|Nashville entrepreneur 'Finagles' way to Internet Summit
|Published November 17, 2009
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Very focused, but very low-key, Nashville IT and Internet entrepreneur David Repas manages to get through a lot of doorways.
Now, the quiet 37-year-old from Nashville is attempting nothing less than disrupting the world of online advertising.
Repas' mild demeanor gives no hint this is the same fellow who, ten years ago, at 27, sold sold to Gaylord Entertainment an award-winning Country portal, Countrysong.com, which he had launched just two years earlier.
Repas recently returned home from Raleigh, where he and 1,200 of his closest friends gathered for the Second Annual Internet Summit, sponsored by Southern Capital Ventures and TechJournalSouth, both based in Raleigh.
During the Internet Summit, Nov. 4-5, he demonstrated his in-development Software as a Service (SaaS) product, Finagle, which is to be offered via Repas' Nashville-based start-up, Finagle Incorporated.
Repas (at left) explains that Finagle "allows users to discover products, places and services by viewing advertising" that is presented via the ads-only media-rich Finagle website (not yet public).
Repas is preparing for a capital raise, with an eye toward launching Finagle next spring. Repas said that while challenges loom, "Now, I'm actually going to take a moment," and think through plans, once more, to ensure that despite pressures to build momentum, the experiences of both advertisers and users will be excellent.
Repas told VNC the Internet Summit effort was high-energy and "definitely worthwhile," with Finagle attracting interest from both prospective advertisers and potential investors.
Repas was in a field of 13 companies chosen to exhibit – the only presenter from Tennessee – making his second formal sortie into investor territory.
Perhaps ironically, two years ago, when Repas was the only Nashville presenter among 14 companies mustering for Knoxville's Tennessee Valley Venture Forum, the Finagle business model was very different. At that point, Finagle aimed to provide visitors an "ads-free" environment, with robust media and strong production values.
After a lukewarm reception at TVVF, Repas decided his original business model was flawed, rethought it and made a 180 turnabout.
The change of course was prompted, he said, by asking himself such questions as "What can I do that can really change the landscape of the industry?" and "What if I could create a place where people wanted to see ads?"
Reoriented Finagle now aims to create value by transforming ad content from the much-ignored "nuisance" many online visitors consider it, into "a place where people actually come to see nothing but advertising."
Finagle, said Repas, now invites consumers to "shout out" to advertisers, "Pitch me! Persuade me! Advise me!" by using text, video and other features to create a robust interactive experience.
Repas is guarded about the details of his business model, but told VNC there'll be no charge for consumers and no charges for advertisers to upload ads. There will, however, be active bidding among advertisers in specific categories for higher page-rankings and visibility within Finagle. Repas said he's very curious to see what strategies different advertisers employ to differentiate themselves from competitors, in terms of offers, style, rankings and other variables.
Repas' current income comes from several ventures, including independent IT consulting; Verberate LLC, which offers a platform for communications between performing artists and their managers; Sprout LLC, a software incubator; and, Netwurk LLC, which provides web hosting and some custom development work for such customers as CMT.com.
Netwurk involves a partner: Todd Cassetty, who is also founder of Hi-Fi Fusion, a full-spectrum digital marketer targeting the music industry.
Except for about two years inside Gaylord's digital-media division after selling Countrysong.com, Repas has been self-employed since his youth. In 1994, he earned a bachelor's in business at Susquehanna University (Selinsgrove, Penn.). Repas and his wife, Gina, live in Nashville with their infant son. ♦
|Tags: CMT.com, David Repas, Finagle, Gaylord Entertainment, Hi-Fi Fusion, information technology, Internet Summit, Netwurk, SaaS, software development, Southern Capital Ventures, Sprout, TechJournalSouth, Tennessee Valley Venture Forum, The Cloud, Veberate, venture capital