Podcast Transcript – Series TWO, Episode 36
daricus Releford, storecash July 2021
[00:00:00] Daricus Releford: [00:00:00] Me and my twin brother, we came home one day and everything in the house was gone.
[00:00:11] My grandpa, he was the first black hotel owner in St. Louis.
[00:00:17] So we stayed out in our cars, right. It was about five hours. From our house.
[00:00:24] Drove like 12 hours out to Chicago and deliver these packages and got a call back.
[00:00:30] I would look over and telecon valley and I would see people very calm, relaxed, and their companies are worth billions of dollars.
[00:00:38] This new generation, they have not been in a physical bank location.
[00:00:43] We started StoreCash because my nephew called me and was asking me.
[00:00:47] My co-founders are amazing. They just do what they need to do.
[00:00:52] I do not think that people are racist in Silicon valley. I just think that they haven’t seen it from [00:01:00] us.
[00:01:00] You are normally right. And believe in yourself. Don’t second guess and move fast.
[00:01:04] You never know who’s going to be helpful.
[00:01:08] Dan: [00:01:08] What’s up Unfound Nation, Dan Kihanya here. Thanks so much for checking out another episode of Founders Unfound. That was Daricus Releford , founder and CEO of StoreCash, a company that provides mobile banking for teens, as well as for unbanked and underbanked adults.
[00:01:23] Daricus is the twin son of a mom in the military. And as you just heard, he came home one day as a kid to find that his dad had taken everything from the house. Since that fateful event, Daricus has, has been on an entrepreneurial journey. That’s gone from cutting lawns to building a FinTech startup in Silicon valley, along the way he’s had to persevere through college hustle, his first company into getting promotion by Steve Harvey to landing roles with Google, Facebook, and apple in Silicon valley.
[00:01:50] Daricus has, has a great story. You’ll want to listen.
[00:01:53] Our episode is sponsored by Trajectory Startup: Ideation to Product Market Fit. This is a brand new book by [00:02:00] entrepreneur and investor Dave Parker. This publication is the playbook for those at the earliest stages of the startup journey. Or even if you’re just contemplating the jump to entrepreneurship, this resource could save you literally years of time on your path.
[00:02:13] To get Dave’s book today. Look for a link in the show notes, or simply go to dkparker.com, amazon.com, or anywhere you buy your books.
[00:02:21] Before we continue, please make sure to like, and subscribe the podcast we’re available anywhere you get your podcasts. And if you like what you hear, drop us a review on apple or podchaser.com.
[00:02:31] Now on with the episode, stay safe and hope you enjoy it.
[00:02:48] Hello. Welcome to Founders Unfound, spotlighting, the best startups you don’t know. We bring you stories of exceptional founders from underrepresented and underestimated backgrounds. This is the latest episode in our continuing [00:03:00] series on founders of Africans. I’m your host, Dan Kihanya. Let’s get on it.
[00:03:05] Today, we have Daricus Releford founder and CEO of StoreCash,. A company that provides a mobile bank for teens and adults, allowing them to earn cash back at over 350 major retailers. And along the way, learn financial literacy. Welcome to the show, Daricus. We’re super excited to have you on. Thanks for making the time.
[00:03:26] Before we get started into who you are, let us step into what is exactly StoreCash. Can you tell us quickly what, what is StoreCash.
[00:03:35] Daricus Releford: [00:03:35] StoreCash is a way for teens and adults to allow them to request it instantly use funds directly from their phones. We start at StoreCash because my nephew called me and was asking me for money.
[00:03:46] So I told him to download them. Like we always do our cash app and I’ll send it over. And I later found out he not only needs to be 18 years or older, but he also need a bank account in order to receiving use those funds. And [00:04:00] then later we found out there are over 56 million unbanked adults that don’t have a way to receive or use farms directly.
[00:04:07] From their phones. So that’s when I started looking at solutions and we found a way to allow teens to do this via the mobile device and also these unbanked adults to provide a better way for them to not just learn financial literacy, but to also give them major discounts back at these retailers.
[00:04:28] Dan: [00:04:28] I love it.
[00:04:28] And I’ll tell you something, I’m an old dog long in the tooth 20 years ago, just about 20 years ago. I worked on this for an incubator way. This is before PayPal and we saw the need then. And so it’s amazing that there’s still that sort of hole in the market. So I’m, I’m super excited to dig more into StoreCash and how it works and the rest of the origin story.
[00:04:53] But let’s start off by understanding who Daricus is, is let’s. Let’s hear a little bit about where’d you grow up? Do you have [00:05:00] brothers and sisters? Tell us a little bit about where you come.
[00:05:04] Daricus Releford: [00:05:04] Yeah. So I’m a military brat. I actually started entrepreneurship when I was 12 and me and my twin brother, we came home one day and everything in the house has gone on our father.
[00:05:14] He had a drug addiction. This is maybe the 30th time of them taking everything out of our home to feed his drug addiction. So that’s when, I mean my twin brother, we wanted to help our mom at the time she was off on a military trip and we just asked our friend to borrow his lawnmower and start mowing.
[00:05:32] And the summer had just started by the end of the summer, we had about 3,800 and then we did this whole thing again. Next summer we did about 5,200 and that was at about 13. And then we moved and bought a hot dog cart with the earnings that we may from the lawnmower. Okay,
[00:05:54] Dan: [00:05:54] hold on. Whoa, hold on a second.
