Just 18 years old but with a track record of a man several years his senior. And not only because of his Sporting career, where he has already garnered compliments from the European and American press thanks to his performances there, but also because of his life as a young businessman involved in the Tech world where he has managed to combine his two greatest passions: Sports and Entrepreneurship. Here we tell you his story.
At the ripe old age of 18 years, Nicolás “Nico” Pino is becoming the talk of the town on the Motorsport world: In 2022, his first full season in the European Le Mans Series, he ended as a Runner-Up and is starting this new year with his second outing in the 24 hours of Daytona, where he managed his first “Pole” on the LMP3 category racing for the Sean Creech Motorsport Team, but despite this achievement Nico remains atypically calm for such a young Driver.
Despite his success on the track, Nico is also raising a buzz for his activities outside of it, particularly for the way he’s built up his career, with the mind of an entrepreneur rather than a classical sportsman.
At the young age of 8 he got behind the steering wheel of a Kart for the first time and since then he has never stopped. “I’m one of seven brothers”, he says while explaining his life in a family with separated parents. Nico is a sociable kind of guy, despite being a bit introverted, and talking to him feels more like having a chat with an engineer or a businessman than a racecar driver. That may help to explain why LinkedIn has become his main social network site, developing his Brand and persona as an Athlete, businessman and tech entrepreneur, blazing his own trail towards becoming a leading figure in one of the world’s most competitive, expensive and complex sports.
From Karting to his first business.
“My entire family is very enterprising, it’s like a contagious virus” says the young Chilean Ace.
He made his Karting debut aged 8, and by 10 he was already racing in Europe after stints in Argentina and the USA. He had forays in WSK and FIA as a 12-year-old Junior and by 13, and now as part of a Factory Team, he relocated to England with friends of his family. “We decided on England mainly for a formative thing, to improve my English and also because of the sporting culture there”. Once there, he exploded onto the scene with his debut on FIA-F4, racing in the British F4, GT, F3 Euroformula Open and finally LMP3 prototypes, where he finished as a Runner-Up on the European Le Mans Series (ELMS).
“Nothing has come easy, free or given. Everything I’ve achieved has been the result of hard work in and out of the track, and maybe that has also helped me to build my character and temper”, acknowledges Nico Pino, who has managed to combine his natural curiosity for understanding how things work with his passions (Sport, wellbeing, kids and Talent development) becoming something that for many may seem impossible: being an Elite Athlete and a Tech Entrepreneur at the same time.
His first venture was creating a Marketplace for used Karting pieces when he was 11 years old. “I sold next to nothing” – he laughs - “But it made me realize that with hard work, discipline, rigor and method, you can go forward”. We had no budget and we had to achieve something, anything, so I started befriending the Startup developers that were around my father’s office”.
The point of inflection came in 2019, where a wave of protests and social unrest in Chile coupled with the beginning of the COVID pandemic made his sponsors back out with their support. “I had to do something to keep going. It was either start something up or I would’ve had to stop racing”, says Nico, who remembers a lot of people telling him to quit, but far from doing that, he decided to carry on from England: “A lot of people told me to put myself a “Stop Loss”, but I never really got to grips with the concept, and if I had done that we surely wouldn’t be having this conversation now. To me, the “Stop Loss” goes too close to the “Stop Try”, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to stop trying. I wanted to race, compete, win, learn and now, I had to venture to stay on the Track”.
Nico: Crypto and Blockchain Mode On.
Back then, Nico was underage so he couldn’t sign his own legal paperwork. But, as he tells us, “When I turned 18 on 2022, that finally changed, Now I am a partner in all of the societies we created, it had been previously agreed that that was how we would proceed and now I am a Natural and Tax-Paying person”.
In Sporting terms, Nico Pino has an operations company to move his career forward, named “NP78” after his Race Car number, with a large team behind him, as well as all necessary tools to qualify his Sporting career for tax breaks, and his image and economic rights are the property of a USA-based Company of his founding.
It is in this side of him that Pino created Csport, a tech platform based on Blockchain technology and Smart Contracts that seeks to give support and financing to Sporting talents throughout the world. The young Driver is the main partner, and he already has both a working team and investors, while the company has been graded by a Singapore-based Startup accelerator. “We built a solutions ecosystem, that allows Athletes to add value to their careers together with their fans in a Game-fi, Social-Fi and De-Fi Dynamic. Sadly, because of all my commitments and agenda I can’t be the CEO, because that is a full-time job, so right now I am the CSO, which means I’m still involved in every aspect of the company, and I have a blast doing it”, Nico Pino tells us.
His opinion regarding the Crypto world, and all the recent scandals that have happened within it, is forceful: “Blockchain and the Cryptographic world will begin penetrating deeper when it is truly connected to the real world. Sports and Athletes are an excellent natural bridge towards that goal”.
All this structure isn’t spontaneous or the product of happenstance. Back in early 2021, while in Milano for different meetings with European businesspeople, Pino made the decision to go further in his dalliances with the Blockchain and Crypto worlds, studying projects and getting into the recently appeared NFT’s. “I met a lot of people in this world through LinkedIn, learning how to trade with money that we in Chile could withdraw from our own pension funds during the pandemic, and with that I paid all my races for 2021 and in a few months had made 15 times what I had started with” he says, with a beaming smile.
Pino has a particular affinity and closeness with children with Special Needs, because of his younger brother, whom he affectionately calls “Titín”. “If I achieve what I’ve set myself out to do, I will pour it all in favor of kids with Special Needs. Athletes inspire, everything they do can create extremely high-value content, and that also makes us be responsible for a lot of the things we create and inspire in our environment”, reflects Nicolás Pino, Professional Race Car Driver and Tech Entrepreneur.
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