Joseph Akintolayo is used to building businesses to help others, and this time he is targeting smaller banks.
Akintolayo’s company, Deposits, has created plug-and-play banking software that allows smaller financial firms to compete with larger ones with in-house tech teams.
His company is one of two Dallas startups selected for Google’s 2022 Black Founders Fund program which awards entrepreneurs $100,000 and effectively gives them a stamp of approval from one of the biggest tech companies on the planet.
The other North Texas winner is Marcus Cooksey, who founded an automated bookkeeping and bookkeeping software platform for trucking companies called DUKE.AI.
The Deposits selection came just a month after raising $5 million in seed funding led by Austin-based ATX Venture Partners.
Akintolayo, 32, of Dallas, calls his business “the bank’s Shopify.”
The depots, which have about 30 team members across the United States, can be profitable in 13 months, he said, barring a recession or other dramatic shifts in the economy. Last year the company made about $1 million in revenue and this year it is expected to double that. She works with 13 financial clients.
“I can’t email with a whole team of people,” he said. “We sell water in the desert for community banks and credit unions that are at risk of closing.”
In the digital age, having the best online banking platform is essential for banks to retain their customers and keep their doors open. Bank branch closures rose 38% in 2021 to a record 2,927, according to S&P Global. The United States has lost two-thirds of banking institutions since in the early 1980s, most of them small banks, according to the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
“Our whole vision is to reduce technological barriers so that we can reduce financial barriers,” he said.
Akintolayo said Google’s support means more than the $100,000 it spends on product development and marketing. He said he appreciates Google doing its part to uplift black founders.
There is a racial funding gap in the United States, with black-founded startups receiving just 1.2% of total venture capital dollars invested in the first half of 2022, according to Crunchbase.
“I don’t look like Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey,” Akintolayo said. “So you could do quite a miracle, and it’s easier for them to say, ‘Wow, that’s a miracle. It’s an isolated incident.
Akintolayo grew up going back and forth between Nigeria and Arlington before finally landing in Arlington with his family around the age of 10.
“It was idyllic. There’s actually a lot of diversity in Arlington,” he said.
He graduated from Holy Rosary Catholic School (now St. Joseph’s Catholic School) at age 16 with enough credits to make him a sophomore in college. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington.
“[The major] didn’t add much to my story,” he said. “Namely, I just wanted to do something hard to prove how smart I was, but that’s not necessarily important to who I am. It was more of a miscalculation.”
Before he knew it was a miscalculation, Akintolayo created his first startup, BioSculpt, in 2013 to 3D print medical devices and prosthetics.
“It crashed and burned,” he laughed. “It was an 18 month flash in the pan. I really should have made it a software startup, but it was hardware driven.
Akintolayo said he felt compelled to be an entrepreneur because he suffered from sickle cell anemia – where red blood cells have a shape that slows or blocks blood flow, a genetic condition that can require long stays in hospital. ‘hospital. One of her sisters died of the disease, which has no known cure.
“Before, I lived in the hospital,” he says. “Every year I would be in a hospital bed for two months out of the year.”
When he had a regular job, Akintolayo recalls his colleagues sometimes making up rumors or looking at him sideways because he was missing two weeks of work at a time.
“You seem perfectly healthy, but you are suffering from a serious illness,” he said. “It created this environment where it was just difficult, and that’s the case for a lot of people with chronic illnesses.”
Now Akintolayo receives treatments every five weeks at UT Southwestern. He fetches about 12 bags of new blood, which takes four to five hours.
“It was a game-changer,” he said. “Thanks to this, I was able to build a life for myself, so I no longer live in the hospital.”
After ditching BioSculpt, which fetched around $40,000, Akintolayo said he “healed his wounds” and learned to code. In 2017, he started a digital agency to create apps and websites. He called it PhilanthroLab after his love for philanthropy and his desire to use it for good, he said.
At the same time, he started an organization in Nigeria called Rennaissance Lab to give underserved communities the resources to become entrepreneurs. The organization is part coding school and part innovation lab. Some participants went on to work at Google, he said.
“I wanted to give people the opportunity to do what I do, which is to do things because I have the resources to do things,” he said. “Some people don’t even have internet or electricity.”
Around this time, he built a crypto exchange called YourEx.io which paid him 1% of user transactions and still exists under a different management. He also started a payment company called Renaissance Payments and made 1% on transactions. Deposits ended up buying Renaissance Payments.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Akintolayo got his first big recognition after creating a platform called MyCARESAct to help automate the process for black founders to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan to help to keep workers on the payroll. Rather than monetize it, he donated the website to the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, and it helped save over 100 black-owned businesses.
Akintolayo said he knew black founders would be at a disadvantage in getting emergency PPP loans. When the data was later released by the Federal Reserve, it showed that black-owned businesses were five times more likely than white-owned businesses to not receive a loan.
Around the same time, Akintolayo began advising black-founded financial firms and noticed that they didn’t know how to code or talk about technology.
“There is a huge information gap between what solution providers can offer and what buyers can understand,” he said. “There is no shared language, no shared platform.”
Akintolayo has therefore become a translator between the technology and banking sectors. At the recent FinovateFall 2022 conference in New York, he built a bank in seven minutes on stage using the Deposits platform.
“I created a platform with a shared language so that the people best placed to deliver financial services don’t get shut out by companies with unlimited budgets,” he said.
Akintolayo said he has already noticed a massive increase in interest in deposits since the announcement of the Google award on September 8.
“One of the challenges of being a black founder, or in the underrepresented space, is that #1 is so much harder,” he said. “No. 2 is a good thing. Right? You’re infinitely resilient.