In this episode of the Dealmakers’ Podcast, we delve into the extraordinary life and entrepreneurial journey of Paris Wallace. From a humble upbringing in section 8 housing to graduating from Harvard Business School, Paris’ story is one of determination, resilience, and a deep-rooted passion for making a positive impact on the world.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the key lessons and insights gained from Paris’ experiences, shedding light on his successes, challenges, and his groundbreaking venture into the world of professional sports.
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From Humble Beginnings to Harvard Business School
Paris’ childhood was marked by humble beginnings, raised by a disabled single mother who understood the value of education.
Despite facing challenges, she ensured he received the best education, starting from private schools before Kindergarten and culminating in his graduation from Harvard Business School. This background instilled in Paris a profound appreciation for education and a relentless drive to succeed.
The Power of Inspiration
Paris’ mother was his beacon of strength and inspiration. Her unwavering determination and tireless work ethic became the foundation for Paris’ entrepreneurial journey. Witnessing her struggles, particularly in the realm of women’s health, ignited his passion for creating positive change in this domain.
While still in high school, Paris had a pivotal moment when he realized the potential of e-commerce. His online bike shop experiment yielded more profit in a day than his monthly job at a physical shop. This revelation ignited the spark that led him toward entrepreneurship.
The Harvard Years: Fostering Social Entrepreneurship
Paris’ time at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government molded his vision for creating for-profit businesses with a double bottom line. He sought to build companies that could thrive financially while making a substantial positive impact on society.
Paris’ objective was to work on things that would help him give back to the community for all the generosity and financial aid he received from a lot of people.
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Good Start Genetics: A Journey of Triumphs and Lessons
Paris founded Good Start Genetics out of his dorm room at Harvard Business School. This company focused on carrier screening testing for genetic disorders, leveraging the advancements in genomics.
The project was timed perfectly because the human genome had recently been cracked, and the first cost-effective developments of gene sequencing had just come out. The main challenge was to find some way to commercialize the technology.
Paris found himself placed strategically at the intersection of business school and MIT, where a lot of scientists were working to develop genetics. He entered a proposal at the Harvard Business School business plan competition, where it won second place.
The proposal was about diagnostic testing, or more specifically, carrier screening testing that prospective parents could take before they had children to see if they’re at risk of passing a genetic disorder. Paris raised $80M for his project with a combination of debt and equity financing.
While the journey was marked by tremendous growth and success, there were pivotal lessons learned. One key takeaway was the importance of understanding timing and trusting one’s instincts, especially in the face of experienced advisors.
Ovia Health: Revolutionizing Women’s Health
Ovia Health emerged as the largest digital health platform for women and families. Paris recognized the enormous potential in women’s health, an area historically underinvested in. By creating a supportive work environment and prioritizing gender diversity, Ovia Health thrived.
Although attracting funding for the platform was not a smooth journey, Paris gradually managed to get funding worth $20M. In Paris’ opinion, considering the venture-backed business landscape, the amount is quite low.
By the time Paris and his co-founders exited the company, it was growing at the rate of 300% every year.
Transcending Boundaries: A Vision for Inclusive Sports
Paris’ latest venture aims to disrupt the sports industry by creating a professional cycling league with a focus on diversity, gender equity, and sustainability. By reimagining ownership structures and championing equal opportunities, Paris is set to revolutionize the sports landscape.
Paris started NCL, the first majority-minority and female professional sports league, raising $7.5M in the seed round itself. Around 18 months down the line, the company has attracted $9M in funding and is reaching new heights of success.
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Lessons for Entrepreneurs
Surround Yourself with Like-minded Individuals: Building a team of individuals who share your vision and values is crucial for success.
Paris Wallace’s journey is a testament to the power of determination, vision, and a commitment to creating positive change. From humble beginnings to a trailblazing entrepreneur, Paris continues to inspire us with his dedication to inclusive entrepreneurship and his mission to transform the world of professional sports.
His story serves as a beacon of hope and a call to action for aspiring entrepreneurs to pursue their passions and make a lasting impact on the world.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- A journey from Section 8 housing to Harvard Business School exemplifies the transformative power of education and determination.
- A strong foundation in early education and an unwavering belief in the value of hard work were pivotal factors in shaping Paris’ entrepreneurial mindset.
- Commitment to improving women’s health, inspired by his mother’s struggles, led him to found Ovia Health, revolutionizing digital healthcare for women and families.
- The lessons learned from the first venture, Good Start Genetics, emphasized the importance of timing, intuition, and surrounding oneself with like-minded individuals.
- The latest venture, a professional cycling league, challenges traditional ownership structures, prioritizing diversity, gender equity, and sustainability.
- Inclusivity and diversity are not just ethical imperatives but also strategic advantages in building successful ventures.
- Paris’ story serves as a powerful reminder that with passion, vision, and a commitment to positive change, entrepreneurs can leave an indelible mark on the world.