2020: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for Entrepreneurs

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”


– Sir Richard Branson


For Alexander Zelinsky, CEO of Velvet Platform and Chairman/Member of Board and  Co-founder of PayPugs, two up-and-coming Fintech platforms, this is a statement he can relate to very well. 


His entrepreneurial passion is evident in the ventures he has been part of and the team dynamic that he actively encourages.


Nurturing a business is in Alexander’s blood, his first company was registered in his mother’s name when he was just 13. From a young age he thrived off of responsibility and routine, this also evident when he decided to join the military for a period in his life.


The Notorious 2020 and its Challenges


When Covid struck, both the Velvet and PayPugs teams could continue working and there were few interruptions in the development process. But for Alexander there were challenges both mentally and physically during this time. 


Alexander enjoys the disciplined, orderly routine he’s accustomed too, and sudden restrictions and changes worldwide made this impossible. Where he previously enjoyed working from home and from an office, during the pandemic this arrangement was no longer comfortable. Even his precious pets became a source of annoyance. He found his mood to be affected and his productivity threatened. 


Alexander normally thrives on the interaction among his colleagues. He finds intrinsic value in being able to connect with team members on tasks and to problem solve quickly and effectively together, and found having that freedom taken away to be  difficult — an experience that many people have had to cope with over 2020.


Alexander shares what got him through and ultimately what he did to mitigate the frustrations he experienced.


  • Being disciplined and taking breaks from time to time.
  • Taking time out to ‘be at home’ and doing tasks that took his mind off of the situation.
  • Exercise, even 10 minutes, helped to reinvigorate a fatigued mind.
  • Learning to delegate tasks effectively to ensure the job gets done.
  • And very importantly, connecting with his network and community, through work and personal connections.

The 2020 Boom of Freelancing and Startups


The pandemic and the economic pressures accelerated the freelancer and startup sector in 2020 with many people turning to providing for themselves during this uncertain time.


Freelancing itself gives you the freedom to find best practices and collaborators, it requires dedication, discipline and prioritizing in order to successfully get the job done.


Alexander understands this balance in a freelancer’s life and that priorities such as payments and vetting of partners are not always top of that list, and that is in part the inspiration behind these two digital services platforms.


The hardest exercise is to simplify things, and that is Alexander’s mission in life as well as in business and the solutions they provide.


Happy Employees Equals Happy Working Environments


He draws inspiration from any source he can find, and for him happy employees are a very high priority in his organization. It impacts how they work and the quality that they deliver.


He’s already seen the difference of implementing something simple like new employee benefits. Investing in others impacts how much they want to give back.


Alexander’s final take-away – the best thing a leader can do is to hire the best person for the job and not control them, but instead move them in the right direction. 


By having this approach in a business it gives the organization the opportunity to be creative while adhering to business objectives, and then you create a powerhouse of innovation and collaboration.

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