Founder Spotlight: Matt Astifan

The Internet Masterminds founder reveals how pivoting from film to teaching led to building a thriving community and business

Welcome to Vancouver Tech Journal’s founder spotlight, where we get into the backstory of the people leading Vancouver’s must-know companies.

When the path toward your dream job isn’t what you expected, taking in reality and moving on can be easier said than done.

For Matt Astifan, he turned disappointment into opportunity after deciding to no longer pursue becoming a movie director.

Astifan would draw on what he learned from the industry to found multiple online businesses before turning 25 and Internet Masterminds (IM), a thriving community of Internet entrepreneurs seeking insights into building great businesses online.

Through IM, Astifan has facilitated connections between members, clients, partners, service providers, sponsors, and investors. These connections have led to many success stories beyond driving business, like fostering lasting friendships and even romantic relationships. 

Astifan sat with the Vancouver Tech Journal to share his journey of pivoting from film to teaching an online course before IM became a community and then a business, how the IM community grew with no advertising, and why he encourages entrepreneurs to think way bigger.

Where were you born?


What did you want to be when you were a kid?

As a kid, I dreamed of being a movie director. 

Films like Pulp Fiction and Fight Club educated, moved, and inspired me. I loved the power of storytelling to change lives. I pursued film studies and spent a few years in the industry, working mostly in props and art directing indie projects. 

Eventually, I left due to the long hours and lack of personal time, which often felt unhealthy. However, the skills and work ethic I developed in the film industry greatly enhanced my ability to organize and host large events at IM.

Favourite class in school?

Surprisingly, my favourite class was math. 

I'm a logical thinker. I love how, with the right formula, you can always find the correct answer. It's clear-cut, right or wrong.

Previous job before Internet Masterminds?

Before IM became a business, I taught an online course called the social media director certification program for nearly 10 years. 

I helped hundreds of people launch and grow their freelance careers as social media directors. At the same time, I was hosting IM sessions every Monday at 7 p.m., initially as a meetup rather than a monetized venture.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

The first thing I do when I wake up is hit the gym. 

I don't leave until I've got sweat dripping down my head. These morning workouts significantly boost my mental focus and productivity throughout the day.

What’s the last thing you do before bed?

I do a brief stretching routine, then lay on an acupuncture mat, which makes me fall asleep pretty quickly. 

What are you reading right now or listening to?

Currently, I listen to three podcasts regularly: My First Million, Marketing Secrets, and All-In. Each offers unique insights into business and marketing that keep me up-to-date with industry news and trends. 

Where do you normally work from?

I have a well-equipped home office with optimal lighting and multiple monitors — perfect for getting laser-focused when working solo on big projects. 

I also work from Nook Coworking in Richmond for collaboration and content production in their studio.

Elevator pitch — what does Internet Masterminds do?

IM organizes engaging events for entrepreneurs, investors, and business professionals. 

We host both public and exclusive members-only events in-person and online. They're designed to foster connections and collaboration and enhance digital marketing skills.

Why did you start Internet Masterminds?

IM started as a meetup group in 2008, attracting 50 to over 100 attendees every Monday at 7 p.m. without any advertising. People just knew to show up. 

In 2023, I relaunched it with the IM Membership to create a “business gang for good.” It's like a brotherhood and sisterhood of people who support each other through both business and personal challenges.

Have you raised any money?

I haven’t raised any funds for IM yet, but I’m planning to explore funding opportunities soon.

What do you wish you knew when you started?

In 2014, I began recording the presentations at our events and kept them behind a paywall. In hindsight, I wish I had uploaded them to YouTube as they were filmed. 

When I started uploading our catalogue to the IM YouTube channel a few years ago, many videos were dated. By then, there was limited demand since the uploads came long after the events.

What’s one of the biggest challenges you are facing right now?

One of the biggest challenges I face currently is managing the multitude of tasks involved in running IM by myself. 

From finding and preparing speakers, to writing promotional materials, designing both digital and physical event elements, securing sponsors and coordinating event logistics, I handle it all. 

Although I've developed systems that make me highly efficient, this approach isn't sustainable. Delegating these tasks would allow me to focus more on growth and strategic partnerships. 

What’s the most memorable milestone in your career so far?

After a hiatus from early 2020 to mid-2023, IM hosted its first comeback event in July 2023, attracting over 180 attendees. It was our largest gathering by then. 

An even more pivotal event occurred in October 2023 at Science World, which drew over 220 attendees. During this event, I launched the IM membership with a 10-minute pitch, resulting in 25 new members that day. The overwhelmingly positive response confirmed the viability of the business model. 

