Delane Parnell, 27
Company: Play Versus Inc.
Title: Founder and chief executive
Business: Esports competition platform
Location: Santa Monica
Financials: $96 million funding to date
What led you to start this business?
I’ve always had a passion for competition and video games. Operating official leagues for high schools and colleges made a lot of sense, not only from a market opportunity, but also my identity as far as loving video games. I had the opportunity to pursue building a business in esports, and so I did it. I was based in Detroit and (Science Inc. co-founder) Peter Pham convinced me to move to L.A.
How did you fund it, and how are you funding it going forward?
We’ve raised venture capital funding. Science (Inc.) is one of our investors, but not the biggest. Most of our investors are based in San Francisco.
Are there advantages or disadvantages to starting a business in your 20s?
I feel like if you have something you are passionate (about), and you have a way to monetize it, you should do it. It doesn’t matter to me how old you are.
How has the pandemic impacted your business?
There really hasn’t been much impact on us. We were growing before Covid, and we are growing after.
Where do you go for business advice?
Depends on the advice. One of the closest (advisors) is Dick Costolo, former Twitter CEO.
Does social responsibility play a role in your business?
Yes. We do a ton to reinvest in our community by supplying things like computer equipment to schools across the country. But it’s not something we broadcast a lot. We definitely think it’s important to give back, but we’re not trying to generate a bunch of media (coverage) about it.
Do you feel that your business is particularly tailored to the Los Angeles market?
I think there are a number of locations where the business would have been successful.
But because esports mostly exists in Los Angeles, and there are a number of major game studios in the area, it gives us an edge here.
What do you do for fun?
I mostly play video games, play sports and work. On the sports side, it’s usually basketball or football.
Keep reading the 2020 edition of the 20 in Their 20s special report.