[00:05:56] Here you are. You’ve already told me about that or entrepreneurship that [00:06:00] most people do in their whole life. And you’re still, you’re still a young, young person, but I want to go back to that moment when you, I guess you said it happened before, but that moment when you come home and see there’s nothing there.
[00:06:11] I mean, did you think you were robbed or did you kind of know that this is possibly what, what your dad did or how did you react? And we
[00:06:19] Daricus Releford: [00:06:19] pretty much knew what it was cause we hadn’t dealt with it all of our lives. Previously to that moment, we just hoped that, you know, this time our mom, she was on a military trip for a few months and we hope that he would try to do his part and help out that day.
[00:06:36] We came home. We knew we had to do something. Cause my mom, she was trying to do what she could to take care of the family. And we were only 12, but we say we were the men of the house. So it was a pivotal moment. I
[00:06:49] Dan: [00:06:49] can only imagine. I mean, it’s, it’s amazing to me that at that age you had the maturity and I guess the grasp of like, this needs a [00:07:00] solution because there’s many people in that situation, especially that young would be like, let me go find the system or some other safety net, right?
[00:07:08] There’s many, many possible solutions to that situation. The fact that you decided to be an entrepreneur are you and your brother decided to be entrepreneurial is pretty amazing to me.
[00:07:19] Daricus Releford: [00:07:19] I don’t know at the time it was one to help our mom. We know she had so much that she was trying to do with us. And there was three of us total, I guess, went into helping the family mode and just try to help her the best.
[00:07:34] Dan: [00:07:34] That’s pretty amazing. I’m super impressed. I mean, me as a 12 year old, I was lucky enough to do a paper route and that sometimes overwhelmed me. So, so you started to talk about sort of this process of mowing lawns, and then you started to talk about a hot dog cart. Tell us a little bit more about.
[00:07:52] Daricus Releford: [00:07:52] When we mowed lawns for that next two years with the military, of course you move.
[00:07:58] And we moved and another [00:08:00] company, it was pre-surgery and that was, was doing all the lines on the whole military installation at the new location. So that’s when we want it to find something else that we can do and keep us busy. So we then bought a hotdog. My mom, we told her we want a hot dog cart. She looked on eBay and then we drove like 15 hours to go get this thing and brought it back.
[00:08:25] And we started our first event that was at stone soul picnic in DC and Maryland area. From there, we would do that on the different holidays and events on the weekends and do really well.
[00:08:39] Dan: [00:08:39] I’m just blown away. I mean, I mean, this is old school. Grind it hustle type entrepreneurship and to do so there’s some instinct obviously built into one or both of you about this.
[00:08:52] And this is always a question that comes up when we talk to other founders is like, was this something inside of you waiting to get out? Or was it nurtured? And [00:09:00] it emerged, but I it’s pretty clear that you had sort of this instinct and, and maybe, maybe it was out of necessity, but like I said, there’s people could have gone in different directions.
[00:09:09] So that’s pretty amazing. So were you doing this through high school?
[00:09:13] Daricus Releford: [00:09:13] Yeah, we did the hot dog cards, which later turned into a concession stand all throughout our high school career. Right. We were doing about $6,000 on weekends at different shows. Then we went to be a really well, it was fine.
[00:09:29] Dan: [00:09:29] One question popped into my mind.
[00:09:31] It’s really interesting is so having a parent who’s in the military, you know, the interesting thing about the military, it totally prepares you in some ways for potentially being an entrepreneur. But at the same time, it’s also very rigid, very structured, very there’s a lot of rules and you follow those rules to the letter and entrepreneurship almost sometimes is it is kind of the opposite, right?
[00:09:52] It’s like there is no rules. And so you’ve got to make them up as you go along or find your way through. Was your mother supportive [00:10:00] of your entrepreneurial instincts in a way that felt like not just, this is great because you’re helping the family, but did she support you in a way that was, you can keep doing this.
[00:10:09] Like this could be who you are.
[00:10:12] Daricus Releford: [00:10:12] So earlier years when we were much younger, my mother, she would sell clothes and boutiques and different things like that. And my grandpa, which of course I’ve never met or real early in my years, he was, he owned a hotel. He was the first black hotel owner in St. Louis.
[00:10:33] Dan: [00:10:33] Ah, there it is.
[00:10:35] So it’s it. It’s in the DNA. It’s in the blood. I get it now. Yeah.
[00:10:40] Daricus Releford: [00:10:40] He was pretty big deal in St. Louis. My mom, she had that entrepreneurial spirit. We always, of course, wanted to kind of get into it after we saw her and just took off.
[00:10:54] Dan: [00:10:54] That’s awesome. And so, as you were thinking about college or after high school, how did you [00:11:00] think about what was next?
[00:11:01] I mean, did you, did you think about business? Did you think about, well, this has gotten me to a certain point through growing up and now I’m going to go on to be a doctor or something else. I mean, how did you think. Where your life was going to go, as you were thinking about college
[00:11:16] Daricus Releford: [00:11:16] coming out of high school, having a single parent, it was difficult to pay for, especially both of us, right.
