Nikolay Shkilev is a serial entrepreneur based in Russia. Holding a PhD in Economics from the University of St Petersburg, he is the president of Balt Shelf Holding, a company with many businesses from logistics, to high tech to manufacturing. He has held this role since 1997. He is also the founder of the Private Business Club, an invitation only networking group of high net worth individuals, entrepreneurs and politicians (although not as yet penniless journalists). And in 2018 he was voted one of the top three people in Blockchain.
The move into the blockchain space almost did not happen. Eight years ago some of his developers in his traditional fintech space told him about bitcoin. At that stage he was not interested.
“It seemed to me a bubble and moreover was associated with drug dealers. It just did not appeal to me.”
Fast forward to five years ago and a blockchain project approached Nikolay.
‘They wanted me to be a mentor. I didn’t know anything about ICOs or crypto but they said that wasn’t important — they knew I had been successful many times in the business world and they wanted me to be a mentor.”
This first project, coming as it did during the ICO hype, was successful and raised $36 million. Nikolay and crypto proved a winning combination. Thereafter, multiple projects approached Nikolay, knowing the very presence of his name would lend gravitas to their fundraising. Nikolay had the luxury to pick and choose his projects — after all he had real experience in building companies, and that was in stark contrast to many other self-styled advisors. It was a wild west period in 2018 with ICO advisors popping up all over. Many advisors had a high profile but little real business experience, they charged high fees and demanded large coin allocations. While the going was good, projects fell over themselves to secure big names, with the less scrupulous even pretending they had signed up people and stuck fake profiles on their websites. Celebrities got in on the act and it was a bruising ride for much of 2018, until it wasn’t and the bruising was of the painful variety.
The experience of being a mentor for many top projects led Nikolay naturally to his own project, Zelwin, a global marketplace of goods.