People Fundamentals #10: Kiril Nikolov – A Recipe for DeFi Success by Nexo’s First-Ever Employee

4 min read

Kiril Nikolov, also more popularly known as @KryptoKiril on Twitter, is Nexo’s very first employee. We all know him as one of the most colorful personas in the office and an unrivaled expert in the sphere of DeFi. Kiril’s road to decentralized finance and Nexo was pretty long and included everything from random encounters in Amsterdam that got him into crypto, spending months digitally hunting down Nexo’s founders, some liquidation blunders, and a lot of latin dancing.

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Kiril Nikolov – A Recipe for DeFi Success by Nexo’s First-Ever Employee

1) Who are you? Describe yourself in a few words.

My name is Kiril. My background is in International Economics, but my passion for growing early-stage startups and emerging technologies brought me to the cryptocurrency space in 2016.

2) How would you describe your digital personality #Meta-Identity? (Ex. Internet Aficionado, Social Recluse, Digital Doggo Freak)?

In human terms, I am ENFP, but – unlike my offline self – my internet identity has been more of a Social Recluse lately. I have been quitely reading Crypto Twitter without ever commenting and participating – watching and observing – for the last five years. So whatever you've been up to on Twitter, chances are I know about it. 😏

Ethereum is at the top of Kiril's list of innovative blockchains. AI art generated with Midjourney by Milko Marinov, Instagram: @eye.vs.eye.

3) You have all the resources you need. What do you want to create?

If we get really ambitious and I have all the resources in the world, I would launch a SpaceX competitor, shoot for the stars and explore asteroid mining, colonization beyond the solar system, and space exploration.

4) How did you get into crypto? What’s your Nexo story?

Boy, this is a long story…well, it was an unlikely chain of events: mostly random meetings and, to be honest, being at the right place at the right time. My first real touch with crypto was thanks to a chance meeting in a bar with Jamie Burke – CEO at Outlier Ventures, Web3 VC before Web3 was even a term. After that, I bought my first coins. I only invested in one project, which I later ended up working for following yet another random meeting in Amsterdam. That first crypto job didn’t exactly pan out long term, but through it, I learned about a new project called Nexo. And this is where the fun part begins:

I started chasing –well, some would describe it more as “pestering,” but hey, it worked out, didn’t it – the Nexo founders every day with cold DMs and emails for two months until they finally invited me to an interview. That was almost five years ago.

5) What is your biggest challenge?

Selecting parts of the cryptocurrency space to focus on while ignoring others, and trusting my team to dig into the areas I can’t get around to and help me connect the dots. There is so much going on in crypto. All. The. Time. It's impossible to keep track of all the developments across the board, so I chose to zone in on DeFi, and I really have left certain aspects – like the metaverse – to other folks at Nexo.

6) What is your biggest failure?

I have many stories to share, but the most…formative…one was my first liquidation on the Nexo platform. One morning, I woke up and realized half of my portfolio had been wiped out because I hadn't been watching my collateral, and my LTV had rapidly gone over the permitted threshold…oops! Lesson learned, big time. In fact, I was probably the first person ever to get liquidated on the platform, and it had been only 2-3 weeks after I’d started working at Nexo.

Ever since I have been obsessed with becoming better and better at collateral management every day and understanding capital efficiency, and generating tips and tricks about borrowing, lending, and yield generation. These lessons are formative in my current role and wouldn't have happened otherwise.

7) How many hours do you sleep?

While I do think I get more than enough sleep in terms of hours, I have this other hobby – latin dancing – which, combined with the 24/7 nature of crypto, often contributes to an irregular sleep schedule.

Alongside crypto and DeFi, Kiril is an avid bachata and kizomba dancer. AI art generated with Midjourney by Milko Marinov, Instagram: @eye.vs.eye.

8) What’s in your crypto survival kit?

Patience, an open mind, and a hunger for knowledge. You gotta have the right mindset and avoid “get-rich-quick” schemes.

9) What coin are you most curious about?

For me, Ethereum remains at the top of the list. The more time passes, the more I understand the depth of its innovation and the philosophical and technical thinking that goes into this network. It’s also what I like to write about.

10) Who’s on your must-follow list on Twitter?

Since I’ve already confessed to being a bit of a hermit on the social media side, I’m gonna say skip, please 😁.

11) Who are you outside of work?

I’m the complete antithesis of my “online,” “world of crypto and Web3” persona. When I’m dancing – be it bachata, kizomba, or any other latin dance – it allows me to fully unplug, one song at a time, from the 24/7 news stream in our industry.

To me, digital assets are…the most efficient economics, technology & personal finance academy in the world.

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