Esports Entrepreneur Delane Parnell: Knowing Your Space And Taking Initiative

Kwame Som-Pimpong
Written by Kwame Som-Pimpong
PlayVS delane parnell
Esports entrepreneur Delane Parnell, founder of PlayVS, has tips to help founders move their ideas forward on the GHOGH podcast with host Jamarlin Martin. He was photographed at Black Tech Week Miami, 2018. Photo: Anita Sanikop/Moguldom

Esports entrepreneur Delane Parnell joins GHOGH podcast host Jamarlin Martin to discuss the journey that led him to building PlayVS, a competition platform and league for high schools and colleges. 

Parnell is founder and CEO of PlayVS, a company he launched after a track record of entrepreneurship beginning in the retail industry standing up cell phone stores. He then started to plug in the technology space, hosting events that brought some of the biggest names in tech to Detroit. Through that work, he got started in venture capital, then helped launch an internet service provider before launching PlayVS. 

Parnell has seen a lot and shares some helpful lessons to help founders move their ideas forward.

Study your industry

Before launching PlayVS, Parnell had done a lot of research on what was happening in esports. This positioned him to be ready to leap when the opportunity to launch the company presented itself. “Certainly, I studied the space. I talked to people in the space. I was prepared to build a company in the space no matter what that company was, assuming I have passion for what it was, and it was just the right place, right time,” Parnell said.

Looking for guidance on how to research your industry well? Here are some resources:

Conducting Market Research – Entrepreneur Staff

How Entrepreneurs Can Conduct Primary Market Research – Bill Aulet

The entrepreneur’s ultimate guide to market research – Sally Hammady

Take initiative to close the deal

Parnell tells the story of how he secured the PlayVS partnership with the National Federation of High School Associations. Their original timeline was to get back to him in a year with their decision on the partnership proposal.

“They ended the meeting after three hours saying, ‘We think we’re going to make a decision in a year, you know how the school system is slow.’

“I’m like, ‘We might as well pack our bags and go do something else.'”

That didn’t work for Parnell, who needed to launch by the beginning of the school year, so he took a bold step based on an observation he’d made that the man who kicked off the meeting described himself as the ping-pong champ in the office.

In the Uber leaving the meeting, Parnell ordered him a large trophy that would be delivered in 10 days. The morning of the 10th day, he got a call saying that the federation wanted to do an exclusive partnership with PlayVS.

Looking for tips on how best to take initiative? Here are some resources:

Glengarry Glenn Ross – James Foley

3 Steps to Develop More Initiative – Dave Kerpen

Proactive or Reactive – Which Mode Are You In? – Dan Dowling

Parnell has positioned himself well for success in building PlayVS by studying everything he could about the esports industry and taking initiative to go after opportunities when they presented themselves. Founders who implement these should find themselves stepping through doors of opportunity as well. Let’s GHOGH!

Kwame Som-Pimpong writes on business, technology, policy, and their intersections with black people. He earned a BA in Political Science from Davidson College and Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. He can be reached at kwame.som.pimpong@gmail.com.