Interview with Sue Harnett '90, Founder and CEO of Replay Photos

Interview by Sarah Kate Fishback. Originally published March 12, 2008

We sat down with Sue Harnett of Replay Photos to talk entrepreneurship.  Replay photos restores, digitizes and makes collegiate photography available, and has been open for business since 2005. Here’s what she had to say to about her experience getting started.

You had a somewhat unconventional path to starting Replay Photos.  Can you tell 
us about your trip to the Cameron closet some years ago?

Having been an athlete at Duke, I was well aware of the “closet” in
 Cameron. It was the place where you could go to find a photo to copy for
 your parents as every student-athlete as a career file. One of my Duke
 teammates passed away in a car accident and I went to the closet to look 
for photos of her for her family. While looking through the files, I kept
 thinking that these images were so special for anyone associated with Duke
 who was passionate about all the great players, coaches and moments. What 
if it could be preserved and shared…

At what point did you know you had a real business?

We worked with Duke for a year and then were lucky enough to partner with
 Ohio State and UNC. After signing our third big school, I thought we could
 develop a scalable business model on a national basis.

Your love of sports is what continues to fuel your energy for your
business.  What are some of the perks of working with college athletics?

For me, the biggest perk is the relationships. I have been able to
reconnect with so many people I got to know as a player, as well as 
meeting some great new folks along the way. I have the pleasure of
 visiting some of the most notable universities in the country - I never 
leave a campus without seeing the basketball arena.

What role has Duke played in your business beyond its inception?

A tremendous role. Starting a business with one of the most recognized 
collegiate brands in the country is an invaluable story. The folks on the
 athletic staff have been kind enough to provide great references and call 
some of their colleagues on our behalf. The larger Duke network has been 
tremendously helpful as well. Jay Bilas recently provided an introduction 
to one of his colleagues as ESPN that resulted in us signing a company
 spokesperson. Can’t begin to say enough about the Duke family.

What advice do you have for people who are looking to merge their
 passion with business?

Countless times I had heard folks say that you should follow your passion.
 I never truly imagined that I could create that for myself even though I
 dreamed about it. I didn’t know how I could converge the two, but then I
 stumbled across the “closet”. The idea immediately struck a cord with me
 and I was hooked. It has to truly be something you are passionate about
 because it provides the stamina and perseverance required to translate the 
idea into a business. And here is nothing more worthwhile.


Read more profiles of Duke alumni entrepreneurs