Having grown up in Darien, Conn., Jack Kauffman ’16 quickly became accustomed to the sight of brightly colored sailboats gliding across the Long Island sound. He joined the nautical community in 2003 and as a sailing instructor in 2010, discovered he had a knack for capturing the elegance of the sport through the mediums of photos and videos. Since then, Kauffman has managed to steer his ship full of ideas straight into the business world as a young entrepreneur.
“I realized there wasn’t that great of a media representation with sailing,” said Kauffman, who, in response, decided to independently launch his own business, WildStorm®, LLC, in June of 2011.
The small business began primarily with shooting photos and videos of sailing related events, meshing together his interests in photography, videography, nautical sports and storytelling. Eventually, the business expanded to cover more diverse subject materials, allowing Kauffman to seize a greater variety of opportunities and connections. StillFootage, a subsidiary of WildStorm®, was later added to the line in 2014, specializing in fine print, stock, and event photography.
“My company’s main focus is on corporate promotional work. I like being able to provide clients with a way to tell their stories,” he said.
After entering Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2012 as a media and society major with a concentration in cultural production, Kauffman began making use of his newly established connections in Geneva, aiming to keep inching closer toward achieving business goals. Thankful for all that HWS has brought to the table, Kauffman noted that “the one thing which has been really great is the diversification in classes. The broad range of studies has opened my eyes to different perspectives, which I try to reflect in my business.”
Bree von Bradsky ’16, an anthropology major from Martinsville, N.J., later joined the team in 2013 as chief operating officer after meeting Kauffman in passing through mutual friends. Her proficiencies in Photoshop, film editing, production, and media are valuable attributes toward the success of WildStorm®. The duo has taken on several projects in the area since, including promo and documentary edits for the Seneca7, which included an interview with CEO of Red Jacket Orchards. In addition, Kauffman ran an entrepreneurship club on campus, keeping with the “Aspiring to InspireTM“ motto of WildStorm®.
Most recently, Kauffman traveled to Aix-en-Provence, a village in the South of France, as part of a study abroad program during the spring 2015 semester. Though his business connections “were already somewhat established in Europe,” he covered some more ground during the five month stint. Beginning in 2013, he secured business relationships with a highly influential racecar blog, as well as a floral design company which boasts gold medal awards in Singapore and Chelsea. In 2014, he returned to Europe representing Icarus Sailing Media, a leading media and marketing company for sailing, based in Athens, Greece. Kauffman is currently contracted as the North American representative for the company and its subsidiary, Daedalux. Both companies employ marine photography experts, offering premium photography and videography for various sailing and yachting events.
With a well-rounded set of connections already established across various borders, Kauffman will return to campus this fall for his senior year. He expressed great enthusiasm for the new Entrepreneurial Studies Minor program which the Colleges offer as a new course of study.
“It’s fantastic! I’m thrilled the program has finally come to fruition. I envision that we can use the Entrepreneurship Club as a jumping off point for students who are interested in the minor.” He sees potential for the club to be used as a resource for consultation and coursework help as well.
Looking to his future after graduation, Kauffman plans to continue expanding his WildStorm® business, keeping with his style of incremental growth.
“Right now the move is to continue growing WildStorm® and expanding into new horizons.”
For more on Kauffman, visit his personal website.