Peter Mann started Oransi as a B-to-C e-commerce company. Today, 40% of his $10M revenue comes from China. This is the kind of company America hopes to see more of – selling American products to international consumers.
Sramana Mitra: Peter, let’s start with your background. Where were you born and raised? What kind of background leads up to your entrepreneur story?
Peter Mann: I was born in Syracuse, New York. I lived in the same house till I was 18 and went off to college. My father was a mechanical engineer. He was a manager at General Electric. He comes from a time when people worked 40 years in a company and then get their retirement package. He was also a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Syracuse University. We were heavily involved with the university. I grew up around a university atmosphere during my childhood.
Sramana Mitra: What about college? What path did you follow?
Peter Mann: I went to the University of Rochester, which was 90 minutes down the road. My degree was in Statistics. I really like Math. The further I got into Math, the more theoretical it became. I like more applied Math. That’s how I ended up in Statistics. I went to Rochester on a Navy ROTC scholarship. I liked the idea of having a job when I got out of college as well as having my tuition paid for four years. It was a good deal for me. At that time in Rochester, 10% of the student body was in Navy ROTC. It was a pretty large group.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do after college?
Peter Mann: I went into the Navy after college. In college, another thing that I did that was helpful to me was starting a fraternity. Instead of joining a fraternity, I got together with a group of friends and started our own fraternity. That was a really good experience in terms of forming an organization and going out and recruiting people. At this point – 25 years later – it’s growing strong and is consistently ranked as the top fraternity at the university. That’s something we’re very proud of.
Upon graduation, I went into the Navy. I was in Newport for Officer Training. I was stationed at a frigate out of North Virginia. I was there for about three and a half years. That was a really good experience because I was just 21 and was given 23 people to manage – nearly all of who were older than me. You are in a situation where you have to respond very quickly and use your training but also use people skills to get the job done. Most people under 21 wouldn’t get a management position like that.