Shola Akinlade is an IT expert, software engineer, and entrepreneur from Nigeria.
Who is Shola Akinlade?
Shola Akinlade is the co-founder and CEO of the payment-powering tech company, Paystack, the first Nigerian company to get into Silicon Valley-based accelerator, Y Combinator. Akinlade led the company into an $8 million seed funding and an acquisition deal worth $200 million with Stripe alongside talented colleagues. Years before establishing Paystack, Shola co-founded Precurio, an open-source collaboration platform. It was a flagship product of Klein Devort, his company with Mayowa Okegbenle. Precurio attracted over 200,000 businesses globally within five years. Following his experience with mobile payment solutions for several banks in Nigeria, Shola successfully created a technology powerhouse that accelerates the growth of businesses in Africa, Paystack.
Shola was born to his parents in Lagos, Nigeria. He completed his secondary education at St. Gregory’s college, Ikoyi, after which he proceeded to Babcock University, Ogun State, for a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in 2006. Soon after graduating, he worked with Heineken as a Database Manager and Management Trainee.
Two years into his employment under Heineken, Shola decided to leave the beer company to find his path as a creator.
He first strode into entrepreneurship after co-founding a software development and consulting company, Klein Devort, with his colleague, Mayowa Okegbenle, in 2008. They created their flagship product, Precurio, an open-source collaboration platform for startup businesses and the mid-enterprise segment. Launched on SourceForge, an open-source community resource, Precurio integrated six different language options. Within five years, more than 200,000 companies were using Precurio, with over 150,000 global software downloads. While he developed Precurio, banks began to contact Shola to help build their software and tools. Then, he gained extensive software development experience leading to his interest in mobile payments and empowering African businesses. Shola believed that the payment system needed improvement, and his expertise in mobile banking would make it possible. In 2015, Shola started Paystack as a payment resource for African businesses to exploit their explosive
potential in the global market. With co-founder Ezra Olubi, the “Stripe of Africa” became the first startup in Nigeria to enter Y Combinator, with support from Stripe itself. Today, Paystack processes more than 50% of all virtual payments in Nigeria, with over 60,000 businesses trusting its services.
Paystack is a technology powerhouse solving payment issues for businesses in Africa. The technology enables local and international payments via different channels, including debit cards, credit cards, and money transfers. Users can manage easy and secure transactions on the Paystack mobile app and website.
After its founding in 2015, Paystack joined the Silicon Valley-based accelerator in November and received a $120,000 funding. Following this achievement, they attracted more investors at the Demo Day and raised additional seed funding of $1.3 million. Shola mentioned that the funds were for accelerating product development, growing the sales and marketing operations, and expanding the engineering team.
In 2018 the company had Stripe, Tencent, and Visa as leading investors, raising $8 million in Series A funding. Then the 2020 coronavirus pandemic broke out, and the company witnessed a rapid increase in signups and clientele base. In October 2018, the company realized monthly transactions worth over N10 billion.
By 2020, Paystack already had thousands of businesses using its services, with its number of online transactions increasing by the day. The company joined Stripe through a $200,000 worth acquisition deal in October 2020, the largest acquisition in the history of Nigerian startups and Stripe itself.
As Stripe is limited to selected countries in Europe, Australia, and the USA, Paystack was an expansion strategy to reach the existing large market it had in the African fintech space. Even with the acquisition deal with Stripe, Paystack still operates independently, with Shola Akinlade as CEO. According to Akinlade, collaborating with Stripe was an avenue to accelerate the growth of payments within the continent and cut across Africa faster.
Shola’s vision for the company is to build the best talent in Africa and provide opportunities for innovative individuals who share the company’s mission. He wishes to set an engineering culture standard in Africa, with more skilled youths ready to upskill and gain experience irrespective of nationality or origin.
He plans to expand Paystack past Nigeria and across Africa. While the team has successfully branched out to Ghana and South Africa, Shola identified language as one barrier to partnerships in many other countries. But as he is determined, the Paystack team plans to take the challenge and scale themselves all over Africa.
Shola’s Net Worth
Shola Akinlade’s current net worth is approximately over $100 million. He earned this lucrative income as a successful software engineer and the salary from his creation, Paystack.
Awards and Recognitions
- Entrepreneur of the Year by Gage Awards (2021)
- The Future Awards Africa Prize for Technology (2020)