Kinko’s: Paul Orfalea

Kinko’s copy shops were once so ubiquitous that the name became a kind of shorthand for photocopying. Paul Orfalea started the first shop in 1970 in a tiny converted hamburger stand near UC Santa Barbara, called it Kinko’s after his childhood nickname, and eventually grew it into a sprawling global chain.   

Rather than relying on a franchise model, Paul partnered with co-owners, which often made it hard to keep the business on track. Far-flung owners couldn’t agree about the basics of logo design or the complexities of keeping stores open 24 hours. In 2004, Kinko’s was acquired for $2.4 billion by FedEx, which eventually shed the name and transformed the shops into today’s FedEx Office locations.

This episode was produced by Chis Maccini and edited by Neva Grant, with music by Ramtin Arablouei. Our audio engineer was James Willetts. 

You can follow HIBT on Twitter & Instagram, and email us at

See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at