At age 26, Ivy Tech alumnus Jon-Paul Capito has already started a handful of successful companies and is in the process of launching yet another.
In 2003, Capito started his first business, a commercial cleaning company, in order to pay for his education at Ivy Tech Community College−Northeast. His freshman year, he attended classes during the day and cleaned commercial offices at night. Capito said he got so much business that he had to sometimes sleep in the buildings he was cleaning. His sophomore year, he sold the business, putting some of the money toward school and investing the rest in a new company, Mr. Moonwalk.
“Everyone, including my parents, thought I was crazy,” Capito said. “But I saw inefficiency in the market. I found a niche—I grew it.”
Capito has expanded the company from one moonwalk unit to 27 units over a span of six years. He graduated from Ivy Tech−Northeast with an Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing in May 2007.
In the spirit of a true entrepreneur, Capito wanted to explore new opportunities, but he needed help deciding which ideas to pursue. For this reason, he got together a committee of 11 men whom he respected, so that he could “pick their brains” on a bimonthly basis.
After collaboration with this group, Capito then decided to pursue his love of fashion. The result was a line of golf clothing and accessories targeted toward young men, Capito Golf. He ran this company successfully for a couple of years, mainly through online sales and a distributor in Japan. However, when the tsunami struck Japan earlier this year, the company’s distribution was cut in half, resulting in a large amount of unsold inventory. Instead of letting this disaster ruin the company, Capito looked at it as an opportunity for improvement.
“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” Capito said.
As an outcome, a new business model arose. Capito decided as a way to cut back on unwanted inventory, he would pursue the route of customization. DeRossi is his newest business venture, a custom menswear line that is made-to-order. Customers will be measured for fit and then choose each and every detail of their clothing, from the fabric, right down the buttonhole thread color. He plans to launch the line by January 2012.
Though fashion is one of Capito’s passions, he described another as being finance. For this reason, he also currently works for Chicago Weather Brokerage, where he trades rainfall and snowfall options for weather dependent companies, such as Mr. Moonwalk.
Capito gives credit to Ivy Tech as being the base for his business ventures. He said it was the professors here who gave him the one-on-one coaching for becoming an entrepreneur.
“Ivy Tech gave me the foundation and the discipline to go after what I want to go after,” Capito said. “This school put me where I am today.”
As for the future, Capito said he will “absolutely” pursue new ventures. He is already in the process of developing a women’s clothing line. Though it may seem like a lot of work to outsiders, Capito does not view it as that.
“You’ve got to do what you love. Then you don’t visualize it as work,” Capito said. “My story is quite different than most, but it’s what I want.”