The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Young entrepreneurs defy odds to create successful startup


CDs and magazines: two fun forms of entertainment that seem to be getting killed off by iPods and Kindles. However, two young women—Brittany Hodak, 27, and Kim Kaupe, 25—have figured out a way to combine the mediums and turn them into unique and exciting packages that sell.

‘ZinePak, created by Hodak and Kaupe in 2011, works with clients to develop a bundle of merchandise for super-fans. A typical ‘ZinePak, although all vary depending on the client, includes a 64–120-page custom magazine with original content about the entertainer or event, a deluxe edition CD or DVD and other collectible merchandise that could range from stickers to a fan club membership. ‘ZinePak works closely with their clients, which include The Beach Boys, Justin Bieber, KISS, Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift, to ensure the final product is completely original and special for fans.

The duo formed their idea while working together at an ad agency. Hodak had a background in music from working at Sony, while Kaupe had experience working in the publishing industry. “We weren’t able to be creative and act quickly on our ideas. So we decided to branch off and go,” said Kaupe.

Hodak and Kaupe’s decision to start their own business occurred at low time in the economy. The team was motivated to prove their friends’ and families’ worries were wrong. “If there was ever a time to try to fail it [was] now,” said Kaupe.

The girls had a clear plan on how and where they wanted to begin. “We first reached out to Walmart. They said yes. That was the catalyst to start the company,” said the co-founders. “It was our opportunity to prove ourselves and take this opportunity to do a great job.”

Consumers have spent $20 million on ‘ZinePak products, and they are expected to spend an additional $15 million before 2013 ends. They reached the one million-dollar revenue mark in just one year, something fewer than 2 percent of female-owned businesses accomplish. Their achievements have not gone unnoticed. Some of their accolades include being a top 20 finisher in Wall Street Journal’s “Startup of the Year” competition, being named to Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 list, and being included in Entrepreneur’s “Top 30 Startups to Watch.”

Hodak and Kaupe had never imagined being highly ranked business owners while in college. “I took an entrepreneurship class [in college] and I actually thought it was a lot of work and wondered why would anyone want to do this,” said Hodak. However, after becoming frustrated with the corporate world and having to pay dues, Hodak and Kaupe knew it was time to be their own bosses.

For students looking to develop their own businesses, Hodak and Kaupe have some advice. Discovering if there is a market for your idea is an important step in the process. “There is a difference between a great idea and a great idea that is profitable,” said Kaupe. “Figure out if there are other people out there who want that product and service.” Hodak suggests working in corporate America for one year. “You learn so much about corporation. You see things that you hate and are crazy boring,” she said. “It is a time to understand political in-workings of a company and it’s a great way to get an education and get paid for it.”

The young women are not slowing down anytime soon. ‘ZinePak started with music but is now expanding to sports, movies and other areas of entertainment. The company is also expanding its configurations in creating iBooks and ticketing projects.

You can find most ‘ZinePaks on Walmart’s website,, or in stores. Katy Perry’s Prism ‘ZinePak will be released on October 22, and Duck Dynasty’s Duck the Halls will be available on October 29.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Greyhound Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Young entrepreneurs defy odds to create successful startup