Second-year southpaw pitcher and 21-year-old Orange Coast College student Dominic Purpura can often be seen dominating hitters on the baseball diamond, but behind his sweat-stained cap and No. 31 jersey is a businessman who has learned the ins and outs of creating and maintaining a business.
Last year, Purpura and some friends decided to create a website and service called Wazood for college campuses to help students find textbooks, roommates and housing.
“Basically, it’s a Craigslist for each individual campus,” Purpura said. “You can find housing, roommates, textbooks and tutors on there. Say if you wanted to sell a couch or bed when you graduate and are moving, you can post it on all the campuses and local schools in your area.”
Purpura and his friends developed the idea through a ping pong table that was sitting in their apartment taking up space. They wanted to sell it, but they wanted to sell it to a student at OCC instead of Craigslist because they knew a student at OCC would love to use a ping pong table.
“It was at that point we realized that it could be used for books and definitely for housing,” Purpura said. “A lot of students at OCC can post on there if they are looking for roommates because there is no other system for OCC students to find roommates and link up together.”
Purpura built up former business experience in high school and his first year at Coast trading stocks and bonds.
“I finally built up enough money to where I was like ‘I know the knowledge so I want to utilize the money I made for something that will be useful for people,’” Purpura said. “So that’s what I did. I took the money I built in the stock market and built Wazood.”
Not only did Purpura launch his business at age 19, he has maintained it while being the college’s baseball team’s relief pitcher and all around go-to guy out of the bullpen.
In 13 appearances (12 out of the bullpen) and 43 innings this year, Purpura has posted a 1.67 ERA allowing just eight earned runs on 42 hits and five walks.
“Dom is very hard-nosed, and he knows what he has to deal with and goes after it,” head coach John Altobelli said. “He is very business-like on the mound and very well-prepared and a great competitor.”
Altobelli added that Purpura is a sharp kid on and off the field and that he is always thinking about things in a business sense.
“He is very dedicated and determined,” Altobelli said. “I think he could be good at whatever he does if he sets his mind to it and he has proven it on the baseball field and now in the business world.”
Purpura plans to play at a four-year college and already has several offers.
“He is going to have a Division 1 scholarship and have a couple good years of college baseball and hopefully start Wazood,” Altobelli said. “Hopefully he will go make millions of dollars down the road.”
To progress his business, Purpura partnered up with students at other colleges at various schools in the Midwest and East coast such as Vanderbilt University and University of Miami.
“We all helped create it,” Purpura said. “I’m the president and it was my idea. I basically did all of the main components, but they helped me put things together.”
Wazood was launched at about five schools to begin with, but because Purpura knew so many people at OCC and because of the baseball player’s advertising of it, it took off at Coast the fastest.
“Right now we’re at over 50 campuses which is pretty cool, but we are slowly expanding,” Purpura said. “We have an investor that would even like to get involved. We just have a lot of ideas of ways we can help students, even more that we want to implement into the site so we’re just taking it piece by piece right now.”
Purpura admitted that he didn’t start this for monetary reasons at all.
“I just wanted to give a cool system for all the students at OCC to help everyone out,” Purpura said. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to do something that helps people out and gives them a free service to use. I thought of that idea and realized not only could this be great for my teammates and friends, but for everyone at OCC to use and utilize.”
The money that Purpura makes through Wazood is put directly back into the site, whether it is marketing money or for site upgrades. They have partners with a few local companies such as Fairview Textbooks.
The demand for the site varies depending on what time of the semester it is.
“In the middle of the semesters it’s kind of slow because there is not a lot of people buying and selling things in the heart of the semesters,” Purpura said. “I would definitely say I put a very large portion of time into the website.”
The website is completely free for anyone to use.
“We want every student to utilize it,” Purpura said. “You see people posting on Facebook all the time that they are moving out and looking for a new roommate and no one knows where to go to have access to all that information so it’s basically an online bulletin board for the students.”
Purpura added that he has learned so much from Wazood but one thing in particular sticks out.
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from starting Wazood is time management,” Purpura said. “Me being 21, I started Wazood when I was 19 and there isn’t a business I can’t start anymore. I know the ins and outs and how to start one from the bottom up. I know everything that needs to go into it at this point.”