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Paul Orfalea

Founder of Kinko's

Kinko’s Founder Paul Orfalea is a serial entrepreneur, philanthropist and author. Paul Orfalea founded Kinko’s in 1970 near the University of California at Santa Barbara with a simple idea: provide college students with products and services they need at a competitive price. The space that Paul Orfalea rented for his copy business was so small that the copy machine had to be lugged out onto the sidewalk. From its modest beginnings, Kinko’s is now the world’s leading business services chain. Today, there are over 1,500 Kinko’s worldwide.

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. Orfalea’s theories and instincts on how to operate a successful business were grounded in his passion for retailing, his insistence on taking care of his co-workers and customers, and a sharp eye for opportunity. Through Paul Orfalea’s leadership, Kinko’s has taken an exemplary leading role in environmental responsibility.

Paul Orfalea encouraged active participation from all 23,000 of his co-workers, and generous incentive programs were implemented to stimulate creativity. In fact, co-workers at every level were encouraged to share ideas freely in organizational decisions. A reflection of this success is thatFortune magazine selected Kinko’s as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work with in America” from 1999 through 2001. Forbes magazine also ranked Kinko’s 84th on its year 2000 “Forbes 500 Biggest Private Companies.” Working Mother magazine listed Kinko’s in its “Best Companies for Working Mothers” 2001 issue.

Paul Orfalea is the author of Copy This! Lessons From a Hyperactive Dyslexic Who Turned a Bright Idea Into one of America’s Best Companies. This unique autobiography is filled with life lessons on overcoming obstacles and turning impediments into opportunities. It reveals how Orfalea succeeded using his learning differences and unorthodox approach to business to mold a compassionate, unconventional, partner-driven culture that allowed Kinko’s to thrive. Paul Ofalea’s other books include The Entrepreneurial Investor and Two Billion Dollars in Nickels.

In 2004, Kinko’s was acquired by the FedEx Corporation. Paul Orfalea is no longer involved with FedEx Kinko’s business management, refers to his retirement as being “repurposed” and is now involved in a range of business ventures. Entrepreneurship is not about owning a business; it’s about owning your life. Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea’s entrepreneurial philosophy melds business, personal finances, lifelong learning, and the pursuit of happiness.