Launching and operating a company is never easy. In fact, only 2 percent of women-owned companies ever make more than a million dollars. So what makes a success story rather than a failure? Disruption in the industry, which is exactly what Kim Kaupe and her business partner Brittany Hodak did with the launch of ZinePak in early 2011.
Short for magazine packages, ZinePak is a marketplace of collectible pieces of memorabilia for super fans of an artist or a brand. The platform allows artists to connect with fans and bundles limited-edition albums with exclusive tracks, a glossy booklet with interviews and photos, and unique merchandise such as posters, temporary tattoos and stickers.
The company is a collaboration of Kaupe and Hodak’s career experiences. Kaupe, who is originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, has a background in publishing, and Hodak, from Oklahoma, in music. After more than two years as a coordinator at BRIDES magazine, Kaupe felt she needed the potential to expand creatively. “I didn’t tell my parents at the time,” she says, because it was a huge leap to give up a salary for an idea—albeit one worth believing in.
“Bringing together magazines and music was the answer to a lot of questions that people were having, especially in the retail space, and also how to make physical music relevant again. [We looked] at the birth of Spotify, Pandora and iTunes and realized people aren’t consuming entertainment less, they’re just consuming it in a different way. The physical world isn’t having that same level of innovation as the digital world,” says Kaupe, who was one of Forbes’ 2014 30 under 30 in the music category, Inc. Magazine’s 35 under 35 and won a University of Florida Outstanding Alumni Award in 2014.
ZinePak flourished in a big way. Its revenue was more than $3 million in 2014 and it continuing to grow. The company produces album packages for everyone from the Beach Boys to Taylor Swift and Disney’s Frozen franchise. Their vision is to expand even further. Kaupe is inspired by empire builders like Jimmy Buffet and Colonel Parker, who, she says, “have gone so beyond the music” and into the worlds of merchandise, restaurants and even amusement parks. Kaupe hopes to mimic that success by expanding ZinePak into every genre that has super fans. Think sports enthusiasts, Comic Con goers and even Scandal viewers. In late April Kaupe and Hodak appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank and accepted a deal.
Of course, success goes hand in hand with giving back. Kaupe participates in The TJ Martell Foundation (cancer, leukemia and AIDS research) and Andrus Family Fund (social justice). She also works to help change that 2 percent stat by participating in activities such as Carrie Hammer’s Role Models Not Runway Models and volunteering for Junior Achievement. “If girls [only] see are male creative directors, then it’s hard for them to envision being [in that role],” Kaupe says. “How do we reach out to young women? How do we let them know that we’re real and their success is possible?”