Paul Carlisle (’07 MBA) had just completed his undergraduate degree in business administration from Washington State University Tri-Cities in 2005 when he decided to open his own technology solutions company.
The idea came after the organization he previously worked for sold to another company, and he felt the work he was doing became less challenging.
“It was an opportunity for me to say, ‘I’m going to jumpoff and try to tackle something larger,’” he says.
But rather than focusing on large equipment installations, like most technology infrastructure companies were doing at the time, Carlisle planned to serve companies as an end-to-end technology management firm. With that, elevate was born.
Carlisle used the master’s in business administration program at WSU Tri-Cities to refine the business structure and launch the organization, as well as consult with his professors for what worked and what didn’t within the company.
“I leveraged a lot of my business school classes through the master’s in business administration program at WSU Tri-Cities for elevate,” he says. “I feel like WSU Tri-Cities really helped me identify and create a level of maturity when it was being launched.”
Since that period, the company has grown to contract with more than 50 companies throughout the mid-Columbia region and across the state. In 2016, elevate welcomed Governor Jay Inslee to talk about job creation. This year, Carlisle was recognized with the Richland Rotary’s Sam Vulpentest Entrepreneurial Leadership Award.
“I certainly didn’t do it on my own,” he says. “I’ve worked with people in the Tri-City Regional Chamber, at WSU Tri-Cities, through WSU Tri-Cities’ Carson College of Business Advisory Board, and with coworking and startup programs.”
Carlisle says WSU Tri-Cities is different from many college campuses because the courses are truly rooted in the community and the business connections are already established locally.
Now, Carlisle is using his success in his own career to give back to students and future entrepreneurs.
Carlisle serves on the WSU Tri-Cities Carson College of Business Advisory Board, which aims to create opportunities for community partnerships between local businesses so that students may be connected with many more research experiences, internships, co-ops, and more. Additionally, he serves as an adjunct faculty member teaching entrepreneurship and works with the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce on its board and regional affairs committee.
“By looking at the natural flow of businesses in the Tri-Cities, we can start to remove barriers and just let the natural momentum move forward,” he says.
Carlisle says it has always been his goal to use his own success as a catalyst for growing the success of others.
“I’ve been there,” he says. “In my 20s, I worked to really form elevate. In my 30s, I quickly realized that helping these emerging businesses is what elevate is all about. In my 40s, I want to be invited to play with these fantastic new startups built by these bright young students because they are the future of our community.”