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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Students sell thriving company to new owner

UW-Madison student entrepreneurs recently sold the leading student ticket exchange network, ExchangeHut, in a successful acquisition by CDI America and Daily Jolt.  


Nathan Lustig, Corey Capasso and John Tucker bought ExchangeHut their freshman year from founder and UW-Madison alum Matt Stamerjohn. Capasso said he and his partners sold to a larger company that is still a good fit.  


Tucker and Lustig decided to buy the company after losing the Badger football ticket lottery their freshman year. The business venture panned out over a game of poker, where he and Lustig finalized plans to bid for the site, and the two later teamed up with Capasso.  


Going into it we didn't really expect to make money, we were just in it for the experience,"" Tucker said. ""We were inexperienced businesspeople, but it worked out really well."" 


After business picked up, they took advice to enter the Burrill Business Plan Competition and placed fourth. From the competition, the partners earned $1,000 to put toward expanding their service to other Big Ten universities. 


Lustig said managing demanding classes with a successful business was sometimes challenging, but depended on the seasons. Lustig, Capasso and Tucker worked 40 to 50 hours a week during busy ticket seasons, but only 10 to 15 hours other times. During their ownership, they raised the ExchangeHut website from 2,000 users to roughly 150,000 users.  


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Joseph Boucher, business school senior lecturer and attorney at Neider & Boucher, answered initial company questions on accounting, legal issues, taxes and negotiating sales.  


Boucher said the students were successful for many reasons - including patience, persistence and smarts - but particularly for their ability to listen to advice.  


""The reason many people fail is they don't listen or take advice, and they don't work hard enough and they aren't patient enough,"" he said. ""These guys did all of that.""  


Lustig said students will not see any drastic changes in the business or the website.  


""If you haven't noticed anything yet, it's a good sign. It's been a pretty seamless transition."" 


Tucker said the team benefited from the hands-on experience the company provided.  


""There are definitely a lot things we'd do differently, but it was a great time. We would definitely do it again, no questions asked,"" Tucker said.

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