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4 Startup Strategies From ZinePak Co-Founder Kim Kaupe The media company founder specializes in providing tangible experiences for major fans.

By Nina Zipkin

Kim Kaupe | Facebook

This company was included in our Entrepreneur360™ Performance Index coverage.

ZinePak, one of our Top 30 Startups to Watch in 2014, is a publishing platform that works with high profile celebrities like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry to create merchandise content and organizes live events for the super fans that they count as their customers. Co-founders Brittany Hodak and Kim Kaupe are just as passionate about music and entertainment and popular culture as their users, and have channeled that drive into 3 million dollars in annual revenue and a successful pitch on Shark Tank that led to a partnership with Sharks Robert Herjavec and Lori Greiner. Kaupe sat down with us to talk about innovation and motivation. Here is some of her best advice and tips for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Related: With More Than $3 Million in Annual Sales, Why ZinePak Decided to Go on 'Shark Tank'

Get uncomfortable.
"I tell my staff all the time, if you're not uncomfortable once a week, then we're not being innovative enough. If you're not scared about something you're pushing to do, we're doing something wrong. I think being uncomfortable constantly is something that you have to do."

Make change happen.
"I think it's just being fed up, or not waiting for somebody else to do it if you really want something…there's this 'they.' 'They'll do something about it,' or 'they'll fix it.' And it's like, who is they? They is like an imaginary being. You are they. If you want to see something or you want a product or a service, it's up to you to make it or create it."
Read more: Want to Innovate? Get Uncomfortable.

Listen and learn.
Kaupe explains that the best networking isn't about future favors, but finding common ground. "It's learning to be able to walk up to someone and say 'Hi, my name's Kim.' And not, what can I get out of you, or what you can do for me. It's more, I want to hear your story and I want to hear your struggle…that's a large part of entrepreneurship."
Read more: Why Business Owners Should Study Improv

Always ask "why.'
Kaupe says that in 2008, when industries like music and book publishing were struggling, she knew that demand hadn't gone down, but that something had changed for the consumer. It's looking for these gaps that lead to real change. "What are they not getting, let's watch and see…if you're going to ask somebody to get in their car to buy something, you better give them something they can't download," she says. "You get the "why' by listening."
Read more: Where Do Great Ideas Come From?

Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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