29-year old Manhattan Park resident Mark Kilpatrick was awarded a spot on the Forbes “30 Under 30” list for 2019 in the enterprise technology category. Kilpatrick describes his work in financial technology (FinTech) as “serving the little guy” – in this case community banks and credit unions. He serves the little guy outside of the office as well, and is active in the Roosevelt Island community, including co-leading the Roosevelt Island Football Association (RIFA), a men’s soccer group that practices a couple of times a week and plays weekend games.
As both co-founder of FinTech provider Urban FT and its chief product officer, Kilpatrick drives product strategy from concept through to research, UI/UX, and design. Urban FT provides a digital banking platform to over 700 clients. FinTech is a new industry that uses technology to improve activities in finance and aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services.
The actual award wasn’t the only benefit Kilpatrick received from Forbes. He says the award process “was one of the coolest things I’ve ever been through. It forced me to think about a lot of things I wouldn’t have had to otherwise;” acknowledging that it did the same for Urban FT as a company. “We came up with a new way to position the company. It forced us to decide how we want to explain this to people because we need to really get this storyline right.”
Ultimately, the prep work for the Forbes award helped them launch their new product, the X35 platform that at the time, they didn’t have a name for. Their goal was for their clients to still have the X factor in 2035 “even in ways we haven’t thought of yet.”
Kilpatrick says his company, Urban FT has always been about serving the little guy, those that don’t have the capabilities that others would. They have just over 700 clients, the majority of which, about 80%, are small and medium sized businesses. After two acquisitions, they have a large presence in Minneapolis, staff in California, and are headquartered at 48 Wall Street in New York.
Emily and Mark Kilpatrick
Until the ferry service commenced in August of 2017, Kilpatrick and wife Emily were commuting to their Wall Street headquarters by subway. Joking that “a lot happened to me in August 2017,” because it’s also when he got married, Kilpatrick calls commuting by ferry, “life-changing.” He says it hasn’t cut down on his commuting time but appreciates that the ferry is consistent. “I am never wondering if the ferry is going to come, like I did with the train.”
Emily Kilpatrick has been with Urban FT just over two years. The couple met in college, and has been together for eight years. They moved to Roosevelt Island six years ago, but Kilpatrick had been here once before. At age 16 he visited his older brother who lived in Manhattan Park, at 40 River Road, in a large soccer field-facing apartment with a bunch of other interns. The large living room was split into a bedroom for his brother; similar to what is currently occurring in Manhattan Park today with its robust student population.
“My brother had the room that looked down on the soccer field,” he recalls. Kilpatrick played soccer on that field for the first time at 16. “It was still grass back then. A thumpy grass field.”
Soccer has played an important part of Kilpatrick’s life for awhile, and even paid for most of his tuition at Miami’s Barry University. His Alma Mater won their first national championship this year, two weeks ago. “Such an amazing feeling.”
When the couple first moved to New York from Miami, they lived in Kew Gardens in Queens. A former soccer teammate of Kilpatrick’s from college lived at 405 Main Street and introduced him to the guys who were then leading the outdoor men’s soccer group. He joined the group and “I came out here to play soccer. Indoor two nights a week, outdoor once. It was tough on a Saturday or Sunday morning getting up and getting out here with trains.”
Ultimately he and Emily moved to Roosevelt Island. “We came straight to Manhattan Park just because I knew it. This Island has always felt so amazing to me. We moved in and have been here ever since.”
Kilpatrick now leads the men’s soccer group, RIFA, along with fellow Manhattan Park resident Miguel Pincay. Since the closure of the Octagon Field the group has had to limit practices to twice weekly at Sportspark. “We tried to go up to Randall’s Island in the fall. We did get a permit up there. It wasn’t what we thought it would be. It was hard to get people up there. We decided not to go that route. We’ll just do indoor until the field opens up again. We do Saturday and Sunday morning.”
RIFA Celebrates the end of their summer season and Charity World Cup Tournament
He says about 200 players have come through their group with about 30-35 currently active members. They’ve done two summer charity tournaments. This last one they aligned with the World Cup and raised over $2,000 for South African non-profit Treatment Action Campaign, chosen by the winning team, the continent of Africa. “People really come together for stuff like that.”
In the past they have also sponsored a senior in high school at South Bronx United, a youth development organization that uses soccer to engage immigrant and first-generation youth to support the broader South Bronx community. “We’ve tried to use the network to do some cool things,” he says noting that those types of events have always been done using the Octagon Soccer Field, “It would be much more challenging with just the indoor space.”
Kilpatrick grew up in Stevenson, Washington, a town with about 1400 residents. About the Island, he says, “This is the closest thing to Stevenson, Washington.” He says it’s hard to go out and not see someone that you know, acknowledging that “small towns get a bad rep but a lot of cool things happen when that’s the case.” The community feel of the Island would be a tough thing for the Kilpatricks to walk away from. “Now, we couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in New York City. We like to think it’s our secret.”
In the future, Kilpatrick says he be would interested in representing Manhattan Park in the Roosevelt Island Residents Association. ”I place so much emphasis on giving back to my three communities, Barry University [for whom he runs the New York Alumni Chapter], Stevenson, and Roosevelt Island.” He believes in meaningful action. “Being more involved in the community here is something I’d like to find a way to do, whether it be RIRA or the fields. I don’t ever want to be the person who's questioning or wondering about something but didn’t get involved to advocate. I’ll be keeping an eye out for ways to do that.”