Nina, welcome to the TP blog! We are excited to learn more about you and the unique path you took to becoming CEO of Tokenplace. Before going back, let’s focus on the present moment. There was a huge boost in the public discussion of crypto that built up during pandemic, with the mainstreaming of NFTs, the rise of memecoins like Doge, and institutional investors like MicroStrategy buying BTC. How do you assess the state of the industry, and where do you see Tokenplace’s role in this moment?
Thanks for having me, and for the question. If you look at crypto from a 10,000 foot view, the market is still very young, raw, and fragmented. A new, more mature era of customer-focused, infrastructural companies will emerge, and Tokenplace is gearing up to be one of the leaders. I look at the crypto industry as the unexplored universe, where we will have planets, stars and constellations (infrastructural solutions), and even shooting stars. And yes, some will go to the moon (literally!)
At this moment, the crypto industry is still a bit of a Wild West, but the user growth is exponential, partially driven by the global nature of adoption. Some countries like Vietnam that are considered economically lagging are leading the world in crypto adoption. El Salvador recently made BTC legal tender. So this great growth in the developing world is now being coupled with media coverage in the Western world, with the likes of Elon Musk. Even in the US, there are some thought leaders at the city (Miami) and state levels (Wyoming).
Tokenplace is a platform that allows you to trade on Binance, Coinbase, OKEx, and all other exchanges simultaneously without worrying about where the best liquidity or the best prices are. People talk about algorithmic trading, but in fact true algorithmic trading like it’s done in traditional trading is only possible on a multi-exchange terminal like ours, since the market is so fragmented. Tokenplace is the first service to bring multi-exchange algorithms to retail traders (institutions have had these systems for years now). Plus our platform is user-friendly enough to onboard all the millions of people that are new to crypto and don’t even know where to start or what the top exchanges are. It’s a one-stop shop. Simplicity, experience, and security will be key!
You’re among the group of people with experience in the mainstream financial world who pivoted to embracing crypto. Someone like Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan was a crypto skeptic to the end, until his company had to catch up and start buying bitcoin like all the rest, but you immediately saw that the financial world was shifting towards blockchain and DeFi. Can you tell us about how that happened?
First of all, I don’t see the blockchain revolution in finance as a black-and-white binary. I got well acquainted with the traditional financial world. In my opinion, we should expect more convergences between CeFi (centralized finance) and DeFi (decentralized finance), taking the best from all worlds. There are many fascinating growth opportunities that will prove to be beneficial for humanity, and possibly even on a multi-planetary level, with the way SpaceEx is proceeding!
My career began as a sixteen-year-old in Moscow, when I went to work for Ernst & Young. I eventually worked for other Big 4 consulting firms in NYC, which gave me broad experience working with all kinds of companies and talent. I gravitated towards tech startups, and I love the energy, futuristic thinking, and daring attitude of this sector. I encountered blockchain while working on the innovation growth agenda at my firm, and realized the incredible potential it had.
My introduction to digital assets came later, in 2017, when my teenage son went to a cryptography camp and came back wanting to buy BTC and trade cryptos. Naturally, I wanted to know what he was involved in, and got exposure into the crypto community. Since my network was pretty big in the financial capital of the world, I also got introduced to some interesting VCs such as Pantera Capital that were among the first to make major moves into early-stage funding for crypto ventures.
Since then, I’ve become committed to advocating for blockchain, and co-founded Tokenplace to help bring customer-facing business knowhow into the space. I’m doing this to help drive adoption for a technology that I think will be incredibly productive and empowering globally. The entrepreneurial energy in this space is huge, as attested by my son and other next-gen participants in crypto, and I’m excited to be a part of it.
You mentioned at the beginning that the crypto market is hot but still very young and fragmented. If Tokenplace succeeds in building a user-friendly, one-stop shop for pro traders and new users alike, that would indeed bring a new level of efficiency and convenience to the market. As you work towards helping crypto and DeFi reach this next stage of maturity, what broader impact do you want to see in the world?
Aside from helping the promise of crypto blossom for the benefits it can bring to the economy, I see an opportunity here to push towards greater inclusivity. I see crypto as an opportunity to bring more women into creating their own wealth. Entering crypto businesses will allow them to do better than prior generations in traditional sectors. I’m very vocal about promoting this message, and try to set the best example I can for the next generation. That’s really my passion, empowering young people to be entrepreneurial, think boldly, and get involved in initiatives that are dear to their heart and shape our world to be a better place. The more we can get women and next-gen minds involved, the better the progress will flow.
From a product adoption and market fit standpoint, the team at Tokenplace has been studying crypto user demographics and behaviors around the world. I often say: at times, the last one is the first, because of the intelligence, insights and lessons learned from prior and existing players. You don’t always need to be the first to be the best.