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Janine DiPaula Stevens is a Baltimore entrepreneur and former owner of Vircity, a business services firm she sold last month.
Janine DiPaula Stevens is a Baltimore entrepreneur and former owner of Vircity, a business services firm she sold last month.

The failure of Janine DiPaula Stevens' first company led her to her successful business, helping fledgling enterprises get off the ground.

Last month, after 11 years, DiPaula Stevens sold that company, Vircity, which provides businesses and nonprofits with administrative services such as bookkeeping, event planning, printing and graphic design, to two other female entrepreneurs.

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"I want to do something new for the next 10 or 11 years of my life," she said. "Vircity doesn't need me anymore. I need to put my creative energy into something new — a new project, a new adventure. I can't tell you what that is right now, but their are so many opportunities."

Before Vircity, DiPaula Stevens ran several smaller companies. She started her first in her early 20s, focusing on marketing strategy for other small businesses. But it didn't last long.

"You have to realize that you are going to be successful at some stuff and not at others," she said. "You have to have the courage to stumble along the way and continue."

One factor that may have contributed to her first entrepreneurial misfire, she said, was how much money she spent to set up the company.

"I didn't need to spend all of that money or to fill out those complicated documents," she said.

Her big takeaway was that startups needed help navigating paperwork and completing other small services.

"In some way, that is where I got the idea to start Vircity," said DiPaula Stevens, 40. "I wanted to help the people who were doing their own startups. It shouldn't cost an arm and a leg."

DiPaula Stevens and her husband, William Stevens, also created a caffeinated gum called Power Play Energy Gum, which they sell online.

"That was just another one of our adventures," she said.

DiPaula Stevens also served as president of Network 2000, a Baltimore-based leadership program that mentors and promotes women in business. She was also president of the Baltimore chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

DiPaula Stevens has occasionally taught undergraduate and graduate classes in marketing at Notre Dame of Maryland University since 2006. She and her husband also have taught classes in entrepreneurship there.

"One of the most important lessons I teach my students is to never burn a bridge," she said. "You might not like the job you are in or your career path, but you never know when you need to cross back over a bridge. Two of my clients in Vircity were past employers."

Janine DiPaula Stevens

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Job: Entrepreneur

Age: 40

Previous job: Director of marketing and membership, The Center Club

Education: B.A., Notre Dame of Maryland University; MBA, Loyola University Maryland's Sellinger School of Business

Residence: Canton

Birthplace: Baltimore

Family: Husband, William Stevens, and Labrador retriever, Sadie

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