As captain of the Tartan football team, Chad Zimmerman was always looking for ways to improve his athletic performance.
But he found a gap in media sources offering the kind of expertise he sought.
That sparked an idea-turned-business-plan and led to the launch of his company, STACK Media.
STACK is the nation's leading producer and distributor of sports performance, training and lifestyle content for active sports participants.
The company's online presence reaches as many as 6 million users on a monthly basis, while the magazine boasts a readership of 5 million, and is requested in two-thirds of the high schools in the United States.
The biggest difference between STACK and other fitness magazines, he says, is that STACK stresses performance rather than appearance.
"The content we create is about what athletes need to get their bodies to move better and what will make them better athletes, not just better looking," he said.
To become a better athlete, Zimmerman says one must focus on all areas of performance — training, nutrition, skill development, gear purchases and lifestyle choices.
"STACK provides the complete 'stack of information' athletes need to effectively improve their athletic performance," said Zimmerman.
Through high-end video content — highlighting pro athletes like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning — at-home athletes can see how they "stack up" against the competition by watching videos of how top athletes train, eat and enhance their performance.
(Take a look at the Summer 2011 issue.)
An accomplished offensive lineman — three-time First Team All-Conference and All America his senior year — Zimmerman still keeps in touch with Coach Lackner and the many close friends he made at the university.
Art Boni, head of the university's Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship at the Tepper School of Business, advised and refined Zimmerman's business plan for STACK.
"I've always thought very highly of Coach Lackner and Art Boni. Coach Lackner was a great mentor, and Art was very helpful to me because I was a chemical engineering major, so the business plan required work outside of my studies," Zimmerman said.
He's proud to be an alum of CMU, and says the university is great because of its excellence in many different areas.
"How many people know what direction they want to go in when they start college? I was always able to stay in a great program while at CMU and still have the flexibility to move around."
He added that from an athlete's standpoint, CMU is very competitive.
"Out in the world, you are highly respected for having gone to CMU, but when you also tell them you were a student athlete they understand the commitment you had to make," he said.
"It sets you apart."