RedBox Founder Shares Journey

Students and community members packed the Peplow Pavillion Center to hear a notable entrepreneur’s secrets of success in business.
Hosted by the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Co-Founder of Redbox Michael Delazzer spoke of his journey to put his idea on the market in the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center Nov. 13.
“If it was easy to become successful and wealthy, everyone would do it,” Delazzer said.
Delazzer got started in 2001, when VHS tapes were most popular. A salesman he met suggested that he join the DVD rental business.
“It was bothering me all night thinking about it,” he said. “I went to Blockbuster with my son in a line of 20 people, and after five minutes I [impatiently] yelled, ‘Somebody should put you out of business. I’m going to put you out of business.’”
The original idea was to build a small kiosk in airports so that travelers could get a movie. Noticing how pleased people were with the convenience and quickness of an ATM, Delazzer put his plan into action.
Within a half hour, the entire project was designed, and four machines were built and installed in the Chicago area. However, at that point in production, Delazzer ran out of money.
Almost was almost $90,000 in debt, but pressed on.
“Sometimes success requires you to be insanely devoted to a task,” he said.
A member from the McDonald’s Corporation showed up at his door looking for an improved model, as other machines were falling apart.
Delazzer was tasked with building a smaller model that was production ready in a matter of eight weeks, and then traveled to North Carolina to pitch the final product although it was incomplete.
“It looked liked a really nice red refrigerator, but it didn’t do anything,” he said.
Delazzer negotiated an extra 24 hours to improve the system’s software, and when the McDonald’s Corporation members came back the next morning, the machine worked. Delazzer said the investors were impressed.
“If I wouldn’t have persevered at the moment of failure, they would’ve been gone,” he said. “Never give up. Never give in.”
Students in attendance said they found the speech to be encouraging.
“It was very inspiring,” senior political science major Bernard Payne said. “For entrepreneurs, it really gives them hope.”
Other students said they enjoyed his personality throughout the speech.
“I liked how personal it was, and how he shared his emotions,” senior psychology major Alessandra Morbidelli said.
According to Delazzer, the main key to be successful is to master hope and fear.
“Hope is the side that creates amazing things in the world,” he said. “Fear is the lazy guy who does nothing with his life. Fear is the easy way to go. Hope is the hard way.”