At age 15 Evan Paul founded eGamePlace, a global online video game-trading business that earned him a top spot in the burgeoning world of electronic games. Today, at the ripe old age of 23, the young visionary is a seasoned entrepreneur with yet another startup under his belt: In 2011, with two partners, Paul started Glueper, a mobile, social gaming platform that helps businesses engage customers. Despite having dyslexia—or perhaps because of it—Paul has reached the pinnacle of his field, though few would have predicted his success as he struggled through school with a language-learning disability.
Paul’s early years were fraught with warning signs that something was wrong. His writing was so messy and his spelling so atrocious that his teachers were unable to read what he wrote. Misdiagnosed with ADHD, he was told he wasn’t trying.
Frustrated, he started playing video games. By fourth grade, he needed more extra help, so his parents sent him to a nearby private school with smaller classes. There, instead of getting additional help with schoolwork, he was sent daily to a learning center where he passed the time playing games, such as Sorry and PlayStation 2.
The problem is not making a mistake. It’s not learning from it and improving for the future.
Still struggling as an eighth grader in yet another private school, he was told he’d never succeed. One teacher went so far as to tell him that the world needed people like him to work its gas pumps.
As his self-esteem plummeted, he turned more and more to video games, gaining the expertise and self-confidence that one day would enable him to turn his passion into a business.
Paul was tested once again before his freshman year in high school and learned he had dyslexia. He then enrolled at Landmark School, a private school in Beverly, MA for students with LD. There he learned that instead of trying to fix his differences he needed to focus on building his strengths and working around his weaknesses.
“Before Landmark, I wasn’t able to take notes,” recalled Paul. “They taught me a learning strategy called ‘Two Column Notes.’ I split the page into two sides. On the left side are the main topics, on the right are the details. When you fold the paper in half, it allows you to quiz yourself. I now take very effective notes.”
His academic success coincided with his entry into the business world. His first company, Inter- national Power Gaming was a service company for online gaming. Fulfilling every young gamer’s fantasy, Paul and his team were actually paid to play games for people until certain levels were reached. That business, founded with a friend was bought by someone who wanted to “remove us from the market.” His next company, eGamePlace was a game-swapping site that went live in October, 2004.
“I came up with the idea for International Power Gaming while starting eGamePlace,” he said. “At age 15, I had them both going at the same time. Then I sold one and invested the money into the other.”
For the first two years, he ran eGamePlace by himself. Then, after extensive web networking, he assembled a five-man executive team, including a dot.com legal expert in Boston and a business manager to oversee programmers in Nepal.
Following his success with his first entrepreneurial venture, Paul became a consultant and sought-after speaker on the topics of gaming and gamification (a field that uses gaming techniques to help businesses engage consumers). He then went on to start Glueper, where he currently is the COO and head of sales. In addition, he and a friend launched Dyslexic Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to helping young people with LD pursue their dreams.
Paul credits his parents’ unfailing support for much of his success. “My parents were always very supportive and never gave up on me,” he said. “They always said, ‘Oh, Evan. You’re doing well.’ Whether they believed it or not, they’d still say it and it would keep me going. Once we knew I had dyslexia, I discovered that it wasn’t because I wasn’t trying hard enough but rather I wasn’t being taught with the proper approach.”