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Publication Founded by Mark Vittert '69 and John Burkhart '28 Turns 30

May 9, 2010

IBJ Covers.jpgMay 9, 2010, Greencastle, Ind. — The business relationship of two DePauw University graduates from two different generations led to the creation of the Indianapolis Business Journal.  In his weekly column, Tom Harton, the current editor of IBJ, recounts the role Mark Vittert '69 and John Burkhart '28 played in launching the publication 30 years ago.

"The relationship between Vittert and Burkhart started more than 40 years ago," Harton writes. "Vittert was a senior at DePauw University and a member of the Phi Psi fraternity. His ambition was too big for the classroom. He wanted to start a business -- and he had an idea. He thought consumer products companies would jump at the chance to get their merchandise in the hands of a new generation of consumer. There were no smart phones or iPads, mind you. No Google, no ChaCha Mark Vittert.jpgor Facebook to connect with potential customers. But there were college kids, and those college kids could hand out samples and subscription cards and the like to other college kids on campuses throughout America. Vittert was passionate about his idea. The problem was he didn’t have the money or know-how to get started. But he did have the gumption to introduce himself to someone who did. He had heard of John Burkhart, a DePauw Phi Psi from 40 years before, and knew he ran a successful insurance company in Indianapolis -- College Life. Burkhart agreed to talk to the brash, young Vittert about his idea. Burkhart’s decision to support the company, which was given the simple but descriptive name College Marketing, paid off. Eighteen months later, Playboy Enterprises, looking for a premium service to offer its advertisers, swooped in and bought it. The Vittert-Burkhart relationship was sealed."

The editor notes that a decade later, Vittert decided to start a new John Burkhart 28.jpgventure, and the Business Journal was born.  Vittert and Burkhart sold the publication in 1986.  The column tells of how Vittert recently paid a visit to the venture he started.

Harton concludes, "Thank you to the John Burkharts of today, who take the time to listen to and demonstrate their faith in younger generations. And thank you to Mark Vittert and all those like him who follow through on their ideas and end up putting people like me to work."

You'll find the complete text at IBJ's Web site.

John W. Burkhart is enshrined on the Media Wall of Fame at DePauw's Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media.

Learn more about Mark Vittert, who was recently inducted into St. Louis Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists' Print Hall of Fame, in this previous story.

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