Movers & Shakers – Kosta Yepifantsev
What if I told you a podcaster, a multi-million dollar business owner, Russian immigrant, and influencer lived down the street from you?
His name is Kosta Yepifanstev, and at only 33 years old, he has managed to grow a thriving business which employs more than 250 people and simultaneously build a podcast that is rapidly gaining national attention.
At just four years old, Kosta and his family immigrated to the United States via a federal program designed for people of Jewish descent living in the Soviet Union. His grandfather chose to move to Atlanta and the Yepifantsev’s lived with assistance of Jewish community centers while they worked diligently to start a new life. During this time, hard work and dedication were modeled for Kosta by his grandfather who worked as a professor and by his parents who juggled multiple jobs while studying for graduate degrees.
The Yepifantsev’s were soon living the American dream.
“When you walk into a 500 sq ft apartment, and you realize, ‘wait a minute, I can buy a car, I don’t have to be a member of a political party to afford certain things,’the world just opens up for you and you realize in this country, anything is possible,” Kosta explained of his parents outlook on their new life in the U.S.
But higher education did not appeal to Kosta, and the young student only received his GED. To him, hockey was king as the international sport was ingrained in him from a young age by his father. Kosta started playing competitively at 15 and moved to Nashville to pursue his passion further, living with a host family to make training more readily accessible. Despite his love for hockey, after being traded to teams in Oklahoma and playing hockey for a stint in Texas, Kosta felt he was on the wrong path.
“I realized that I wasn’t going to make it to the NHL and there wasn’t any reason to waste anymore time,” he recalled.
With his hockey dreams on ice (pun intended) and feeling like school wasn’t going to yield a tangible outcome, Kosta moved back to Nashville and landed a job at Radio Shack selling batteries and cell phones.
Through networking at pick-up hockey games, Kosta met several people who opened his eyes to the full potential his talent could yield. During this time, he secured a position at Land Rover in Brentwood, TN, becoming the top salesperson and developing a drive to do more.
“I remember telling my dad back then that by the time I was 21, I would be a millionaire,” said Kosta, whose dad laughed it off.
While he didn’t reach his millionaire goal by 21, Kosta’s prediction would eventually come to fruition.
After meeting his wife Jessica while running on a greenway in Nashville, and following a first date at a Predators hockey game, the two became inseparable. “About a year and a half later while we were in the middle of building a house in Belview, Jessica got a call from her dad who made us a proposition,” said Kosta. “He wanted to retire in two years, and wanted us to take over his business.”
They decided to take the leap, both professionally and romantically, marrying in 2011 at the Cookeville courthouse while simultaneously taking over the family business, Home Caregivers.
At the time, the Home Caregivers had roughly 70 employees; Kosta and Jessica set to work laying out their shared long term goals for the business.
“I said, though this is an ambitious goal, I truly believe in this business and through hard work think it can be valued at 10 million dollars in 10 years,” Kosta quipped, reflecting on the whirlwind that was the period of their lives.
While Kosta and Jessica were busy establishing a long-term care empire, they were also busy building a family. The couple had four children over a five year span, prompting Jessica to step away from Home Caregivers.
From here, Kosta hired leaders in managerial roles so he could focus on growing the business in innovative ways. By utilizing his wit and networking skills, he rapidly built a residential housing program unlike anything the state of Tennessee had seen before.
“To prevent elderly people from having to go to nursing homes, we rented houses and placed three people with similar needs in each home and provide around the clock care,” explained Kosta.
This inventive idea worked.
Over the next several years, Kosta built relationships with state legislatures, eventually getting a bill passed that pays the majority of the cost for the caregivers in his program.
“From there, we were able to scale so fast,” said Kosta. They took the business from 70 employees, to over 250 (to date) and saw an increase in year-over-year sales of $7.5 million. Currently, Home Caregivers operates 37 homes in the Upper Cumberland region, servicing more than 110 individuals who would otherwise be in nursing homes.
As is often the case with entrepreneurs and successful leaders, Kosta has several other projects he is passionate about. He launched his own podcast network in 2020 beginning with the self-hosted debut program, “Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev.” This podcast highlights individuals making an impact in the Upper Cumberland and includes more than 100 episodes to date. Working closely with his producer Morgan Franklin, Kosta also launched a long-term care strategy podcast called “Now or Never” whose goal is increasing awareness to this vital industry inevitably impacts every American life at some point. Impressively, “Now or Never” is currently the number one long-term care podcast on Spotify and Apple podcasts.
At the end of the day, Kosta’s passion for educating Americans on long-term care goes far beyond his successful business. Through free podcasts and youtube videos, Kosta hopes to provide life-changing information to today’s youth. “The sons and daughters of the elderly are embracing technology and looking for solutions for their parents,” explained Kosta. “There is an 80% chance you will need long-term care after the age of 75, and unfortunately, most people do not plan ahead for the expense.”
Although Kosta has achieved many of his goals, at 33 he knows the ceiling will continue to rise. He is currently planning to transform the caregiver space by utilizing technology to relieve some of the human element, making it possible for vastly more people to afford and receive the care they desperately need.
As mentioned, Kosta is anything but a natural student. However, he recently added a degree to his name, graduating from Tennessee Tech in the fall of 2022 with a Bachelor’s in Political Science.
In addition, Kosta also graduated from Leadership Putnam’s program in the spring of 2022. As a board member for diversity and inclusion and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as an investor of Highlands Economic Partnership and Jere Whitson Elementary, he gives of his time, energy, and talent to positively impact the lives of those who call Cookeville home.
Kosta Yepifanstev has become not only a respected member of the community, but a shining example of what the American Dream really looks like.
– by Chelsea Dartez, photos by Cris Stroud, styled by Seth Overton