Arthur Baranovskiy’s family immigrated from Russia when he was only two years old. His goal is to build a business empire and become a philanthropist. And at 23-years-old, he is already a serial entrepreneur and has started investing in The Atlas Society.
His entrepreneurial spirit began in high school, when he sold oatmeal pies, at least until school administrators shut him down. Later, he launched his first business while still in college, Gentleman’s Luxury Products, an online store that sold and shipped men’s luxury items, such as ties and watches. The business was burgeoning with potential but had one problem: at only 17-years old, Arthur was too young to legally collect the profits. Though the business eventually came to end, he still carries the license card in his wallet.
Then two years ago, he founded AYB Drafting, a consulting company that provides 3D models for a wide array of clients, including federal and local government agencies, nonprofits, and private sector companies in Washington state, although some clients come from as far away as Idaho and Oregon.
Baranovskiy also recently saw an opportunity and started TC Clean, LLC, a full-service cleaning company serving primarily commercial clients in the Kennewick metropolitan area.
Your family immigrated from Russia. How old were you when your parents came to the United States and what led your parents to make the decision to leave their native Russia?
I was two years old when my family came to the United States and specifically the Tri-Cities area. We became American citizens on Independence Day (July 4) 2008. We were religious refugees aided in our escape by World Relief. Our move was primarily for religious freedom as my family is Pentecostal Christians, and religious expression is considered to be similar to terrorist activity with those who practice being considered enemies of the people. The United States was and still is the best place to ensure religious freedom for my parents.
The United States has also given you the opportunity at such a young age to be an entrepreneur. What are some of the challenges you have faced as a 23-year-old business owner?
My first business eventually had to close because I was too young to legally accept payments, but before that, people would ask, “How did you just start a business overnight?” I would tell them, I came up with the idea, got a license, and just did it. Once that part is over, there’s always the bureaucratic red tape from the government. Beyond that, a lot comes down to your personal life and the people around you. I definitely had to eliminate some friends because they couldn’t support my dreams and were too negative, but that just made room for new friends who I could actually admire. I work really long hours because that’s what it takes to build an empire and to become the best at what you do.
You are also an adjunct professor at Columbia Basin College, a local community college in nearby Pasco, Washington. What do you teach?
I teach courses in 2D and 3D modeling, mass property takeoffs, and the use of three dimensional media across software platforms. Outside of CBC, I teach certification courses for 2D and 3D modeling.
How does being in your early 20s impact your relationships with your clients and students?
People sometimes are skeptical because of how young I am, but they eventually realize that I know what I’m doing and am competent. Most of my clients are older than me and are always just impressed that I’m able to run a business, do the work that I do, and be so passionate. They forget my age sooner or later. My students, meanwhile, are split between those older and younger than me and most are very dedicated, willing to learn, and quickly able to not care about my age but only about what I am able to teach them. Most of my employees are former students that I have hired, some older and some the same age or younger.
So, what’s your long-term goal?
In fact, I want to build an empire of successful businesses that add value to the world and be the next Hank Rearden. Just like he named his metal Rearden Metal, I named my drafting company, AYB Drafting, because I want to be the person who puts their name on their business and is proud of it. Also, being rich isn’t a bad thing, so I want to be that too. I’d like to be able to be a bigger donor to The Atlas Society someday. I’m already investing in The Atlas Society on a smaller level -- but someday I want to be on the board of trustees! And I will be!
When did you first read Ayn Rand?
It was in December 2018 when I was 21 years old. I was working over the Christmas break at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and didn’t have very much to do. I decided to pick up a copy of Atlas Shrugged because, funny enough, it was mentioned heavily in the video game Bioshock. It was also a very long book, and I like a challenge. But I really loved it, and it opened my eyes in so many ways. So shortly after I read it, I did research on the author and read The Fountainhead and We the Living before reading Atlas Shrugged for a second time. Reading Atlas Shrugged gave my life a sense of purpose that I didn’t have before.
What was the response that you got from others about reading Ayn Rand?
After reading, I searched for some Objectivists in my local community and really anybody that was also interested in Ayn Rand. At home, my family wasn’t too happy because they’re very traditional and religious. Ayn Rand talks about achievement and building a profession and adding value. And my family, being religious refugees from the Soviet Union, is just used to going to work every day on a 9-5 schedule and not bringing too much attention to themselves.
How did what Rand warned about in her writing (communism, socialism, totalitarianism) relate to the experiences you had coming from a family of Soviet political refugees?
The first thing is that it’s all true. I didn’t know Ayn Rand was from Russia until after I read Atlas Shrugged, and then I realized that it all made sense to me. It’s because of the government that she talks about that my family wants me to work a sort of traditional 9-5 job. Back in Russia, the only people who were able to successfully run businesses were those that were involved with the government or the mob, and they often were killed or harassed. My family ran away from that and are struggling to realize that life in America isn’t like that at all. It can happen here too if people are not willing to take risks and build businesses and take charge of their lives.
So how did you get connected with The Atlas Society?
When I was looking online for local Objectivists, I found your editor through LinkedIn, and she invited me to YALCON Detroit in October 2019. At first, I was busy running my business, but I boarded my first flight and went to Detroit.
How have you enjoyed being a part of the Atlas Society?
I have enjoyed The Atlas Society, especially the Book Club with Ana Kugler where we’ve read works like Rand Paul’s Case Against Socialism and the Atlas Intellectuals discussion group with Atlas Society’s senior scholar Stephen Hicks Meeting new friends who are passionate about Ayn Rand, like Maeve Ronan and Jessica Josefchuk, has also been a plus. These friends believe in the same thing that I do: the moral purpose of my life is the achievement of my own happiness and that the accumulation of wealth is anything but negative. Through The Atlas Society, I have gained an international network of friends, each of whom is ambitious and incredibly impressive. I can’t be friends with someone I don’t admire - and I greatly admire everyone that I’ve met through The Atlas Society.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.
Thanks for listening and all the great work that The Atlas Society does.