At 25, Delane Parnell has 15 employees and over $25 million raised for his eSports company PlayVS (pronounced Play Versus).
This fall, high schools across the country will officially offer competitive video game leagues and Parnell’s company will host competitions, compile stats and streams matches exclusively on the PlayVS platform.
That alone would be a huge accomplishment for any 25-year-old, but Parnell’s story is even more remarkable when you consider where it started.
The Detroit native got his first job at MetroPCS when he was 13 and worked over 40 hours a week to avoid the gangs and drugs in his neighborhood.
“If I didn’t go to work and keep busy after school, the only alternative was to go back in my neighborhood and be in a gang,” he says. “I didn’t want that life.”
He eventually mastered the art of selling phones and saved enough to buy his own cell phone stores, owning and operating three Detroit locations at age 17.
“That whole time,” Parnell says, “I had one goal in mind: How can I get as rich as possible to get my whole family out of this situation?”
Hit the jump to see why Parnell eventually dropped out of school. Plus, learn how he went on to raise the largest initial investment ever secured by a Black-owned consumer Internet company.