[00:11:24] To go through college at the same time. So that was part of the reason why we wanted to do the concession stand more towards coming out of college, but we still didn’t have enough money. So we went to Penn state and throughout that time, Difficult kind of put the funds together for a dorm. So we stayed out in our cars, right?
[00:11:46] It was about five hours away from our house. So we stayed in our cars, our first semester college, so that we could just go into college because we wanted to do entrepreneurship, but [00:12:00] we didn’t want to go into business. So we had to find a specific direction and kind of go, we went in to a construction management so that we could have a choice.
[00:12:11] Also have a management degree along with it. So we went to school and that first year we, we stayed out in our cars, but then throughout college, a lot of time, we did a lot of these different businesses to kind of keep us occupied because when you’re not occupied, you get in trouble. Right. So we want to keep ourselves occupied and into something positive.
[00:12:37] Throughout college. We then wanted to start another company. And about midway through college, we found out what it was, and it was very thinking of women driven, right? So we started a chocolate covered strawberry business where we shipped chocolate covered strawberries. All across the U S because we [00:13:00] wanted it to be online.
[00:13:01] Did you
[00:13:01] Dan: [00:13:01] do this? And you and I, that at this point, I assumed you had a dorm room. Did you kind of make these in the dorm room? Or
[00:13:07] Daricus Releford: [00:13:07] we were planning out how we were going to do it. And then towards the end, we then started the business more at our home, not in the dorm. More like, as we were driving back and forth to our college, we started in Harrisburg.
[00:13:23] We were driving back and forth to steak house. It was fun. It was also a lot of work with college.
[00:13:30] Dan: [00:13:30] I’m Jay. I was about to say, I’m trying to track this you’re commuting essentially, and start off living in the car, which is blows my mind. You’re commuting, you’re running a business. This is not like it’s like a social media business where you just do it a couple of hours every now and then this is like, you know, shipping stuff.
[00:13:47] You’re doing college. And I think I saw that you had a couple of degrees, so maybe you were doing. Did you like get one degree between the two of you and the 2 48 hours? Because the two of you would like inter entertained each other or [00:14:00] something. How were you able to do all this in college?
[00:14:03] Daricus Releford: [00:14:03] Well, I got a total of three degrees, two associates and a bachelor’s.
[00:14:08] My brother got a associates, two certificates and a bachelor’s I think we just, we w we liked to stay busy, I guess. And do as much as we can because we value time. And that’s why we, like, instead of taking off that year to go into college, we stayed in our cars at first year. Cause we were like, we don’t want to take this whole year of our lives and we know what we need to do and not do that.
[00:14:36] So if this is what we have to do, we need to do it. So that we can get out of college and get, get on with our lives. I think that we just packed a lot of stuff in as much as we could to get it done.
[00:14:50] Dan: [00:14:50] It’s impressive for Sarah. And I’m definitely seeing a theme of both practicality and resilience married with looking ahead, looking to the [00:15:00] future and being mindful of where you’re going with that.
[00:15:03] Sometimes it’s hard to do both of those at the same time. It’s the head down and up at the same time. Tell me a little bit, I know that the chocolate covered strawberry business actually did pretty well. Tell us a little more about that.
[00:15:14] Daricus Releford: [00:15:14] It was. So we started with about 25,000 and that was towards our senior year, our fourth year of college as a senior year, fourth year of college.
[00:15:26] And when we got out of school, that’s when we really started trying to ramp up that 25,000 went like that. And we thought it was a lot of money at the time, a lot of money at all. We got about 250,000 in inventory, started the website and it was. I try to find some cool creative ways to market the company.
[00:15:45] I found a way to get in touch with the CEO of TLC and discovery. So it was, you know, I’ll try to find a unique way to get her attention at the time. And then tried to see if I could use [00:16:00] this way in order to get other people’s attention. I use our chocolate or strawberry act as a for delivery. I delivered this box to four different people in the TLC and discovery office.
[00:16:14] And these four different people are four different people that she would normally talk to. I did a lot of research on online when I sent these boxes out. I didn’t tell the other person that I sent boxes too. But I knew that they would talk and when they talk, they will find out and then it would be more of a talking and, well, I hope for that, at least I did that.
[00:16:37] And I then think it worked because it was three weeks later, I heard nothing back and I said, okay, did it work? We need to like, move on. Right. And figure out like something else. And then I got a call back and that’s all I needed, like one call back. And that call back. Got me the [00:17:00] confidence to then try this with Steve Harvey show.
[00:17:04] So me and my twin brother drove. 12 hours out to Chicago and deliver these packages and got a call back. And then these Steve Harvey. Yes. Yeah, yeah. His TV show. And then once we got a call back, we try to then also with Kiplinger magazine and in DC, I had inside person there and they knew when everybody met up and they met up on Wednesdays.
[00:17:32] I think it’d be 11 o’clock. So I delivered it around 10 30. Met together at that time, all these boxes came to him. So then we got a front page and Kiplinger. So that’s how we actually marketed the company to give it kind of brilliant
[00:17:50] Dan: [00:17:50] out to people. That’s a, that’s a perfect example of working smart. I mean, you’re still working hard and you could have sent it to random people in those companies or trying to [00:18:00] set it to everybody, which would have been expensive.
