Stanley Boots, co-founder of Silta Finance, delivers a unique world view to his projects. He believes that every decade should bring a personal change whether in the form of career, country or viewpoint.
And Boots is a man who is following his own advice with zookeeper, lawyer, independent beer brewer and crypto entrepreneur all career titles under his belt. Oh and advocate for sustainability is his passion.
He began his career as a conservation biologist after gaining his first degree in biology and earned his zookeeper certificate at the Bronx Zoo (Wildlife Conservation Society). Well, more accurately, he worked in the education department of the zoo, attracted by the more than 170 global research projects that were in flow.
“I wanted to be in the field observing animals but to proceed I would have needed to get a PhD. As I wanted to run my own environmental organisation, I needed the extra qualification but I also didn’t want to have to spend my life after that writing grants. I liked the animal side but I was weak on analytics.”
Boots spent four years working at the Bronx Zoo but as he looked at his doctorate options, it was then that he also formulated his world view which would serve him well and take him into many adventures. He was also fascinated by climate change and scifi – he wanted to be flexible in his future career.
So, instead of becoming a doctor in biology, he segued into a JD (juris doctor).
“Without the pressure of having to practice law afterwards, I had a ridiculously enjoyable time. This was learning for learning’s sake – not for my impending legal career.”
In grad school he got the nickname as the ‘guy with the crate of books’ as the internet hadn’t yet proliferated and he wanted to consume huge amounts of information. And despite his best intentions not to practice law, his family persuaded him to sit the bar anyway. It might have been due to the $200,000 that it cost to get the degree, but either way, Boots said he’d give it a go. Of course, he passed the exam first time. Now what?
Boots had spent a couple of years in Tokyo in his early twenties which he loved and put his name into a recruitment site for legal jobs in Asia. The ‘what next’ was a call out of the blue from the largest energy company in Korea.
“Going inhouse to a traditional oil company did not impress my environmental law professor but I thought this would be a way to understand traditional energy thinking.”
It was a very tough time for Boots. The work practices were extreme by western standards. He was expected to work long hours but then also to go out every night till the wee hours with his work colleagues to bond. The company was doing some $12 billion a year of transactions.
“It was hell, but it also was a great training ground. I lasted for two years before transferring to an English Law firm, where I found my skill sets were perfect for forging new segments.”
As it happens, while Boots was assigned to project finance teams focused on energy, he saw a gap to pursue his passion and began supporting a Japanese utility that was buying carbon credits. This was new territory.
“When people asked me about my job at this stage – I would tell them it was like discovery channel for lawyers.”
By focusing on renewable energy projects, Boots was able to use his legal and financial skills to work on projects he actually believed in. However, while eschewing the life of a biological professor ever writing grants, he ironically ended up as a lawyer writing proposals .
The ten year auto renew plan was slightly skewed because of the legal success. Boots needed to balance his life to remain true to his personal vision. He loved his legal finance work for renewables but wanted to shake up a world view.
So Boots did what Boots does best – he bought a 160 year old rice farm outside of Tokyo and taught himself how to farm rice and to live a sustainable life. He even persuaded his legal firm to sponsor education on the farm where he partnered with a local orphanage to provide rice and education. He also brewed his own beer on his farm.
Next stop Vietnam where Boots was invited to help the Vietnamese government negotiate a deal with an American developer on the largest project financing then undertaken in the country. This was followed by a legal job offer in Hanoi.
“I really liked the country, loved my work, and it was then that I decided I needed to fix the beer problem.”
The beer problem was that Boots found local beers did not suit his palate. And in true Boots style decided to set up his own brewery.
“We also created a zero-waste brewery on purpose with water going through a wastewater system, through a biological reedbed and ultimately into a pond full of fish and wildlife. And the pond then waters our organic garden where we grow speciality plants such as peppers that are used to flavour our beers.”
Boots also has plans to create a DAO from the brewery which will support employees with five plus years of tenure to start their own businesses.
Back to the current ten year plan – Silta Finance. Boots knew his co-founder Ben Sheppard as they both worked in project finance in Vietnam. When Sheppard explained the Silta Finance project, Boots was all in.
“I am passionate about Silta as it is a first of its kind project to connect the liquidity of the crypto markets to impact projects needing funding. Prior to Silta, the barriers to access finance were just too high. Now, with Silta we can look at impact projects, apply a really robust project finance analysis, give them a score, get them rated, bring that score online and connect the successful projects to liquidity in the crypto markets.”
There is another powerful kicker in the Silta evaluation process. Silta has included the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) from the UN and asks each project to nominate which SDGs they will deliver – and how. Actual measurements will be captured and then minted as an NFT, with the original NFT acting like a gauge. As the project continues and more measurements are achieved, including making payments on time, the gauge goes up. As everything is recorded on the blockchain everything is transparent and successful projects will be rewarded for these results.
“Traditional infrastructure finance has so many barriers to entry and so many middlemen. Silta Finance really sticks it to the man. We will be empowering the network contributors. This is Web 3 at work.”