LOCAL NEWS

Journey from Ukraine orphanage to Utah entrepreneur

Mar 19, 2018, 6:45 PM | Updated: Apr 27, 2018, 10:08 am

SALT LAKE CITY – At a posh downtown Salt Lake City hotel, Vitaliy Kirkpatrick stood up before an audience of venture capitalists and asked them for a half-million dollars. Just a few years ago, the scene would have been unthinkable.

Kirkpatrick sounds like he almost doesn’t believe it himself.

“I don’t know how I moved up,” he said.  “I don’t know, is just so quick, 14 years, but is still so quick.”

Kirkpatrick grew up in Ukraine. His mother went to a hospital to give birth, he says, and then just left him behind. He spent his childhood in the orphanage and then a foster home. He had no money, at times, no home, and no future.

“I didn’t think about the future, just the present day,” he said. “Every day was a present-day, had to live day by day.”

After he aged out of foster care, he befriended a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints and the missionary’s family helped bring Kirkpatrick to Utah.

Here, he earned a computer science degree and an MBA, found work as a technical salesman and, he says, started thinking like an entrepreneur.

He recalled one Christmas in Ukraine he went caroling for candy and spare change. He earned enough to buy a television, but because of his foster mom’s lights-out policy, watched the TV under a blanket with the volume almost muted.  Wouldn’t it be great, he thought at the time, if there was a way he could listen to the TV with headphones.

Years later, he developed Wi-Fi technology to do just that, to listen to a TV or computer through a smartphone or tablet, and created a company called Clovitech, named after the Ukrainian words for “cool” and “technology.”  He invested his time and his retirement savings.

He got help from the University of Utah’s Lassonde Center and then from VentureCapital.org, formerly the Wayne Brown Institute, which invited Kirkpatrick to pitch at the Investor’s Choice Conference, the longest-running venture capital conference in the country.

Entrepreneur Vitaliy Kirkpatrick pitches his business idea.

VentureCapital.org’s Brad Bertoch says what makes Kirkpatrick a good entrepreneur comes from his years in Ukraine – his willingness to take chances.

“He has really no concept of risk,” Bertoch says. “He’s been at risk his entire life and that means nothing to him because that’s just how life is. The risk of putting together this business isn’t overwhelming as it is with many people.  You’re not worried about what’s going to happen because it’s not getting any worse.”

When Kirkpatrick talks about how far he’s come, his voice cracks and his eyes glisten.

“I can’t believe if you only saw, I could show you later some of the pictures like where I used to sleep. I used to sleep with no basically heating and I had to bundle up and mold everywhere,” he said. “Is just where I came from to where I am. I never forget.”

Vitaliy Kirkpatrick became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2017.

While Kirkpatrick waits to hear if venture capitalists will fund his idea, he’s  already found a new home in Utah.

Late last year, Kirkpatrick took the oath of allegiance and became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

A local mutual aid grassroots organization, the Coconut Hut, has been providing those who are homel...

Brianna Chavez

Grassroots group aids those unsheltered during extreme heat

A local mutual aid grass roots organization, the Coconut Hut, has been providing those who are homeless with water, other items, and tools.

3 hours ago

Family, friends and those who worked closely with an American Fork couple who died this week honore...

Shelby Lofton

‘We stand with them:’ Community members rally around family of American Fork couple found dead in murder-suicide

Family, friends and those who worked closely with an American Fork couple who died this week honored them with a candlelight vigil Sunday night. 

3 hours ago

The Utah Department of Transportation confirmed potential heat damage to Riverdale Road caused lane...

Emma Keddington, KSL NewsRadio

Riverdale Road sustains heat damage, causes lane closures

The Utah Department of Transportation confirmed potential heat damage to Riverdale Road caused lane closures on Sunday evening.

5 hours ago

(Salt Lake City Police Department)...

Emma Keddington, KSL NewsRadio

Man arrested at airport in connection to Salt Lake City homicide

Police arrested a man Sunday afternoon at Salt Lake City International Airport in connection to a homicide earlier this year.

6 hours ago

A father and son are safe after being rescued from a river up Little Cottonwood Canyon on Sunday. (...

Mark Jones

Father, son are OK after being rescued from river in Little Cottonwood Canyon

A father and son are safe after being rescued from a river up Little Cottonwood Canyon on Sunday.

6 hours ago

A fire in West Valley City at Redman Van & Storage. Fire officials say the fire spread to an adjace...

Emma Keddington, KSL NewsRadio

West Valley City grass fire spreads and destroys four semi-trailers

A shorted powerline caused a fire that spread to a structure in West Valley Sunday afternoon. The fire appeared to be located in the lot of Redman Van & Storage.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Journey from Ukraine orphanage to Utah entrepreneur