[00:18:01] Right. But you’re very strategic about it. Very guerrilla marketing. I love, I love it. Man you have some natural abilities. If I was going to write a superhero story about a entrepreneur, I would have to definitely base it on you.
[00:18:18] What happens with what was the name of the company? Tea berries, tea berries. Right.
[00:18:22] Daricus Releford: [00:18:22] And we called it tea berries because it was like twins and our buddy. So you probably know him. His name is Leshaun McCoy running back for the
[00:18:32] Dan: [00:18:32] Eagles. I don’t know him know him, but I know who he is. Yeah.
[00:18:36] Daricus Releford: [00:18:36] He was a, we went to high school with really, really good friends throughout high school.
[00:18:41] And his nickname for us was toy. We were like, why don’t we call it? Twiggy’s and I was like, Twiggy, these berries. And like, that’s what we called in, for sure. It was tea berries. So twins Twiggy’s it worked out
[00:18:54] Dan: [00:18:54] nice. Well, we’re going to hear more from their kids in a moment, but we’re going to take a short break and we’ll be right back [00:19:00] with Daricus.
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[00:20:14] So we’re back with Daricus. So Daricus has tell us, I know you also spent some time in Silicon valley. Tell us about how that happened, because that seems like a, almost like a detour, but maybe there was a grand plan behind all this entrepreneurial stuff and then going into Silicon valley. So tell us a little bit about.
[00:20:32] Daricus Releford: [00:20:32] So after we built up tea, berries and layer exited the company, I always wanted to be in tech. I was like super, super excited about being in tech. And at the time I was like 25, 26, and I said, I don’t do it now. I’ll never do it. So like hopped in my car. And drove across country to Silicon valley. And I told myself, I said, well, I’ll [00:21:00] try it out for a summer and see how it goes.
[00:21:01] But I was hoping that it went well, so I could stay.
[00:21:12] Yeah in military, you kind of get used to it, but then yeah, I got here and start meeting people and talking to people and landed a job at apple and then got a chance to work at Google. I’m sorry, apple, Google. And then after that Facebook, I did data analytics and program coordinating and program manager.
[00:21:37] The different companies and got super lucky. Cause there’s so many people that have been trying to work at these companies that are in this area for years. And I mean, I like to call it luck. I got lucky, but got a chance to work with these companies and saw how they operated because I was so confused.
[00:21:57] How some people [00:22:00] like, especially our community. I knew a lot of people that were in business and they worked their butts off me included. Right. And then I would look over and Silicon valley and I would see people very close, relax, and their companies are worth billions of dollars after two, three years.
[00:22:19] And I’m like, the heck is going on. Okay. So I got a chance to like being inside and see these massive companies and how they operated. And it was like a dream come true. And once I got a chance to see, I started realizing that a lot of these people are getting fun. And getting funded by VC firms, getting funded by angel investors.
[00:22:43] Once they’re funded, then they’re getting more funds to do more and they’re getting funded because he’s a high growth, potential opportunities. And that was pretty impressive to kind of see it in real time. I also went to like all [00:23:00] these like startup events. And there was this new company called tile and they said, they’re going to take on the world.
[00:23:06] And they were looking for people to join the company. And it’s just cool to be able to see these companies and have they’ve. Throughout the time I was working at these bigger companies and my nephew, when he texts me and asks me for money. And that’s when I told him, you know, download them our cash app.
[00:23:24] And I later found out he’s a teen. He can’t, he needs that bank account he’s under 18. And that then what got my wheels kind of spinning and trying to see if I can solve the problem. And
[00:23:35] Dan: [00:23:35] so, first of all, coming to Silicon valley from a place where. You didn’t have tech experience. You didn’t have tech networks and.
[00:23:45] Successfully navigating into those three companies is somewhat lucky, but it’s not a hundred percent lucky. Let me tell you it’s about you. But what I’m interested to know though, before we dive into StoreCash, is when you, when [00:24:00] you looked at those experiences, you looked at those companies and you saw, you know, from the inside kind of what was going on.
[00:24:05] Did that encourage you or embolden you to say, I can do this, or did you already have that in your mind? Like, this is just another. Kind of perspective that I can bring to my next entrepreneurial journey. I
[00:24:17] Daricus Releford: [00:24:17] always wanted to start a tech startup, but I wanted to know. These people had that I didn’t have.
[00:24:26] And is that why, you know, I haven’t been able to build a billion dollar company. And then when I realized what it was, I said, I can do this too, but the only problem was. At the time there’s, there was not very many and, and still black people that are doing this. I was brown at least two to 3%, if not just 1% of every company that was that.
[00:24:53] And, you know, There was a lot of gimme opportunity sitting and [00:25:00] researching who recruiters were sitting and trying to get them to give me a shot. So even, you know, get my first foot in the door. So a lot of it, I guess wasn’t complete luck, but passing the tests was pretty difficult, but you know, it was something to try to find it.
[00:25:20] The secrets there’s always any, any industry or anything that you do there is there’s shortcuts and there’s ways to get to where you need to be or where you want to be. But you have to do your research to find out what others are doing and how can you shorten up that process. So that was part of going through the steps and know, hopefully getting into these companies and seeing how this whole thing.
