RISHI NARAYAN:
 
Rishi Narayan




 
 
 
 
 
Co-founder of Underground Printing in Ann Arbor. Underground is a national custom apparel and collegiate merchandise company with 19 locations in college towns throughout the country. Under Narayan's leadership, the company has grown from its launch by two college friends to a business that has been on the Inc. 5,000 for four consecutive years. The company reported 2011 revenue of $10.5 million, up from $5.3 million in 2008, and now has more than 120 employees. Underground Printing produces more than 100,000 printed impressions per month and is an official vendor of Greek and Collegiate Licensed Products. The firm holds more than 50 licenses for different collegiate organizations. Impressions magazine has ranked Underground as one of the top 50 screen printers in the nation by volume for the past six years. The company has nearly 20 retail locations in 10 states and a 55,000-square-foot print production facility in Scio Township. Underground was recognized by AnnArbor.com's Business Review with a Deals of the Year for Retail award in 2010 when the company acquired Moe Sports Shop and opened a retail store on South Main St., both in Ann Arbor. Underground Printing was named a Michigan 50 Companies to Watch winner, and the founders were recognized as the Michigan Celebrates Small Business Young Entrepreneurs of the Year. Narayan also was listed as one of Crain's Detroit Business 20 in their 20s. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan.


WHERE BORN: “West Lafayette, Indiana.”

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: “My dad was a chemical engineer, so I went into chemical engineering because I worked in my dad's lab, and I thought that's what it was like. I took classes and quickly learned what chemical engineering was like for most people. It wasn't the lab that I loved, it was my dad and innovation, product ideas, and being involved in small companies.”

LAST BOOK READ:An Economist Gets Lunch by Tyler Cowen. I'm really into books and podcasts, like Freakonomics or NPR's Planet Money, that delve into an economist's perspective on seemingly normal, random things.”

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: “Entrepreneurial, fun-loving, positive.”

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: “The printing industry went from fragmented mom-and-pop operations to going online and now it's going back to local physical locations. People want to purchase where they can talk to someone, especially in the custom-printed world where it's not one shirt but 20 or 500 – and when you're responsible for that many, you want to hold someone responsible and you can't do that as well on the Internet. We combine the one-on-one conversation with all of the advantages of Internet companies in technology, design, and ease of payment.”

FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: “I've been an iPhone user since it first came out but just switched to an Android device, an HTC 1x. It has so many cool features and other things that I wanted to try. My wife calls me a technology hipster because I'm so into the latest trends.”

FAVORITE PLACE: “The Crisler Center. I'm really enjoying the renovations and am excited for Michigan basketball this year.”

FAVORITE HOBBIES: “Watching TV, tennis, reading tech blogs.”

FAVORITE FOOD: “Nachos.”

MY HIDDEN TALENT: “I have a pretty good recollection of any actor or actress who was in a movie in the '80s. The worse the movie, the better chance I have of knowing who they are.”

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: “As an entrepreneur who was involved with a lot of cool ideas and cool companies.”


At the annual awards reception in May 2015, one Leader & Innovator from the previous 12 months will be selected as the Leader & Innovator of the Year.