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Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later from Oregon: Paresh Patel, CEO of PayRange (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jan 10th 2022
Paresh Patel , CEO of PayRange

Paresh did a superb job of validating in a bootstrapped mode and then raising significant venture capital. However, he made some mistakes after the fund raise. Eventually, he course-corrected and has built a wonderful business without further infusion of capital. Excellent case study!

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Paresh Patel: I was born in Vancouver, Canada. I grew up there and moved to the United States when I was about 10 to Portland. I spent the rest of my life since then in the Pacific Northwest.

Sramana Mitra: You’re still in Portland?

Paresh Patel: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: What journey did you take via education?

Paresh Patel: My background in business started at a very early age. When I moved to the United States, my parents had bought a small business. I started learning about how business works. By the time I was 12, my dad gave us a pop machine. We ran that as our business. We were filling the soda machine, collecting the money out of it, and go and buy more. I bought my first Commodore 64 with the money we were making from the pop machine.

By the time I got to high school, I was looking for a way to pay for college and decided that this one machine has been working pretty well for us. What if I had more? I started placing more vending machines out there and used that to pay for my schooling. I got my undergraduate and then I went to University of Washington for my MBA. Later, I got my Ph.D.

Sramana Mitra: Where was your undergraduate?

Paresh Patel: Portland State University

Sramana Mitra: You were doing all your schooling in the Pacific Northwest as well.

Paresh Patel: Yes. I was doing at the same time. A lot of people thought that it’s a lot harder. Because I was doing business education, I felt like they were complementary. I literally had a case study where I was implementing things I was learning. As a result, I learned a lot more.

Sramana Mitra: I agree. I’m a huge fan of student entrepreneurs. I started my first company as a grad student. I was not a Computer Science student. It was starting early. How long did this business last?

Paresh Patel: I kept the business for quite some time after I graduated. I was thinking about trying to go into something else. An opportunity came my way where I could grow my business. I kept growing it until about 2011. I sold that and then got into the technology side. That company was on the customer side of where I’m at right now.

With my vending company, I not only learned about business but also about the industry and customers. I learned a lot about the problems. Part of the issue I learned was I saw the struggles our customers had paying machines. I’d setup a vending machine for example at a community college and watch my consumers. Fewer and fewer of them were able to make a transaction. They didn’t carry change in their pocket. My current company makes payments digital to unattended retail.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later from Oregon: Paresh Patel, CEO of PayRange
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