[00:25:47] Dan: [00:25:47] So tell us now you have this epiphany with your nephew. So how does that translate into, okay, I’m going to start a company to fix it.
[00:25:56] Daricus Releford: [00:25:56] I had this epiphany with my nephew and [00:26:00] I realized that I needed a team, especially after all the different startup events that I went to. And I only knew a few people. So I started on a journey of trying to find.
[00:26:14] And that was like an impossible journey. I felt like trying to find a team that was going to be as devoted and willing to go through the tough times, because I knew they were coming and looking at the bright side on the other end. So I started looking for my team and at the time, especially with the way rent is here, it’s very expensive.
[00:26:39] So on weekends I would Uber and. When I Ubered, I would also talk to people on, on the rise. It was kind of like a way for me, like meet people and, you know, get people’s perspective. And I met some really cool. Isn’t
[00:26:55] Dan: [00:26:55] that amazing. Uber’s been around long enough. Cause I remember when you sit in the [00:27:00] front seat and you talk to the driver about what, like what’s going on in their life and it’s not so much as much anymore, a little bit, but isn’t that amazing.
[00:27:07] Now it’s been around long enough that it’s evolved that way, but that makes a lot of sense that you would seeing who you are as a person. That makes sense that you’d be inquisitive. That.
[00:27:15] Daricus Releford: [00:27:15] People here are very awkward, not in a bad way. They’re awkward because they’re more socially awkward. Um, once you start talking to them and then they start talking, but it was a good way to kind of break it up a little bit.
[00:27:27] And one day I met a guy, his name was Ben Kat, and I remember the ride and I was talking to him and he was talking back and he was like, oh, so what are you doing here? And I said, well, you know, you know, look for somebody to start a company with. I want to build out this car. Right. You know, I’m looking for developers and he was like, oh really?
[00:27:49] Okay. So what type of developer do you need? I was like, oh, you know, an app developer for Android, iOS, definitely some backend and a few other things. And it’s like, oh, [00:28:00] so what are you working on? And I started telling him, you know, what I want to do? And he said, well, what makes you think that you can do this?
[00:28:06] And I said, well, I said, I, you know, I’ve done a few things. And I built a few different companies before. And I told him the things that I did and he was like, oh, okay, okay. By the end of the ride, he was like, oh my God, you really did do all this. And I’m like, what do you mean? He said, oh, I’m looking you up online.
[00:28:28] You really did do all of it. I see. Yeah. I wouldn’t, if I didn’t do it right. And he said, no, what? You can actually pull this off. He said, let’s talk later. So I talked with him later and he said, let’s try to build this thing. So VIN cat, who’s an Indian guy. So he didn’t introduce me to his friends. And there’s a reason why I say he’s Indian, but he introduced me to his friends.
[00:28:55] Yeah. He got three or four of his friends to help me build this [00:29:00] thing. Then shortly thereafter, he had to go back to India because of visa issues. And he said, Hey, I’m glad that I could help, but you can take it from here and connecting me with all his friends. And we’ve been moving since then. It’s been about two and a half years.
[00:29:18] And so the rest of my co-founders, they didn’t get paid for like a year and a half. At least probably around a year and a half to two years. And they kept working and believing in this like dream that I had. So we then got into Techstars and then that’s when everything started kind of working itself out.
[00:29:41] But it was just amazing, like that one.
[00:29:46] Dan: [00:29:46] That’s a great story. So let let’s, let’s take a step back and just dive a little bit more into the product and tell us a little bit, how does it work exactly? How does, how does StoreCash work? Maybe give us an example of how it would be used.
[00:29:58] Daricus Releford: [00:29:58] First, we started off with [00:30:00] market fit and we had found a way to allow unbank users to request an insulin.
[00:30:05] Use funds the barcodes at these 350 retailers, and we had made a seven to 15% kickback. And then. This allowed those users to buy whatever they need to buy at these Walmarts targets, five guys, any of the 350 major retailers, they, they could do it via barcode on our platform. And we did it to try to find market fit, to try to find who who’s using this.
[00:30:33] Why do they need it? How can we improve the process? Whatever, and it all kept coming back to building a bank. So a user would use it a few times and then say, this is amazing, but I need to now put my deposit into my StoreCash count. How can I do that? And we were like, we don’t have those capabilities. So then they will go to China and it will always be the majority of teams [00:31:00] using this.
[00:31:01] That’s when we said, okay, I think we’ve pretty much found market fit. We need to build this out. And yeah. The banking feature. But also now, since we get that seven to 15% back, we can then give that percentage back to the actual user and incentivize them to get this bank account with us. And that way we can also teach them financial literacy and everything else.
[00:31:23] So we’ve built out the banking platform, race and funds, and we’ll be launching and.
[00:31:31] Dan: [00:31:31] That’s awesome. Now turning into a bank or offering banking. I know cause I have a FinTech business. There’s lots of regulations and scrutiny around security and fraud issues. You got to face. I guess the first question is, were you expecting all that or are you ready for all of that?
[00:31:48] When you thought about expanding the platform?
[00:31:51] Daricus Releford: [00:31:51] No,
[00:31:54] Dan: [00:31:54] I wasn’t either when we, when we went through it. So,
[00:31:58] Daricus Releford: [00:31:58] so with the [00:32:00] barcodes, it was actually worse and we found a way to solve the solution of fraud, partnering with a company, and then using other companies to collect data and come out with an answer of, yes, this is the actual person.
