Rishi Narayan is the co-founder and managing member of Underground Printing (UGP), a national custom apparel provider and collegiate merchandise retailer that's based in Ann Arbor. He's also a board member for the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, the South University Area Association, and the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.

Rishi Narayan at a January 2014 retreat of the Ann Arbor DDA board. (Photo courtesy of The Ann Arbor Chronicle.)

Narayan was nominated to the DDA board by mayor John Hieftje in 2013 and confirmed by city council to replace longtime board member Leah Gunn, for a term from August 19, 2013 to August 18, 2016. However, a note in the city's Legistar system states that the term end date was corrected administratively on May 30, 2014 in compliance with MCL 125.1654(1) to reflect a four-year term, through 2017.

The genesis of UGP is included on its website:

"... the story of Underground Printing really started in 1992. That's when UGP co-founders Rishi Narayan and Ryan Gregg met in 6th grade. Hundreds of pickup basketball games and several broken eyeglasses later, they became best friends, paving the way for the creation of the Underground Printing we know now.

After high school, Ryan and Rishi both ended up at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where engineering classes didn't really hold their attention. Ryan's dorm room loft building company gave the duo some small business experience – both good and bad! Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, they kept searching for a longer-term business venture.

A series of car "troubles" experienced by Rishi and his beloved Ford Probe GT led to a chance encounter with a tow truck driver who used to dabble in screenprinting in a former life. Thinking back to all the custom t-shirts they created in high school for the wide variety of student organizations they were involved in, R&R felt like this was something they could identify with and do well. They decided on the name of A-1 Screenprinting - so they could be the first in the phone book (Click here to find out what a phone book is).

Ryan and Rishi purchased a very basic screenprinting setup, but still had one issue: Where would they produce their shirts? They were pretty sure they couldn't sneak it all into their dorm room. But after some gentle persuading and reassuring, they convinced the now-infamous tow truck driver to let them set up shop in his garage, next to a broken-down Chevy and two golden retrievers who lovingly shared their hair with anything they touched.

Even with this minimalist production facility, A-1 Screenprinting really took off. Ryan and Rishi's approach to customer service on a college campus really set them apart. Their ability to cater to their core college customer and willingness to meet their customers anywhere and at anytime was the driving force behind growth.

Several years later, A-1 Screenprinting purchased another local screenprinter named Underground Printing to expand their production capabilities – and changed their name to something more relevant! 

Narayan is also founder of the BTB Party Bus, and is an investor in several companies, including Stitch Labs Inc., FlockTag, TeamMash and Seelio. He was a partner in the Widget Factory LLC from 2010-2012. 

Narayan holds bachelors and masters degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan.

Narayan is married to Alison Hardin Narayan. They have a son, Deen, who was born in 2013.

In the news

Guest Blogger: Rishi Narayan – Concentrate, Feb. 19, 2014

Underground Printing to open 4th Ann Arbor store in ex-Blockbuster Video – AnnArbor.com, May 30, 2012

Underground Printing owner continues to expand business – Michigan Daily, Sept. 16, 2011

Twenty in their 20s: Rishi Narayan – Crain's Detroit Business, 2010

T-shirt Flagship: Underground Printing emerges – Ann Arbor Observer, December 2009

Leaders & Innovators – Lawrence Technological University (date unknown)