When Delane Parnell, 29, was growing up on Detroit's West Side, gang violence was a part of life. Parnell got an after-school job at a cell-phone store mostly to spend less of his time in his neighborhood. Turns out, he was pretty good at selling cell phones.
By age 16, Parnell was using his savings to buy out other local cell-phone stores, and saw a future in entrepreneurship. He soon recognized potential in the growth of video games, and specifically e-sports—but also saw a lack of structure in this thing countless students were spending a lot of their time on.
So in 2017 Parnell founded PlayVS, which would go on to become the competition infrastructure underlying much of American high-school e-sports. Today PlayVS is valued at more than $400 million.