[00:32:15] And then now with the bank, we’ll also. There SSN, which will run a KYC on them. Um, so it would be even more secure. But at first, no, we, man, we were like, oh, we’re getting users and we were not you back.
[00:32:32] Dan: [00:32:32] Right. Yeah. It’s interesting. When you have a business that has potential to have holes in it, it seems like the people who are looking for that jump on it right away because they feel, yeah.
[00:32:43] Oh, they’re just building this now. They’re not even thinking about security yet. And so they, they hop in there and all of a sudden you’re like, Hey, wait a minute. We’re just getting going. Why are you picking on us? All of a sudden. And just for our audience, SSN is social security number and KYC is know your customer.
[00:32:57] And these are terms that in the financial world [00:33:00] are, have to do with essentially identifying that you’re a real person and that you are who you say. So tell us a little bit about the journey journey into Silicon valley startup land and hiring people and building team culture and those kinds of things.
[00:33:15] Have those, have those things been preeminent and kind of what you do as a CEO?
[00:33:20] Daricus Releford: [00:33:20] Moving here got me to understand a major piece to business and especially working at some of these major companies got me to understand some, some massive pieces within business that I had no clue of. And part of it was how to treat employees, how to treat co-founders, how to treat just people in general.
[00:33:49] You, this is more on the east coast and I hate to say more on the east coast, but when you think of a boss, you think of a person [00:34:00] telling you what to do and making you do this. You need to do this and micromanaging and. To work at some of these bigger companies and some of these companies that are hiring, you know, these Stanford grads and these Harvard grads, the difference is that they treat you more like a peer, more so than a boss.
[00:34:24] And it actually makes you do more work and better work because it’s on you at that point. Your boss, didn’t tell you, they’re saying we trust you. We believe that you’ll be able to pull it off. Good luck and you kind of go at it and figure it out. And then of course, if you need help, they’ll help you. But it was a different way of interacting with coworkers managers, actually various, no word of boss in Silicon valley it’s managers that got me to understand.
[00:34:58] You don’t need to be a [00:35:00] Butthead in order to get things done, you can just be an easy going person. If you get responsible people and good people they’ll do their job. My co-founders are amazing. They just do what they need to do. And I do what I need to do. And it’s like four of me, more so than me telling them exactly what to do.
[00:35:24] And yeah, there was, you know, a little bit of learning curve when we started off, because we need to understand and learn from each other. But since then, it’s been awesome. So. That piece of business here in, in how to treat employees and how to treat co-founders. And that’s been a part of how I wanted our culture to be.
[00:35:49] At StoreCash. And one thing, you know, with our previous company that I wanted to change, what StoreCash is when a person does something or does something [00:36:00] good, or even just does what they’re supposed to do, say something positive. And if a person makes a mistake and help them fix it, but also tell them something positive that they did while trying to do it.
[00:36:12] And that’s that culture that I really want to create the StoreCash so that you feel good when you come here. You don’t feel like it’s a job. You feel like, Hey, if I do this really well, someone’s going to say something positive. And of course I want that. So I’m going to do it really well. And no one’s going to micromanage me.
[00:36:31] They’re going to tell me, you know, what they guys should do. And yeah, sometimes I override and I say, we need to do this, but overall they have their creative opportunity to be as creative as they want at StoreCash. And that has been pivotable for me because I’m very, as that coroner often change this and change that.
[00:36:55] Now I actually learning a lot more than, than I used to being, [00:37:00] uh, not know at all, but no at all. And then I’m actually learning, oh, hold up a second. There might be something here I need to.
[00:37:08] Dan: [00:37:08] That’s a great approach. And, and it’s thank you for sharing about the evolution. I think I went through that too, of the irony and the paradox of like, if I don’t try to do it all myself and make all the decisions myself, which I think it makes it more efficient.
[00:37:22] It’s the opposite. If you, if you empower people, And give them both accountability. And then like you’re talking about encouragement and make them feel joy about what they’re doing and the journey they get a heck of a lot more done than you can do on your own. Plus they bring new ideas and diverse perspective.
[00:37:37] So I think that’s super healthy. And w one of the keys I think to success for a lot of startups is how you build the culture, particularly when the company’s early, so that people are emulating the way you want it. So, but we’re going to take another short break and we’ll be right back with Daricus from StoreCash.
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[00:39:01] Dan: [00:39:01] sold. Get it today. So we’re back with Daricus this, uh, before we move on to some other topics, tell us, what’s your big vision for StoreCash. If you’re going to say StoreCash is a wild success in some number of years, and whenever you can have that sort of big success, what does that look like for you?
[00:39:19] What would that, what would that feel?
[00:39:21] Daricus Releford: [00:39:21] It would be very similar to Venmo and cash app just in the teen and unbanked adult space. And I think we all can agree that banks are not going to be physical locations within the next day. Easily banks are kind of going out as we speak, right. And these Neal banks are going to be the new bank for adults.
[00:39:48] Now, the thing about it is, is the adults that are already connected. Some of these physical bank locations will stay at those locations most like, but this new [00:40:00] generation that’s coming up, they have not been in a physical bank location at least for the last five to 10 years. So we believe that this is a massive opportunity to not judge.
