Case Study: A Successful Career Transition for a Local Banking Executive Searching for a Way to Give Back to her Community

Starting a business is one of the biggest decisions we can make in life.  While there are some who will start a new business from scratch, there are many who are more comfortable working with a tried and tested business model.  Depending on where we are, we may not be ready to take on the increased risk and uncertainty that comes with an unproven business model. 

At a recent event in NJ, I learned about a locally owned and operated award-winning online newspaper franchise called TAPinto.  TAPinto is special because it's grounded in the local community and brings the local area's readership, schools, local government and businesses together on an online news platform.  There are now over 60 communities in NJ and the NYC metropolitan area with their own TAPinto. 

Mike Shapiro, CEO TAPinto with Darlene Cullen, Owner TAPinto South Plainfield and TAPinto North Plainfield Watchung Green Brook

Mike Shapiro, CEO TAPinto with Darlene Cullen, Owner TAPinto South Plainfield and TAPinto North Plainfield Watchung Green Brook

I was interested in understanding how these entrepreneurs made the decision to buy and grow their own TAPinto.  The first franchisee I met was Darlene Tedesco-Cullen, a former councilwoman, community leader and seasoned banking executive.  Darlene had a successful career in banking but she was searching for ways to give back to her local community.  She learned about TAPinto, a new kind of local online paper.  She liked what she saw about this affordable franchise and grabbed the chance to claim her community.

In the early days, she worked on this side business in the evenings while also working her full-time job.  Over a period of months, her TAPinto site started to take off so she decided to quit her full-time job and dedicate her efforts to this side business full time.  She used her skills in business development to strengthen existing relationships with her local community and businesses.

She approached her relationships saying, "you trusted me in banking so will you trust me in showcasing your business?"

Community members began approaching her with local stories and engaging with TAPinto online.  Soon after, local businesses wanted to be involved in the online engagement too and approached her for advertising.  She saw the growth potential and purchased an additional TAPinto town paper covering three municipalities in an adjacent county. 

Since launching four years ago in May 2012,  Darlene owns 2 New Jersey TAPinto franchises. She runs TAPinto South Plainfield and TAPinto North Plainfield, Watchung and Green Brook along with her husband Glenn.  While Glenn handles all stories related to sports, Darlene covers just about everything else.

Being a sports-oriented family, they are naturally on top of all sports happenings in these communities daily!  One of her TAPinto sites is the #1 website in Middlesex County!  When I asked her what makes the TAPinto experience so special, she said, "Unlike other franchises, the TAPinto team provides all the necessary infrastructure, holds your hand through the entire setup process and provides ongoing editorial, tech and sales support."

"Owning a TAPinto franchise has given me the ability to give back to my town and generate income on my own terms."

To find out more about this creative business opportunity and to learn how you could start a TAPinto in your local community, sign up here.