Valeriya Minaeva took a risk when she moved from Russia to Rotterdam for her Communication and Media programme. She was eighteen years old. Her parents had financial troubles, so she had to come up with the 7,000 euros per year in tuition fees herself. It was money she didn’t have and didn’t know how she was going to pay.

At that time, she had a full-time communications job at a Russian blockchain company. She was able to continue doing that remotely, earning around 1,300 to 1,500 euros per month. In Rotterdam, she paid 800 euros for a shared flat. “In my head I was constantly thinking about how I would pay for everything. I didn’t go out and I spent as little money as possible. I tried to save every cent I had left for my tuition fees.”

The first few years in Rotterdam are a contrast with what would happen later on. At the end of her second year, Valeriya received a message via LinkedIn. An American blockchain company she had never heard of asked if she would be interested in handling its marketing and PR for an initial one-off payment of 7,500 dollar. “The blockchain world is very small,” Valeriya explains why the company chose her of all people. “Because of the high compensation, I asked two acquaintances to help me.” She set up a business and the American company became a regular client. This brought in 7,500 dollar to Valeriya’s brand-new business every month.

Since then, Valeriya’s company has grown into a six-figure business – earning a total revenue of 100,000 euros or more – with seven employees across the globe.


“Making money is no longer the main goal now that I can provide for my basic needs,” Valeriya says. “I no longer worry about paying my rent. Instead I focus on creativity, people and travelling the world.”

She owes her success in part to her structured planning. In recent years, she has lived according to a tight schedule. She was also willing to put her social life aside. While other students were making friends and lounging at the park, Valeriya was usually working at home. “The support from professors was essential. It wasn’t so much that they helped me with my business, but many of them gave me the freedom to focus on my pursuits outside the university,” she says. “And it’s a good thing they did. All students are on their own after they graduate, so it would be crazy to limit our development while we’re at university. “

The lesson she learned: ‘The people you know the least can have the biggest impact.’ If Valeriya hadn’t received a message from the American company, her life would have turned out very differently. She urges people to boldly choose the unknown. “Your family and friends will not seriously change your life. Strangers can do that.”

The future

Despite the fact that making money is not her main goal, Valeriya would like to earn 1 million euro per month in the future. “It’s about the game. Then you also get the chance to help others and create opportunities for them. I’ve never actually thought about the impact that billionaires have, but I’m convinced that we could all be Elon Musk someday.”

Income: between 15,000 euros and more. “Every month is different.”

Rent & utilities: That was 1,700 euros for an apartment in Beurs. “I don’t know if I’ll go back to Rotterdam. I cancelled my rent and now I don’t have a permanent place.”

Groceries: “I’m chaotic with my finances. I don’t know how much I spend on food, but I never cook. That way I save time. I order food twice a day.”

Eating out/going out: “I like going to good restaurants.”

Worst purchase: “I regularly sign up for courses because I want to keep learning, but then I don’t have time and I don’t show up.”

Last major expense: “A handbag that cost 2,500 euros.”

Saving for: “I’d really like to buy a house for my mother someday.”

Absolutely does not want to cut back on: Food

Investments: “They’re currently worth about 200,000 euros. Those prices fluctuate and I don’t worry too much about the dips on the stock market. I invest for the long term with money that I can afford to lose. I also invest in cryptocurrency, but I don’t give advice about investments.”

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