[00:40:14] Provide an opportunity for these teens and then these unbanked adults, but to provide a new way to bank in the space. And I know other people are in the space, but I also believe that with the amount of discounts that we’re able to get at these major retailers, And how the people that are unbanked, how they’re lower income individuals and how teens need to know, especially in our community, more financial literacy.
[00:40:40] I believe that it’s touching a lot of key points that allows us to be popular in these different categories and sectors.
[00:40:48] Dan: [00:40:48] I see great vision, uh, aiming high and you’re right. We’re in a revolutionary, not at least evolutionary time when physical. Branches and [00:41:00] clerks and people who move paper back and forth, it’s all going away.
[00:41:04] And the good news is, as you said, it’s not just about like, it’s more cost efficient to do digital. It’s like the next generation. They don’t have time for that. They’re not going to go stay in a line at some bank during their lunch hour just to cash a check or whatever. So, so I think you’re right on, right on the money.
[00:41:21] So let’s switch gears a little bit. Let’s talk a little bit about your journey as a black founder. One question. I have, you know, you talked a little bit about being in Silicon valley and how you’re, you know, you were part of a small representation in the bigger companies you were with. How do you feel about, so stepping out as a black founder, do you feel like that that’s something that you’re reminded of in a way that makes it feel like it’s a, uh, an extra challenge on an, on a regular basis?
[00:41:48] Or is that something that you don’t think about? Day-to-day. I
[00:41:52] Daricus Releford: [00:41:52] like the way you worded that, because it’s both. So as a black founder, being black in tech, [00:42:00] So California of course is very inclusive just place, but I think we need to get better at naming things for what they are as, as just black people. And I do not think that people are racist in Silicon valley and well, I’m sure there’s a group, right.
[00:42:18] But the majority, I don’t think that they’re racist. I just think that they haven’t seen it. It from us. And if I’m standing in a room of 10 white guys, and then there’s just me, that one black guy and yeah, all of these guys are hardware. Right. Um, all of these guys are from these massive schools, right. And in my credentials exceed all of them.
[00:42:41] And the rest of the team is white. Who are you going to. I have nine times out of 10. You’re probably not going to get it probably even more than that. So you have to find a unique way to either acknowledge that, get the other person to see that, or find a unique [00:43:00] way to stand out amongst them. And if you were, for example, looking for a rapper, right.
[00:43:07] And there was nine black guys and one white guy. Oh, which one are you going to cheat in? This is the part that’s messed up about the U S and just stereotypes and in everything and in the S it’s a problem, but it’s also good for you to understand how it operates so that you can understand how to. And if you scream racist, then it is a standoff term for these people.
[00:43:39] And then they say, oh, I’m not racist. I don’t like his attitude. Boom, you’re already like, so the way I kind of approach it, which is funny how I approach fundraising. When I was talking to investors, I told all of them, I said, I know I’m raising funds. I know you’ve never seen him before. Probably anyone black.
[00:43:58] You’ve probably never [00:44:00] funded before I said, but these are my credential. And I just need an opportunity. If I get an opportunity, you’ll be able to see something that you’ve never been able to see before. And it’s funny that whole conversation that I would normally have with my investors is why a lot of my investors invested in me and gave me a shot.
[00:44:18] And you know, to this day, I think that they’re happy with me. I know my Techstars investor. He actually told me no. And I told him this, you know, I said, I don’t think, I think it’s unconscious bias is happening due to not being able to see this actually happened in, you know, the black community, but be that person that makes the change and gives me the opportunity.
[00:44:43] And I won’t take it for granted, you know, I’m gonna work 10 X harder than everybody else. And then he gave me the opportunity. And from there expanded for me.
[00:44:52] Dan: [00:44:52] That’s pretty interesting. So we should try and unpack that a little bit. So you, so you brought it to his attention. It was at him and you brought it, [00:45:00] brought it to his attention, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that, that they would agree or buy into it.
[00:45:04] Like what, how did you, how did you help to aluminate that for him in a way that said this is unconscious bias and here’s, here’s how it’s manifested itself? Not just the fact that I, I got a, either quick, no, or no one, I didn’t really think I was less than some of these other folks. How did you show him that?
[00:45:20] Because this is something that a lot of people struggle. And like you said, it’s hard for us sometimes to be the ones to have to call things out, because then you can get sort of this label of, you know, rabble-rousing or whatever, which is ridiculous, but it is what it is. So I’m just curious if you want to share any, like, how did you help him?
[00:45:37] Daricus Releford: [00:45:37] I got a whole bunch of notes. That’s why I got them. And to be quite honest, one of our top competitor is a person that I was talking to about my idea. And he, he ran off raised almost $200 million. So it’s here. It is here. It’s you know, these issues are there. You know, when I [00:46:00] first got here, I was very frustrated with a lot of things.
[00:46:03] And you know, when you get frustrated, you want to combat them with frustration, which can be perceived as anger. And you already know, they assume black people are angry and then it gives them exactly what they thought. And then it backfires. So when I first got here, there was a lot of, a lot of that from me, myself and my frustrations.
