B.S. Management Entrepreneurship '09
CEO Spartz Media
No Ordinary Muggle
Emerson Spartz may not have gotten an invitation to study at Hogwarts when he turned 11, but when he was 18, he did receive a similar letter from the University of Notre Dame.
Already famous among Harry Potter fans on the Web before he even began his freshman year, the 2009 graduate was the mastermind behind MuggleNet.com, the online authority on J.K. Rowlings’ blockbuster book series and the films that followed.
Spartz created MuggleNet during his pre-Notre Dame days as a homeschooler in LaPorte, Ind. The site grew into an international destination for millions of visitors and made Spartz something of a celebrity on campus his freshman year.
“During the Freshman Orientation Mass, they started talking about some homeschooled Harry Potter fan who created a website,” Spartz recalls. “I remember thinking ‘Ha! Nerd.’ Then I realized they were talking about me. And I remembered that I am, indeed, a nerd.”
Perhaps, but in a good way. MuggleNet led to an invitation for Spartz from Rowlings herself to visit her Scotland home, and a book deal for “MuggleNet.com’s What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7,” which he co-authored while an undergraduate.
Not a bad opening act, but Spartz was only getting started. Now the chief executive officer of Spartz Media, a network of websites that includes GivesMeHope, MuggleNet, and OMG Facts, he is heading up one of the fastest growing start-ups in Chicago. Spartz Media’s network of sites receives 8.5 million monthly visitors, has 5 million followers on Facebook and Twitter, and an audience comparable to that of the Chicago Tribune. All this surpasses MuggleNet’s success at its peak.
As a management major in Mendoza College of Business, Spartz honed his entrepreneurial skills, while also embodying the University’s commitment to the greater good. During his junior year he received an offer from Morale Entertainment to develop the website for their College Coaches Tour of the Middle East. The group invited Spartz to travel with them and five football coaches to military bases in locations including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Germany, where he chronicled events and met with Harry Potter fans.
Among Spartz’ other socially driven pursuits, he has invested in global solar energy projects and created Google-powered search engine sites, like SavesWatts.com, which uses a simple black background to reduce watt-hours. Along with his fiancée Gaby Montero, herself a Notre Dame alumna, he also created GivesMeHope.com, a site that allows visitors to draw inspiration from everyday life stories of forgiveness, courage, love and heroic self-sacrifice.
Since graduation, Spartz has carried Notre Dame with him along his career path, not only by recalling his experiences as a student, but also through the people with whom he surrounds himself professionally.
“I was so impressed by the quality of my education and the quality of the student body,” said Spartz, whose company now has a staff of 22 and counting. “It's the worst-kept secret in Chicago that we have a near-fanatical preference for hiring Domers.”