YEC member Mark Kilpatrick describes himself as a “a small town kid from Stevenson, Washington who went off to play soccer in college and study as a graphic designer.” But he’s also the co-founder and chief product officer of Urban FT, a financial services company that provides a digital banking platform to over 700 clients, the majority of which are community banks and credit unions. He was recently selected by his alma mater, Barry University, as a distinguished alumni. And he’s a 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 winner in the Enterprise Technology category.
We checked in with Mark to find out what he’s working on, how he has built his success, and what inspires him. Here are his thoughts:
On His Work With Urban FT
Being able to empower the “underdogs” of the financial service industry by encouraging them to challenge the status quo has been the foundation of Urban FT. We have built a digital banking platform, X35, that has allowed small- to mid-sized banks to deliver service, functionality, and UX that not only competes with, but in most cases, transcends those offered by the larger, more dominant institutions. As of today, our platform actively powers 700+ clients to break through the status quo barrier and emerge as digital banking champions.
We have also been able to leverage our platform to power bespoke user-driven solutions. The most exciting use-cases for me are those that are delivering a solution to underserved communities and consumers, with a focus on increasing financial literacy and health. Being able to sit at the intersection of financial institutions, consumers, and business and deliver empowering and inclusive solutions has been the most rewarding part of my journey with Urban FT.
On Finding Success
I gauge my personal success based on the impact I have had on those individuals, institutions, and communities around me. Having found recognition of any sort in my life is not a validation of success so much as a challenge, or maybe even an obligation, to elevate myself and leverage my platform to impact everything around me, continually working to become the best version of myself. I do believe that in order to achieve this and continue to grow, I must first be successful in finding personal balance, peace, and health. I evaluate the success of our business (and my commitment to that success) based on the impact that we have on the lives of others.
I believe three key elements have helped me succeed:
- I have made a habit of not just networking, but connecting people, at every possible opportunity. To some degree I’ve always had a desire to do this, but now it’s become a characteristic that’s formed the foundation for my success, opened doors, and guided countless individuals within my network.
- I have always believed in leading by example and working hard, especially when nobody was watching. I make a habit of living with integrity and being accountable to myself. This has guided me to take ownership for everything in my world and encourage those around me to do the same.
- I’ve constantly surrounded myself with a strong group of mentors. These key individuals have acted as a personal board of directors who have guided me through my professional experiences, helping me to navigate challenges and maximize positives. Having these individuals mentor me has been invaluable and I am so thankful for their impact on my life.
I have learned that not only can I withstand an incessant barrage of challenges presented with an endless array of circumstances, but enjoy the process of solving those challenges. In business, things rarely (if ever) go according to plan, which creates a general sense of chaos that you must sustain in what can feel like perpetuity. Simply put, starting and running a business is not for the ‘faint of heart’. It takes a special level of grit (a characteristic I now know I have) to survive and embrace it wholeheartedly. These experiences have helped mold me into a strong business leader with a desire and capability to mentor others who are charting their path.
On Giving Back
Urban FT has just hit stride, so that will remain my primary focus for the foreseeable future. That said, there are a number of projects I’ve been working on in addition to Urban FT:
- For the last few years I have co-organized an adult soccer league on Roosevelt Island (my residential community, tucked between Queens and Manhattan), but am actively looking at effective ways to be more integrated and engaged in my community.
- As co-president of our NYC Alumni Chapter of my alma mater, Barry University, I have been working on a number of initiatives. My goal is to provide more resources for existing prospects, existing students, and alumni in the coming year.
- In the last half of 2018 I started to engage with organizations in my hometown community of Stevenson Washington, exploring ways to help guide students as they consider ‘what’s next and how should I approach it’.
The three communities above have helped shape me over the last thirty years, and I want to give back in the same way they’ve given to me.
I find inspiration everywhere. Throughout my life I have been involved in, or currently belong to, multiple communities: Stevenson, Washington, Barry University, Roosevelt Island, Urban FT, and FinTech to name a few. Those communities as a whole, and the people within those communities, have largely inspired and influenced who I have become. The thought of forming deeper ties in those communities excites me beyond belief. I believe in living an inspired life.
What's on your desk beside your computer?
I am a huge geek, so a massive BB-8 Star Wars Coffee Mug. I also have a Lion’s Club paperweight from my grandfather.
What are you reading right now?
Shoe Dog, Phil Knight’s memoir on creating Nike.
Place you’d most like to visit?
Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos)! My wife and I will be touring the region during most of January and part of February.
Right now, I’d have to say Mac Miller. Having listened to his evolution through the years, I’ve enjoyed both the trip down memory lane and the maturity that he gained toward the end of his career. At 26, he was lost too soon (September 7, 2018).
Best day of your life?
On August 10, 2017 in Brooklyn, NY, on a beautiful summer day, I married my best friend, Emily Kilpatrick. Having married someone who I admire, genuinely look forward to spending the rest of my life with, and serves as a consistent support, made the day unforgettable and easily the best of my life.