I’m Just Like Anyone Else
Oleg Yurievich Tinkov
I’m Just Like Anyone Else
Dedicated to my father,
Yury Timofeyevich Tinkov (1937 2002), miner in the Kuznetsk Basin
and to Rina Vosman’s father,
Valentin Avgustovich Vosman (1935 2006), Estonian Miner
Just like anyone else
Dear reader, this book has been written from my heart and soul. I don’t mean to tell you what to do or to show off, but to tell you the story of my journey of the last 42 years.
Those of us who were born between the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s are very fortunate. Our time fell within a time of revolution—on the boundary between socialism and capitalism. I’d like to use my biography to give an account of this dramatic period in our country’s history. This book is not meant to be educational, then; you would be mistaken to see it as such. I had no such goal in writing it.
But to him who has ears: let him hear. I’ll be happy if my experiences are helpful too. Smart people always learn from the mistakes of others; they seek out what other people’s lives have to offer. Please learn, then, and find answers to your questions.
I repeat, though: this isn’t a book on how to create a successful business. It’s not a self-help book and it isn’t a set of teachings—it’s just my life described.
I initially agreed to write this blurb for Oleg's book because I like him and his family enormously. Having read it I can see how useful it would be for aspiring entrepreneurs in Russia to read. Here's a man who literally built an empire from scratch without the help of handouts from Russian residents or family! He shows the way for the new entrepreneurs of the future!
Richard Branson, Virgin
From the Editor
When I was working as a journalist in St. Petersburg, I covered financial topics only. Thus my work never brought me into contact with Oleg Tinkov, who was an electronics salesman, frozen food producer, and owner of a restaurant on Kazanskaya Street. Sometime around 1995, however, I was made aware of this ambitious businessman and was amazed at how rapidly he was changing the game.
In 2002, I moved to Moscow and began working as Editor in Chief for Finance magazine. Having made its entry into the financial markets, the company Tinkoff now posed a business-related interest. This restaurant chain, with nine million dollars in revenue, had somehow managed to release 13 million in stock, with the goal of expanding its bottled-beer production. Hype was built up through the company’s ingenious advertising campaign—with the slogan “One of a kind”. I began to follow Oleg’s actions closely and in early 2004 asked him for an interview. He agreed, and that’s how we met.
At this point Oleg was already involved in what he refers to, in this book, as “speculation.” He began construction on a large brewery. The beer market was already fully saturated, however, and so not an easy place for a small player to stay alive. At the same time there were powerful players that would be able to buy out a new factory. What if they didn’t buy? Intriguing. I was interested to see what Oleg Tinkov would do next.
When I found out in 2005 that Tinkov had sold his company to Belgian InBev for over 200 million dollars, I immediately thought that the history of such a success was worthy of a book. At that time Oleg was busy with his cycling team and, in 2006, he told be he was starting a bank, Tinkoff Credit Systems. His business model was an original one. At that time there were no exclusively Russian credit card companies. To be honest, I didn’t believe the project would be a success (you can’t be successful every time you enter a new market). The fact remains, however, that by 2009 the bank’s net profit had reached nearly 20 million dollars.
In 2007, I offered Oleg a weekly column in Finance magazine. He agreed to write it. At the same time I reminded Oleg about the book idea. I even sent him a first paragraph: “On the 14th of September, Oleg Tinkov came back from a two-month international tour where he had enjoyed his status as the owner of a cycling team. When he arrived at his office, the first thing he did was go to the massive aquarium by reception to find out how his fish were doing. He was sad to discover that one of the babies had been eaten by one of the larger fish. There were still grounds for optimism, though: after all, the rest of the babies had reached maturity and this meant their safety was now all but secured. Tinkoff Credit Systems was like a little fish in the credit card market.”
After reading the paragraph, Oleg commented that it was an “intriguing opening,” but said that he wasn’t worthy of a book yet. If, somehow, he should sell the bank for a billion dollars, then that would merit a book. There is no point in writing about a businessman without his participation in the project: there could be little exclusive material. Appreciation goes to Virgin founder Richard Branson who, on more than one occasion, pushed Oleg to write his autobiography. One way or another, in the summer of 2009, Oleg saw the light. By the end of August, in the first instance by asking for my help, he had started working on the book. Six months later work drew to a close and in March we submitted I’m Just Like Anyone Else for publication. Here it is. I’m sure that every reader will find something of value in it.
Oleg Tinkov and Oleg Anisimov working on I’m Just Like Anyone Else on the island of Elba