Entretien avec Matthieu Stefani, l'as du podcast !

Interview with Matthieu Stefani, the podcast ace!

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The camera turns on, and suddenly, there he appears. Good looks, lynx eyes, and hair turning gray that never seems to mess up: Matthieu Stefani is online. In the microcosm (which is no longer quite one, in fact) of the French start-up, the man is a kind of gifted person. Everything he touches turns to gold, it seems: Citizen Side for the image then CosaVostra for the advice and now the famous “Generation Do It Yourself” program for the podcast. A unicorn in his own right, he tells his story here, for Hast. Having taken the trouble, for the occasion, to set up in the recording studio of its offices, among the microphones and cables.

You are said to be a “serial entrepreneur”. You never seem satisfied, always ready to come up with a new business idea. So, basically, what is your problem, Matthieu Stefani?

In life, there are people who like their comfort zone, when things float. I don't know how to do that. I hate it when it slips. Inertia, this fluffy thing, doesn't suit me at all. I have to move forward, even if it means getting pies in my face and failing. I am always on the move. I combine lots of ideas, I write them down somewhere, and then I see what I do with them. When it hits my head really hard, I absolutely have to do something about it. I can not help it. I have to get started. This is how I started the “Villa Maria” project, for example, which is a collective office space in Bordeaux. I had finished building my Paris offices, and I wanted to do the same thing in Bordeaux. I talked about it in my podcast. Some time later, a local entrepreneur who was in real estate contacted me to say he wanted to be in it. We bought offices together, and Villa Maria was born. I'm always launching things, between start-ups and real estate.

How, in your opinion, did this hyperactivity develop?

There's something of my mother in there. I love her, but she's hyperactive, actually. With her, there is never any rest, she is always jumping on you, organizing an activity. And then, deep down, without being too presumptuous either, I think I want to make an impact on the world. At least, my world. I want to launch stories that have impact, that can create jobs and make people happy. I am enthusiastic, positive. It's still terribly exciting to experience this moment, in this era. Tech, as they say, is exploding. I would have loved to live in the time when we discovered the wheel or printing and the steam engine. These are things that changed the world. But the extraordinary thing about the Internet is that, if you are a little resourceful, you can do whatever you want. You can take a project to crazy levels with next to nothing. My podcast, “Génération Do It Yourself”, I started with 400 euros of equipment – ​​with second-hand equipment, it costs even less. And today, it makes more than 300,000 euros in turnover per year. I got into it when I already had a lot of work, a wife, children. But I organized myself. I have organized my time, and I continue to see my family without being overwhelmed. This podcast changed my life, I think. Because of him, I am a better person, a better boss, a better husband and father. You know, when I was younger, I dreamed of going surfing on the other side of the world. With friends, I tried to organize trips like this, but each time, we ended up in the Landes, in Hossegor. My friends were always too lazy to buy their tickets elsewhere. And then one day, I did it the other way around. Without telling anyone, I booked a trip to Bali. Obviously, no one followed me. I found myself all alone. I'm not a big loner. This trip didn't worry me, but I was still a little apprehensive. But in the end, I loved it. I realized that you have to take responsibility for being the spark, the one who moves. If the others don't shake off, that doesn't stop anything. You need to go forward.

The first real project that you launched was Citizen Side, in 2005. It was a sort of participatory press agency which allowed the distribution of videos and photos taken by amateurs. What is the story behind Citizenside?

At that time, you couldn't suddenly declare yourself a producer, as you do today. Especially when we wanted to work in digital. It was land that had not yet been cleared. YouTube didn't exist. I then found myself hired at Metro which, in France, had just launched its free daily newspaper. But deep down, I really wanted to create something. And then, I didn't get along at all with my bosses at the time. I struggled with their authority. I was a free electron, and they didn't like that. In my corner, I began to understand that the photos we took with our smartphones were going to become like a sort of tsunami. I ended up dropping everything to launch Citizen Side. I knew nothing about digital, I had never started a business, but too bad, I went for it. Two years later, we were raising funds with my partners. In France, we were the first to broadcast images of Jérôme Kerviel, this famous trader because of whom Société Générale lost nearly 50 billion euros in 2007. Until then, the press had only to get involved. in his mouth as his bank canteen badge. For our part, one of the members of Citizen Side sent us a video of a few minutes in which we could see Jerôme Kerviel being questioned at the financial brigade. These images went around the world. We also managed to obtain a video of famous designer John Galliano making anti-Semitic statements on the terrace of a Parisian café. These images got him fired from his job at Dior. But at Citizen Side, we weren't just creating buzz. We made available to the mainstream media a lot of images of the Arab Spring revolutions, for example. Every day, people who were risking their lives in the streets sent us content that we relayed for them. In a way, we were helping to change the world.

You left Cizen Side in 2011 and, shortly after, you set up Cosa Vostra, an agency which you are still at the head of today. What is its concept, precisely? Things seem to have changed over the years...

I was 30 years old, I knew how to create websites, produce things and distribute them. I could be a kind of multinational all by myself, with my computer. I looked for business to do. I realized that every time I met people, I was asked for a business card. Mine was metal, and people remembered that. So I decided to make a business out of it. As soon as I put them online, I got orders. It was crazy. I sold 500 at one euro each, per order. Sometimes I have had orders worth 50,000 euros. I also got into rubber bracelets and disguises. I received orders, had them produced and sent them. That was it, CosaVostra. But hey, it was boring as hell. I had a few hiccups, too. One day, I made a mistake about the dimensions of the cards I wanted to have made for my father-in-law. I ended up with cards of a few millimeters, like when in La Vérité Si Je Mens 2, they receive children's clothes. When I told my supplier he was wrong, he said he was just following my instructions. He was right... I was the one responsible. Today, we no longer do that at all at Cosa Vostra. We are a consulting firm that supports several clients, such as TF1 or Google, to help them implement their online services. Very recently, we have just developed a platform for a famous Swiss watchmaker so that its customers can easily resell their old watches.

For a few years now, we have known you mainly because you are the producer and host of the famous podcast “Génération Do It Yourself”, in which you speak with entrepreneurs of all genres. With success, you are becoming a media in your own right, don't you think?

I didn't tell myself that I was going to be a media person. I did things in a very natural and at the same time pragmatic way. I bought two microphones and told people I liked that I wanted to interview them to get to know them, to learn something from them. The first episodes took place on a table in a corner of the Cosa Vostra offices. Today, we have a sort of studio, with good equipment and soundproofing panels on the ceiling. But it remains very artisanal. I don't do much editing. I have a very direct, simple approach, in live conditions. Recently, we launched Orso Media which is a label for podcasters. We help them develop their projects and, above all, monetize them, like what Cyprien and Squeezie do with Talent Web, for example, for YouTubers. For a long time, I dreamed of being a digital nomad. I wanted to work from anywhere, on the road, with my computer and that's it. I was a little confused on that. Today, to make good podcasts, I have to be in an office. Above all, I am a team leader, I work with people, and I love it. At Cosa Vostra, I am sedentary. Ultimately, I don't want to be alone. I would be unhappy otherwise. Except when you're a hermit, it's hard to be alone. I say that because everything I do, in fact, is to be happy, to feel good about myself. That's the only thing that matters.