Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Entrepreneurship Speaker Series Features UVI’s 13D Founder

13D Founder Kiril Sokoloff 
The University of the Virgin Islands 13D Entrepreneurship Speaker Series has brought many influential and successful business minded professionals to the University. On Dec. 5, investment strategist, entrepreneur and philanthropist Kiril Sokoloff shared his success story and imparted advice on UVI’s St. Thomas Campus. The event was teleconferenced to the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix.

 Sokoloff created the 13D Entrepreneurship student competition and the Kiril Sokoloff Distinguished Professorship in Entrepreneurship in the School of Business. In 2011, Sokoloff pledged to donate $5 million to UVI. He committed to donating $1 million to the University over a five year period.

On Friday, Dec. 5, Sokoloff shared the knowledge of his journey in life and as an entrepreneur. “Adversity is the best teacher,” said Sokoloff to a packed room of UVI students, staffers, and entrepreneurs. “To be an entrepreneur you have to understand adversity.”
UVI President David Hall and 13D Entrepreneurship Speaker Kiril Sokoloff  speak at round-table discussion
He said that his life has been defined by his deafness. Sokoloff currently uses a cochlear implant and is clinically deaf without it. Before he had the implant, he was faced with the choices of giving up or choosing to become stronger. “I pledged that I wasn’t going to give up,” he said. “I was going to fight to the end. I decided that nothing would keep me from living a normal life.” Sokoloff said even though he was deaf he participated in every meeting and every client call.

 “Deafness made me who I am,” he said. “Deafness threw me down below the waterline many times – molded me, toughened me, softened me, shaped my character and the way I look at life. I will never know what kind of person I would have been had I not lost my hearing, but I certainly would not be the person that I am today.”

Sokoloff founded 13D Research, Inc., an independent institutional global research firm, in 1983 with $25 and his office was in his attic. He kept the overhead for his business low with no obligations. Sokoloff said that he learned to push away destructive negative emotions and to hold a laser like positive vision for successful outcomes.

On Friday, he offered a few words of wisdom. He advised entrepreneurs to keep their fixed cost low and make sure that their customers are truly interested in their product. Sokoloff also suggested that entrepreneurs keep an eye on their cash flow, competitors and the market, and to think strategically.

13D Research, Inc. is currently based on St. Croix. Previous speakers in the series have included best-selling author Dr. Dennis Kimbro and business woman and philanthropist Loida Lewis.