Bootstrapping a Unicorn in Dallas


Axxess founder John Olajide. | Image by Michael Samples, Dallas Innovates

Some billion-dollar ideas may be bootstrapped, others might be unicorns. But rarely are they both.

Axxess founder John Olajide has come a long way, from living with his family in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Lagos, Nigeria, to running a massive healthcare tech company based in Dallas.

If that were not impressive enough, he built his unicorn without any venture capital backing.

Unicorns” are privately held start-ups that achieve $1 billion-plus valuations.

In rare cases, like with Olajide, this milestone is reached via bootstrapping — growing with little to no initial investment or outside funding.

Olajide’s passion for entrepreneurship was ignited at a young age in Lagos. As a boy, he would help reconcile the cash from the family business.

“Growing up, I always knew I wanted to build a company… [and] I knew I had the ability to do so,” he said.

Olajide did not just want to make money; he wanted to make a difference. He wanted to help solve a significant issue, and he found one in healthcare.

“I wanted to create my own space and solve a problem that was big enough to be worth my while,” he said.

Olajide recognized a gap, and thus an opportunity, in the medical sector: an insufficient application of technology to at-home healthcare.

“We believe that the future of healthcare is in the home” and that “[t]echnology has shaped the evolution of healthcare in ways we don’t even realize,” according to the Dallas transplant.

“What Axxess does is provide the technology to empower the delivery of the highest quality care at home — and wherever people call home,” he explained.

At a young age, he left Lagos with his parents for North Texas. Eventually, he found his way to UT Dallas, becoming, like many others, a “very broke” college student.

While studying, he worked in IT, quickly learning that the “entire home healthcare industry [is] underserved from a technology perspective.”

With healthcare expenditures accounting for one-fifth of the U.S. GDP, Olajide was confident that opportunities existed. And so, in 2007, three years after graduating with a telecommunications engineering degree from UT Dallas, he launched Axxess. Fifteen years later, Axxess is active in 50 countries, serving over 3 million patients.

The company specializes in offering enterprise software solutions for at-home healthcare. Axxess helps companies in the industry grow by streamlining operations through improved scheduling, claims processing, and reporting, among other services.

The decision to bootstrap his vision helped Olajide stay “keenly connected” to the market. Also, potential backers may not have aligned with his vision, and bootstrapping meant he did not have to answer any investors.

Perhaps most importantly, though, “no one was going to give me money,” said Olajide.

With all his success, Olajide now wants to focus on helping others. He is convinced that anyone, no matter their background or life circumstances, can succeed, particularly here in Dallas, “where this community, especially, will support you.”

In 2019, a donation from Olajide helped UT Dallas create a computer science scholarship fund that he hopes will help others launch a career in tech.

He also supports his employees who decide to start a business. According to him, it is a “long-game” investment that will ultimately strengthen the entire entrepreneurial environment in North Texas. More opportunities for tech in Dallas ultimately mean that Axxess will have a large pool of qualified help to choose from in the future.

While entrepreneurship has been the “single hardest thing” he has ever done, Olajide would not change a thing.

“Failure is a form of art. Embrace it, learn from it, but don’t make the same mistake twice,” he said.

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Knobodi Nose
Knobodi Nose
3 months ago

after reading this I hav no idea what this guy does? journalism is dead