Finseth wins 7th annual Launch DePaul contest
Published: Friday, April 6, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
After proving himself to a panel of judges made up of successful Chicago entrepreneurs, DePaul student David Finseth won the seventh annual Launch DePaul contest. The contest was put on by the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, March 23.
According to the contest’s website, the winner was chosen based on his ability to “demonstrate the sustainability” of his business.
Finseth has discovered a way to pay the bills. While many of us struggle to finish our homework and make it to our part-time, minimum-wage jobs on time, the DePaul sophomore is going to school full-time and operating his own full-fledged business, Media Revamp.
The company specializes in converting old media to new media. With two current locations – one on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago and the other in his hometown of Lakeville, Minn. – Finseth makes his money by digitizing people’s favorite VHS tapes and old family photographs.
Finseth was one of the youngest contestants who entered Launch DePaul. He opened Media Revamp with two of his childhood friends in the summer of 2010, just after he graduated from high school. What began as a favor to family and friends turned into a real business when they found out people actually wanted to buy their services.
“We didn’t think we had much of a fighting chance,” Finseth said of beating out the older competitors.
But he had something that many of them did not – a real business, not just a model or an idea.
Taking the advice of his mentor from the Coleman Center, Seth Kravitz, Finseth and the other co-founders of Media Revamp, who do not attend DePaul, decided to take the chance and enter the competition.
“When I first met him as an 18- or 19-year-old kid, he already had a business that was paying all his bills in college . . . I was very impressed,” said Kravitz, a successful entrepreneur himself, who co-founded Technori, a company that helps Chicago entrepreneurs succeed.
Like Finseth, Kravitz also began exploring his entrepreneurial skills early on. While attending college at Ohio State in 2004, Kravitz started a web design company out of his dorm room.
Finseth was young when he began his business. He had a good idea and ambition, but he had a lot of knowledge to acquire about the business world.
“I had to learn a lot of skills that I didn’t have really fast and make [the business] profitable,” Finseth said. He read countless books and online tutorials about marketing, web design and other necessary skills.
The business managed to stay afloat. The more Finseth learned, the better it did. When he redid the website, he found that he suddenly had a substantial amount of new customers. Now he’s taking the advice of the judges and looking for ways to better distribute services, keep customers coming back and draw in more local customers.
As Media Revamp grows, Finseth has been asked a few times if he’s in the right college. For now, he is a theater arts and animation student. Perhaps he should switch to the Driehaus College of Business, some say.
“I’ve looked into it,” Finseth said. “I guess I just have this naïve belief that to be an entrepreneur I don’t need to study entrepreneurship.”
Kravitz, who dropped out of college to follow his own entrepreneurial calling, agreed.
“He’s learned more in this past year and a half with his business than he’s learned in the classroom,” he said.
In addition to the wealth of advice Finseth gained from the judges of Launch DePaul, Media Revamp also won $2,000 cash, an individual mentoring session from a prominent local entrepreneur, a company presentation at Technori Pitch, an exhibition table at Tech Week and a potential presentation to a local angel network.
Kravitz believes Finseth’s success and experience points to a promising future.
“He’s going to be way ahead of other students coming out.”