In April 2024, we reached 100 members.

What are you learning right now?

Currently, I'm focused on learning how to build, moderate, and monetize our online community

While our initial focus has been on Vancouver’s entrepreneurs, investors, and business professionals, the ultimate goal is to expand into a global community with chapters worldwide. 

I believe the key to growing our global audience is to replicate the vibrant, in-person community we've cultivated in the online space.

Who is one of your biggest mentors and why?

Eben Pagan played a major role in helping me understand business and marketing. 

Although we never worked one-on-one, his teachings were pivotal when I first started in marketing at the age of 23. 

I consumed many of his courses, and joining his mastermind group at 26-years-old transformed my mindset and approach to business. 

One of the biggest lessons I learned from him was the concept of “speed of implementation.” It emphasizes that the faster you put something into action, the more likely you are to succeed.

What’s a recent habit you’ve picked up that’s made a difference in your life?

A recent habit that’s significantly impacted my life is not taking things personally. As I manage numerous relationships, I've realized it's easy to inadvertently offend others. 

Now, I simply let things go and am ready to reconnect whenever others are, accepting their return gracefully — even if no apology is made. 

Often, when people react negatively, it's not necessarily about me but the meanings they attribute to things or other stresses in their lives. 

Recognizing this has helped me shed ego and concerns over being right or wrong, focusing instead on maintaining relationships that I hope will last for decades.

Where do you see yourself in 3, 6, and 9 years?

Honestly, I don't typically plan beyond a two to three year horizon, as the pace of change can be unpredictable. 

However, my immediate goal is to expand IM by establishing chapters around the world. These chapters will be led by local leaders who will host events to build community and grow our IM membership. 

In addition, I plan to host a large conference to bring our global community together.

How do you prevent burnout?

I work hard until I feel the onset of burnout and then take a break to relax and recharge. 

This could be a quiet weekend at home, a short trip, yoga, a massage, or a long bike ride while listening to a motivational audiobook. 

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

My advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to think bigger, way bigger. 

I used to believe that aiming for six or seven figures was the pinnacle, fearing that exceeding this would be overwhelming and detract from family or personal time. 

However, I've come to realize that the opposite is true. The more you earn, the more freedom and impact you can create. Thinking small is a disservice to yourself and your loved ones. 

What’s your favourite coffee shop in Vancouver?

I typically go to Starbucks as my go-to coffee shop in Vancouver. 

Their coffee is consistently good, the Wi-Fi is reliable, and I appreciate that they don't mind customers staying for extended periods while working.

What’s your favourite restaurant in Vancouver?

Gastronomy has been a fantastic supporter of IM. 

They've helped us host over a dozen private dinner parties for our members and guests. Working with them has been a pleasure.

What’s your favourite vacation spot?


What website or app do you visit the most?

AppSumo. I enjoy discovering useful apps and tools there.

What’s your favourite show to binge watch?

I’ve seen almost every season of Survivor.

A big part of surviving in the show and life is your social game, such as building and maintaining relationships, influencing decisions, responding to others' emotions, and staying connected within the group to avoid being seen as an outsider. 

But most importantly, resolving conflicts within your alliance to keep it strong. While in Survivor only one person wins, in life, we can all achieve success based on the strength of our alliances and relationships.

Who’s one person or brand everyone should follow on social?

I don't believe there's one person or brand everyone should follow, but I find IM pretty cool, as it's been growing steadily. 

I follow back all the cool people I come across in Vancouver, so checking out the 'following' list will lead you to lots of great individuals from our community.

Do you support any charities? If so, which ones and why?

While I love giving back to people and the community, I've always hesitated to donate to charities due to concerns about how the money will be spent and the impact of my donation.

I prefer to support causes and initiatives where I can see direct results or clearly understand how my contribution will make a difference.

What does Vancouver’s tech ecosystem need the most?

Vancouver's tech ecosystem boasts talented product designers, incubators, funding opportunities, and events. 

However, many startup founders lack the knowledge of effective marketing strategies to drive initial adoption and scale user growth at the early stages of their product development. 

My advice to founders is to consider partnerships, also known as “joint ventures,” as a powerful strategy for growth and collaboration within the ecosystem.

What kind of support can you offer the community?

We offer monthly Mastermind Dinners for our members and guests. 

Attendance is free. Guests only pay for their meals at the restaurant. The purpose of these dinners is to facilitate networking and potential collaborations among attendees.

I dedicate significant effort to curating these dinners to ensure the right connections are made. Anyone can apply to attend these dinners through our website.

How can people connect with you?

I’m mostly active on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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