James LePage ’22 on fusing a side hustle and your passion, with a healthy dose of trial and error

student in a jacket and tie

It’s inspiring to hear of people who start their own business when they’re 20.  For those who started a business at 18, or 16, it is an even more impressive when it comes to chasing your dreams at a young age. The story of James LePage ’23 is yet more stunning.  He started his own business at only 14.

Originally from Westchester New York, Le Page hasn’t always been focused on entrepreneurship. Studying real estate in the Martin J. Whitman School of Business, he had his sights on a fulfilling real estate career. When he was s16, he received an internship as a leasing agent at a commercial real estate company in New York City. He worked there for a year and a half, perfecting his formal sales training and falling in love with the corporate environment of buying and investing in buildings. He discovered in he was brilliant at real estate, and certain that this is what he wanted to focus the rest of his career on and that he had found his life passion.

But when he was 14, before he discovered real estate, he had been working in a kitchen at a local restaurant.  Quickly growing bored, he began searching for new ways to make money. Astutely observing the world around him, he realized that a widely needed skillset lay in web design. LePage knew nothing about web design at that point. But with determination and natural ingenuity, he taught himself how to design web sites completely from scratch. He began to build clients simply by asking friends and family if they needed website help.

“I realized I’d much rather be on my computer making money,” LePage joked.

His sheer will to create his own source of income turned into a highly successful, well-networked business known as Veles Creative where he began to create websites for real estate agencies and hedge fund investment websites.

While successful, LePage viewed his website company as his side hustle in the midst of his pursuit of his true passion, real estate. But when COVID-19 struck, he found himself cooped up in quarantine, and his perspective on the potential of his website business changed. “In the pandemic, what are you going to do? Are you going to try to do something?” He asked himself.  “In the pandemic, businesses need a website and if it’s poorly designed, your whole business could be at risk of losing customers.”

So, over the summer LePage threw himself into rebranding his business into a sleek web design service: Isotropic Design.  Now highly successful with a large network of clients and its streamlined design, Isotropic is looking to hire fulltime. For LePage, his company isn’t a step away from real estate but rather a duality of passions where the skills of design and salesmanship he’s learned from both have shaped him into a highly skilled entrepreneur.

Through his studies at Syracuse, LePage came to find a home in the entrepreneurial community of the Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars at Syracuse University as well as the Entrepreneurship Club and Real Estate Club. This year, LePage is joining the LaunchPad as a Rubin Family Innovation Mentor, working with other student entrepreneurs.  

His tenacity in creating a company with completely self-taught skills bears witness to an essential skill of entrepreneurship: repeated trial and error.

“I know a lot of things because I’ve messed up a lot of times,” LePage admitted with a laugh. “I think that should be an unofficial motto of anyone who’s an entrepreneur.  Learn from mistakes.”

LePage’s success in anything he sets his mind to – whether that’s design, entrepreneurship, or real estate‑ testifies to his resolute creativity and tireless entrepreneurship.

Story by LaunchPad Global Fellow Claire Howard ’23; photo supplied