnership, and their distinct strengths harmonise seamlessly. They emphasise that it’s about people and their passion. Thanks to all of this, CoinsPaid isn’t your ordinary fintech company – it’s a unique blend of innovation with a profound human touch.

– What kind of manager do you think you are, Eugen?

As a manager, I strive to be supportive and encouraging. While I may occasionally overlook some details due to the volume of communication within the company, I actively seek out interesting ideas and initiatives, making an effort to listen to every member of the team. Well, nobody’s perfect, you know. There are times when I might appear a bit distant or even indifferent to my colleagues – it happens.

Nevertheless, I genuinely try to assist everyone who needs help to the best of my abilities. I make an effort to appreciate all employees equally, with a special acknowledgment for those who show independence and proactivity. I encourage individuals to take the initiative, identify challenges, and propose solutions. I believe in empowering my team members to be self-starters who contribute ideas and take ownership of their work. By creating a culture that values autonomy and encourages proactive problem-solving, I aim to cultivate a dynamic and innovative team.

Additionally, I work to foster a positive and vibrant atmosphere within the team. As an example, I frequently share work-related memes to kick-start our day with a positive and energised vibe. I’m pretty sure this approach works.

– I’ve heard you enjoy sharing memes, Eugen. It’s great to see your team views you as supportive and positive. It’s special when the manager’s vision aligns with the team’s perspective.

Now, let’s talk about work-life balance. What’s your approach? Do you prefer the office’s structure or the flexibility of working from home?

What is work-life balance? Work is life! No, really, I’m the kind of person for whom professional fulfilment is an essential part of my identity. For a long time, work consumed a significant portion of my life, and I found myself working 60+ hours a week, responding to work messages at any time and place, even during the deep night or early morning. My wife even made a funny reel during our 5th anniversary vacation.

Recognizing the need for a better work-life balance, I’ve been learning to set boundaries between my professional and personal life. Now, I make an effort not to immerse myself in work-related chats before or after official work hours. I’ve also resumed going to the gym after a one-year hiatus, not just for staying healthy but as a deliberate mental break from work.

Regarding the work environment, I’ve discovered that I prefer the structure of the office. While I understand the convenience of working from home, I’ve noticed that my productivity tends to suffer, and it becomes challenging to maintain a clear distinction between personal and professional life. Of course, there are times when remote work is necessary and beneficial. However, I’ve been intentional about creating a clear separation between home and work to achieve a healthier balance.

Even when I’m physically present in the office, my communication with colleagues is somewhat limited due to the demands of my role. There’s a constant influx of calls and messages, and everyone seems to have questions. While this ongoing communication is crucial for the team, I’ve been exploring ways to streamline it to preserve some quiet evenings for personal activities like reading, watching movies, playing PS5, or engaging in sports. I also enjoy playing billiards or squash.

– How do you envision the future of CoinsPaid and what are your expectations for the evolution of the crypto payments industry in the years to come?

I see a significant transformative journey ahead for CoinsPaid. While I’m confident that the company will thrive as a business, the path to success will undoubtedly be challenging. Our unwavering commitment to constant growth and excellence, combined with our exceptional team, leaves no doubt that we will succeed.

Despite recent obstacles, I wholeheartedly believe in CoinsPaid’s resilience and its potential to achieve even greater success in the coming years. The transformation we are embarking on will not only solidify our position in the market but also pave the way for innovative solutions and sustained excellence.

Turning to the broader crypto payments industry, I am confident that crypto payments will become commonplace in the next five years. The shift from speculative to mainstream use is evident, with major players like Ralph Lauren, Rakuten, Overstock, Hublot, PayPal, and others leading the way in practical crypto integration across industries worldwide.

I anticipate exponential growth in crypto adoption, driven by the versatile applications of cryptocurrencies in settlements. Regulatory developments also play a significant role in driving acceptance of crypto payments. I foresee crypto gaining broader recognition and extending into various industries beyond its current associations with luxury and online retail.

Despite persistent challenges, such as regulatory complexities and technological considerations, the promises of crypto payments, including faster transactions and reduced fees, are too compelling for businesses to ignore. The future holds immense potential for mainstream acceptance, and CoinsPaid’s forward-thinking approach positions it as a leader in this transformative journey.