10 Things To Know About Delane Parnell
Delane Parnell is changing the game when it comes to esports. He is a young tech founder, having started the company PlayVS (pronounced “Play Versus”), which is now the official league for high school esports.
During an interview with Moguldom, Parnell said there are 21,000 high schools in the U.S. and esports will be sanctioned just like any other sports — basketball or football. “You can compete for state championships and have your statistical records recognized by the State Athletic Association,” Parnell said.
And Detroit native Parnell has been attracting investors — fast.
Here are 10 things you should know about Parnell and PlayVS.
On a Money Roll
Parnell tweeted on June 4,
Parnel described the raise as “a historic milestone” in an email to Moguldom.
Sealing The Deal
It was in 2018 that PlayVS inked an exclusive contract with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) “to provide support in building the video gaming infrastructure for high school esports, allowing students to play esports on behalf of their school all the way to the state championship level,” Moguldom reported.
“We’ve had a lot of success by being focused,” Parnell told Venturebeat. “Other esports companies have not been focused on building really good products first. We spend our time thinking about PlayVS and our community — coaches, administrators, players, parents, and teachers. We are on the front lines having conversations with the stakeholders.”
Not only has the company grown financially, but it has also added to its team. “The company has also grown from 16 employees at the end of 2018 to 41 and plans to double that before the end of 2019. The new round will give PlayVS a chance to hire aggressively and also consider mergers and acquisitions as a means of growth,” Techcrunch reported.
PlayVS has taken over the market. Its product Seasons was released in five states in October 2018 and has already expanded to eight states. “On average, schools had 15 students participate in esports, which is half of the average baseball and basketball participation (30 students). More than 13,000 schools — 68 percent of the country — are waitlisted to build an esports program through PlayVS,” VentureBeat reported.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 24: Delane Parnell Jamarlin talks to prodigy Delane Parnell, founder and CEO of high-school esports company PlayVS, which just raised a $15M series A round.
As a teen working in a cell phone store, Parnell started working is way up the ladder fast. He was an associate at a cell-phone store while still in high school. He “ginned up business by offering free cases and ringtones to classmates. By the time he turned 16, he was part owner of the store and several others. Parnell’s next act was starting a car-rental chain with a friend who owned a collision shop. (Parnell made it a hit by renting rides to teens during prom season.),” Fast Company reported.
Parnell got the entrepreneurial bug early. He was just 20 when he founded FiftyFounders events. The company was established to bring tech-savvy startups to Detroit.
“As a 22-year-old associate for IncWell Venture Capital, Parnell gained a reputation as the youngest African-American venture capitalist in the U.S., managing the funds deal-flow process and handling
When asked by Moguldom’s Jamarlin Martin to explain to the audience what a traditional incubator does and how that can really anchor you to kind of go out and raise money and develop your business model?
Parnell replied: “Yeah, so people generally confused accelerators and incubators. I think they just consider them the same thing. An accelerator is like a Y Combinator or
Once Parnell got involved in esports, he knew it was the industry for him. “Parnell’s interest in esports was piqued when tournament organizers began reaching out to Rocket Fiber for help in getting faster connections. In 2015, he created his own professional Call of Duty team. He sold the team a year later and began looking for his next venture. That’s when, at a party during his first South by Southwest, in 2017, Parnell was introduced to investor Peter Pham, who was jigging by himself on the dance floor…Pham urged Parnell to focus on the high school market and invited him to move to Santa Monica and work with Science. Pham also provided the brand-name legitimacy that locked in the NFHS deal,” Fast Company reported.
Looking Beyond The Game
Parnell is looking ahead at bigger and better things.
“This is the most accessible, affordable, and inclusive sport at the high school level,” he told Fast Company. “If we grow, the e-sports [industry] grows.” According to Parnell, PlayVS is an opportunity not only to develop new athletes but also to assist parents and teachers “understand there’s a pathway to a career.”