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From dream to reality: ECNUer’s journey as a young entrepreneur


Since June 2020, 4 cohorts of outstanding students from Asia Europe Business School (AEBS) have successfully completed their studies, entered top universities at home and abroad for further studies, or worked in large and medium-sized enterprises, striving towards their ideals.  

AEBS has always paid close attention to the development of each AEBSer, and showcases their rich and colorful life trajectories in the form of "Asia Europe Excellent Alumni Tracking Report". By conducting interviews and sharing their stories about overseas studies, and experiences of graduates from AEBS in a new environment, we aim to help students clarify their future development plan and direction.

Piliasov Prokhor

Alumni of Bachelor Program of Asia Europe Business School

Co-founder and CEO of Meilin Auto

Hi, I'm Piliasov Prokhor. During the last two years, I have had the pleasure of being the business owner of a small international startup called Meilin Auto. It's the retailer of premium Chinese EV brands such as Lotus, Lixiang, Zeekr, Avatr, and so on. Together with my Chinese business partner Lawrence, we run offices in Moscow, Chongqing, and Minsk.

Piliasov Prokhor and his Chinese partner

Challenges vs. Opportunities in my entrepreneurial journey

The last two years have seen considerable changes in the global environment. European and American automakers have pulled out of the Russian car industry, while China and Russia's trade and economic ties are getting closer. This gave me the inspiration for a business idea while I was studying in Shanghai. After a series of efforts, Meilin Auto has become the first automotive dealer outside the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to register a subsidiary on the Russian market and begin vehicle sales to local customers.

We began with nothing in 2023 and ended up having over $7 million annual sales. As we learned at ECNU Asia Europe Business School, conducting business internationally is about learning new things every day, despite all the challenges. One of the most significant lessons I've learned from my study experience is the need for openness and continuous learning, which has helped me approach chances and problems with composure and reason.

In fact, the most common issues in almost every startup are sourcing and finance. My company was not an exception. After researching a successful MVP among our competitors, we decided to go straight and start selling. We signed our first contract in the 8th month of building the company, and that was one of the most remarkable days of that time. Following the first contact, we easily connected with a couple of Chinese VCs, gained popularity among Russian customers, and moved to the most innovative industrial park in the country, Skolkovo. As a great addition, top TV channels including РБК AUTONEWS, AUTO.RU, MOTOR.RU, 5КОЛЕСО often ask us to give some comments on Chinese EVs development in Russia, which is very helpful for us to increase our visibility in the market.

Piliasov Prokhor interviewed by Russian media 


Launch conference of Meilin Auto App

My experience at Asia Europe Business School

It's been a bit more than half a year since I graduated from the ECNU Sino-French BBA program. Basically, the reason I've chosen AEBS is my personal preference in terms of education level and plenty of outdoor business activities. AEBS was co-founded by East China Normal University and emlyon business school. It has major advantages in cross boundary talent development.

In 2019, I had been considering many universities in Shanghai, for my bachelor's study. However, while visiting the brand-new campus of AEBS and meeting its great faculty (credit to Ms. April), I made the decision for myself. Its goal of developing the next generation of global business leaders and Belt and Road ambassadors by fusing excellent management practices, a strong sense of social responsibility, and Eastern and Western knowledge is in line with my long-term goals. When I started my business during my third semester of graduation, the institution and its staff really helped.

Unfortunately, my offline campus life was not so long, as half a year later the COVID pandemic hit Shanghai and our classes continued online. On campus, we've done plenty of activities, combining studies guided by professional faculty with extracurricular events. Here are my warm thanks to Christy, Nikola, Feifei, Xuejing, Webber and many other professors who kindly taught us during the BBA program. Studying at ECNU AEBS was such an amazing experience for me, where I structured my business knowledge, found many international friends, and explored rich Chinese culture. That led me to understand China from many sides and to love this wonderful country and its people.

My advice to younger international students

As it worked well for myself, first, I could suggest learning Chinese language and culture as much as you can, so it can broaden your horizons and make strong connections with Chinese friends and business partners.

Second, make the most of the outdoor opportunities provided by your university. For our class, there were field study projects with local businesses, chamber of commerce events, visiting CEOs, mentorship programs, and many others. These activities brought me relevant business knowledge, practical skills, and valuable connections.

Finally, it's essential for young entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and believe in themselves, even if there are plenty of failures along the way. However, it is worth noting that many of the mistakes could be overcome more easily by gaining knowledge at my beloved university, Asia Europe Business School.

Author: Piliasov Prokhor

Liaison: Qi Cai

Copy editor: Wenting Chen, Philip Nash

Editor: Mei Xia, Wicky Xu