Our crush today is Shola Akinlade Founder and CEO of Paystack, a company that processes over 50% of all online payments in Nigeria and accelerate growth for businesses in Africa helping them launch new business models.
Shola Akinlade was born in Lagos, Nigeria and attended St Gregory’s College before proceeding to Babcock University for a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science. Fresh out of school, Akinlade worked as a Management Trainee and Database Manager with Heineken, but left after two years because he wanted to create things, rather than just be a management staff.
He took his first shot at entrepreneurship when he founded Klein Devort, a software development and consulting company, with his friend, Mayowa Okegbenle in 2008. Their flagship product, Precurio was designed as a collaboration and content management platform for the mid-enterprise segment and businesses in emerging markets. Akinlade said that the inspiration for the project was Dropbox. Within five years of running this company, the duo had grown their small idea and had over 200,000 companies using it. It had been downloaded over 150,000 times and was available in six different languages.
The success of Precurio opened Akinlade to more opportunities and some banks started reaching out to him to build software. It was in the course of executing these projects that the inspiration for Paystack came.
He always knew the state of payments wasn’t where it should be, but he didn’t think it was going to be him to provide solution. But just working with the banks, he just figured if there’s someone that can figure out payments, it probably will be him because he built world-class software before and now he have access and he understand how the financial system works.
Akinlade made Ezra Olubi, co-founder to achieve his aim and goals because Olubi had, in the past, worked on a payments company that did not pull through so he was the perfect choice of a partner for Akinlade. The challenge for them was to solve the issue of online payments in Africa by connecting the super-fragmented aspects of the financial sector.
Paystack launched in January 2016 and became the first Nigerian company to be accepted into the tech accelerator Y Combinator program, and received funding of $120,000.
Shola Akinlade rode on the back of this feat to secure the attention of more investors at the Demo Day and raised more seed funding amounting to $1.3 million. The funding was used to accelerate product development, build the engineering team, grow the sales and marketing operations.
Paystack current Net worth is over $100 million and it has come a long way since then, and now services hundreds of thousands of companies and major businesses.