From a humble beginning to being in the top 2% of female entrepreneurs in the USA, the journey taken by Judy Gatena Karpinski is one of determination, innovation, and passion. Faced with countless obstacles, Judy defied the odds and built multiple businesses that have not only transformed her own life, but her family’s as well. Judy’s latest venture, Morpheus Marketplace, is disrupting the way video is made with an innovative approach to video versioning and customization.
Morpheus Marketplace is a revolutionary video customization platform for large enterprises. Morpheus simplifies the process of creating hyper-localized, brand-compliant videos allowing marketing and sales teams to customize and download content quickly and easily.
Life was complicated for Judy as a young adult. She left home at 15 with little direction, she found herself in and out of trouble more times than she could count. Pregnant and on her own at 19, Judy made the decision to change her life, she had reached the proverbial fork in the road. Her priorities shifted, and so did the trajectory of her future. It wasn’t easy, but she found strength and inspiration in her son Steve. He became her anchor, keeping her grounded and focused even when the exhaustion of motherhood threatened to overwhelm her.
“The moment I got pregnant with my son, my life changed…It changed my path and my destiny” Judy explains.
Despite facing significant adversity, she never gave up on her dreams. As a single parent living in public housing, she struggled to make ends meet on welfare and food stamps. With a young son to care for, she knew she had to do whatever it took to provide for him. Each day, she woke up before dawn to take her son to daycare, so that she could work a sales job at a printer ribbon company and by nightfall utter exhaustion would set in, only to repeat the same process the next day. Like so many single parents she developed grit and tenacity all the while knowing her most important mission in life was to raise a solid human.
At the age of 25, Judy Gatena Karpinski observed a growing trend that had the potential to revolutionize her life – the rapid advancement of technology and the shift towards laser printer technology in companies. Seeing an opportunity in the growing demand for leased printers and supplies, Judy decided to take a leap of faith in 1991 and established Abacus One, a business focused on providing computer and printer supplies. Over the next two decades, Abacus One proved to be Judy’s remarkable success story.
“During the first part of my childhood, we relied on California’s Welfare program and lived in Public Housing. By the time I was a teenager my parents owned a primary residence in Thousand Oaks, California and a vacation home in Park City, Utah. I watched my mom build the American Dream.” – Steve Gatena
As her son neared graduation from the University of Southern California in 2009, he posed a question to her that would involve his homework assignment and change the course of her career. “Mom, do you have any ideas for a business that could fill a need in the market and that would be super fun?” With just a spark of an idea in her mind, she shared her vision with him, about making videos of vacation rentals and before long, he took some kindling and turned the spark into a wildfire which became the foundation for REP Digital, a unique company that combined creative services with video production for a new platform called YouTube.
When Judy joined REP Digital as President and COO, her initial goal was to offer guidance to its young entrepreneur. However, her commitment to work a few hours each week quickly evolved as she became more invested in the company’s vision. With a small but talented team of creatives,
REP Digital began to attract a diverse range of clients, including corporate giants eager to harness the power of new media advertising. As a result, the company gradually amassed numerous awards, cementing its reputation as a force to be reckoned within the industry.
Judy discovered that she had a natural inclination for building relationships and mentoring creatives, which she found to be exhilarating. Although Abacus One was her first business with a dedicated clientele, she had found her passion and beamed with pride when talking about her son’s homework assignment. When her son was recruited to pursue new opportunities in 2015, Judy seized the chance to become CEO of REP Digital and focus on the long-term vision and strategy of the now well- established production company and creative agency. The company is now a woman owned enterprise which had grown from a small, niche concept to a well-respected video agency under her guidance and taking on the CEO role marked the culmination of Judy’s career shift in her late forties.
“In my early years, my focus was on making ends meet, just finding a way to take care of my family. I stuck with what I was good at, figuring out my core client base and filling a need in the market. It
was great, but I never took the time to realize that I was missing something, that there were sides of me I had not been able to explore. Sometimes it takes a lot of life experience to really discover what you are meant to do, and I was fortunate enough to have a son who could help me find that through a shared venture. For years, I thought ‘this is what I do, this is my job,’ and never expected to move beyond that, but when your talent collides with a job that sparks your passion, it is suddenly easy to see that there is more over that horizon and eventually all the dots connect.” – Judy Gatena, CEO of REP Digital
With tireless effort and an unwavering commitment, she turned her dream into reality and set an incredible example for her children, who have each achieved success in their own endeavors. Steve, for instance, has become the CEO and Founder of Pray.com, the top faith-based app in the app store with millions of subscribers, while Kate has emerged as a leader at Regal Wine Company, which is owned by Jackson Family Wines, and has climbed the corporate ranks with remarkable speed.
When asked to describe Judy, her daughter Kate said: “My Mom has been an amazing mentor and taught me how to inspire and motivate the people I work with.” Her son agrees, stating, “There is no equivalency to mentorship, she showed me that nothing is impossible…if you work hard enough you can achieve your dreams. My mom is the hardest worker I know. Her story, while inspirational and amazing, is not atypical in the United States of America…My mom is an inspiration to me, and I love her very much.”
Judy prides herself on her relentless work ethic; she believes that while luck may not always be on our side, we are presented with opportunities, and it’s our response to those opportunities that truly matters. “Give me a challenge and I will sink my teeth in and figure it out… I am not a quitter, I don’t quit.” – Judy Gatena Karpinski
Judy’s hard work and dedication have paid off as she ranked 8th on FORBES Magazine’s list of Famous Multi-Generational Entrepreneurs, alongside her son and former business partner, Steve Gatena. Her success story is a true testament to the American dream, creating something dynamic and original in Los Angeles, a city full of broadcast and production companies. Although Judy and her husband Mike now reside in Nashville, TN, Los Angeles will forever hold a special place in her heart as it is where she embarked on her entrepreneurial journey and raised her children.
Meet Judy Gatena Karpinski in this documentary video.
“When you come from humble beginnings you may not have a lot, but you have your integrity.” –
Judy Gatena Karpinski.