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Gopher-preneur book of the month, Nov 05


General Business Discussions

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Old 11-07-2005, 10:45 AM
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Gopher-preneur book of the month, Nov '05
Copy This! : Lessons from a Hyperactive Dyslexic who Turned a Bright Idea Into One of America's Best Companies
by Paul Orfalea, Ann Marsh




Paul Orfalea was born with a severe reading disability, and was a D average in school. He knew he couldn't work for anyone or take orders from anyone so he decided he had to start his own business.

Paul founded Kinko’s with a simple idea: provide college students with products and services they need at a competitive price. Much of Kinko’s success can be traced directly to Paul Orfalea’s unique business philosophy that was based on the founder’s freethinking, creative style, his passion for retailing, his insistence on taking care of his co-workers and customers, and a sharp eye for opportunity.

In 1970, Paul moved to Santa Barbara, CA to be near a college. Then he borrowed $5,000 from a bank and opened a school supply business in a 100 square foot garage along the main road leading to the University of California. He called the business Kinko’s, a nickname he had acquired because of his red, curly hair.

The store was only 100 square feet. It was so small, the copy machine had to be wheeled outside to make copies as seen in this photo.


To catch the attention of students on their way to school, Paul displayed notebooks and pens on the front sidewalk. He leased a photocopier, a film-processing machine, and an offset press for the small shop because, “I had no idea which one would be the most popular, so I took all three.” The photocopier won the popularity contest, and soon Kinko’s was crowded.

Paul hired his college friends to sell supplies and make copies, and urged them to move to other college towns and set up new Kinko’s stores. They did, and today Kinko’s has over 900 branches worldwide, employs 24,000 workers, and has been named by Fortune magazine as one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.

In ’04, Paul sold Kinko’s to FedEx.

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