Durham is music to his ears

October 4, 2007Duke Law News

Todd Atlas T '01 began his career in the music business as a Duke undergraduate. Majoring in both music and economics, he participated in music recording projects at Duke and began researching quality recording equipment. When his research revealed that the best and most cost-effective products could only be found overseas, he began taking steps to start a business selling the equipment in the United States.

Fast forward eight years. Now a fourth-year JD/MBA student at Duke and owner of Sound Pure LLC, Atlas has found professional success in Durham and sees incredible opportunity to contribute to the city’s ongoing expansion of its downtown district.

In November 2006, Atlas purchased the old Regal Laundry building at 808 Washington St. to house his high-end recording equipment business. After almost a year of planning and negotiations with contractors, construction began in September 2007. He intends to open the store this winter, after renovations are complete.

“The neighborhood is a prime example of the quirky old buildings, varied architecture, and tremendous dollar value that this city is loved for,” Atlas says.

Located two blocks from the Old Durham Athletic Park --where “Bull Durham” was filmed--he plans to divide the 8,000-square-foot building into a recording studio, offices, warehouse, and showroom for boutique guitars and amplifiers.

“You cannot beat the cost of property, the cost of living, or the influx of talented people coming into this city,” Atlas says.

While building his business, Atlas also began his joint JD/MBA at Duke. He was encouraged to pursue a joint degree and felt this unique credential would significantly benefit his professional entrepreneurial career.

“Coming to a place like Duke is a constant reminder not only of the opportunities that the school’s pedigree creates, but also of the people you meet at Duke, who are going to be the people you can call on for the rest of your life,” he says. “It’s an invitation to [join] an incredible network of people. As an entrepreneur, these really are priceless resources.”

Pursuing two degrees while planning his business has been a challenge, but Atlas says his hard work is already paying off.

“The degree brings a tremendous amount of clout to the table,” Atlas says. “With this degree, you prove to clients you are the type of serious individual they can work with long term.”

Atlas says the people he’s met at Duke have been the most memorable part of his experience.

“I feel like I’ve learned as much from my fellow students as I did in my classes,” he says. “The professors at Duke are so welcoming that there is the opportunity to learn as much from them outside of class as there is inside.”

In looking ahead to life after graduation, Atlas says he first would like to enjoy some downtime. But, he adds, “once the smoke clears, I am really looking forward to taking all that I’ve learned and running with it.”