[00:46:26] And then I. Okay. What I have to do. And I know I’m kind of a little bit all over the place here, but it was eye-opener for me, myself. I said, what I have to do is I have to act like the things that have happened in my life never happened. And I have to live as if I’m from a wealthy background. And everything in my life is okay.
[00:46:48] And I think that I can trick people and not trick trick, but trick people into believing that I’m one of them just darker skin tone. And if I do that [00:47:00] successfully, then all I have to do is overcome the unconscious bias. And everything that I try to look at in my life, try to look at it as strategically as possible, because it normally helps me get through the difficult parts.
[00:47:15] That was the first step. But when I got the, I don’t know, I just don’t know why, but I don’t think it’s going to work for them. Those answers are the ones that turned to the yeses. And those were the answers of, I like this guy. I like what he’s doing, but I just don’t know. I just don’t think that it’s going to work.
[00:47:34] And I don’t think it’s gonna work. Is that unconscious bias? Because like, to get a person to say yes, to a hundred thousand or $500,000 or $50,000. You need to have it. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Right. And getting a yes. Yes, yes. And then a no normally comes from that unconscious bias. So if you can explain that to them and then they can understand it.
[00:47:59] And [00:48:00] then I would always act, I would say, is there anything. Is a yes. Or is there anything that’s a specific reason why you said no, and if it isn’t, then it’s unconscious bias and you got to give me opportunity. And that is how I would get past that.
[00:48:17] Dan: [00:48:17] Man you are, you are courageous warrior. That takes a lot to step out on that plank because you never know how people react to that.
[00:48:25] So let’s switch the question around a little bit. I mean, you’ve obviously been successful. We, we, we’ve already identified that you have planet Krypton blood in you and you’re you’re, you’ve got super powers, but tell, talk about, have there been people, organizations, events, experiences that have been uplifting or helpful for you as a
[00:48:43] Daricus Releford: [00:48:43] black woman?
[00:48:44] I’m going to be honest, I’ve had, maybe I can count on my hand about, you know, a small amount of people that, that helped me out throughout this tough time and figure this whole thing out. It one was a guy named Lester. He was Asian. He just [00:49:00] met me because another lady that helped me out and, uh, she was a white lady and he helped me.
[00:49:08] Formulate high should do this whole thing. And then help me along the steps that he had raised a total of like $3.7 million and was just so darn helpful even said, Hey, you want to work out of our office, you know? Cause I know you didn’t raise funds. So that’s why it’s hard for me to say. You never know who’s going to be helpful.
[00:49:30] Right. Even with tech, there was a person that was just hired for a diversity and inclusion and the previous program. Cause I, I apply for texts on it. They’d be three or four times, if not one. And I had told him, I think the previous one was unconscious bias and. He then helped me find the person that got me into program actually got into.
[00:49:58] And he was a black man, [00:50:00] so he was just awesome. Um, he actually left Techstar since, but he was awesome. And then I think the rest were white and Asian people. And then Mario Marlon Nichols, he heard my story. You invested a half, a million dollars into me and our team. Yeah. Can’t thank him. Enough is awesome.
[00:50:20] The William mucker capital, he’s the first investor outside of Techstars that, that invested and Techstars, Ethan, it’s a mix. It’s a mix of, I think two A’s, you know, a white lady, uh, two white guys, two black eyes. So you never know where it comes from. And then you can’t, you know, one thing in our communities, we, at least in my family, we assume anything else that anybody outside of our community is probably out to get us.
[00:50:50] And it was hard for me. I didn’t know who was trying to get me, who wasn’t trying to get me and what was going on, but, you know, that was another thing about [00:51:00] coming out here. It opened up my eyes to see that anybody can be helpful and help you get to where you need to go. So just be open, I guess, and hope for the best.
[00:51:14] Dan: [00:51:14] great that you identify that people can come from different places and it’s about their willingness, their attitude, their I, in my opinion, their recognition of somebody worth betting on and your case. So we had such a great conversation here, but we’re coming to the end of our time. So one of the things we always like to ask is.
[00:51:32] Is sort of this proverbial question. If you could go back before you were an entrepreneur, but since you were an entrepreneur at a very early, we’ll say, if you could go back to before you started StoreCash and talk to that, Daricus is and say here’s some things to think about too. Definitely do or definitely not do or perspectives to have.
[00:51:50] What kind of advice would this Derrick has given that they’re.
[00:51:54] Daricus Releford: [00:51:54] In yourself. I know this sounds super cocky, but you are normally right. And believe in yourself. Don’t second [00:52:00] guess move fast. And I was going to say be more, more appreciative of people along the way, but, um, so I think people are, they say, as I say, thank you too much.
[00:52:09] So I think I’m pretty appreciative, but I even want to be more appreciative because.
[00:52:15] Dan: [00:52:15] I love it. And you’re so right. I mean, and unfortunately that that’s part of it, right. We, when we get to look backwards, we can say, yeah, we spent a month thinking about that. And I had the idea five minutes after we decided to do, why didn’t I see that?
[00:52:29] Well, we, uh, on foundation out there, our audience wants to know ways that we can be helpful for StoreCash. What are there ways that we can be helpful to you or to.
[00:52:39] Daricus Releford: [00:52:39] Yeah. If you know someone that has a team and, or someone that’s unbanked, um, it doesn’t have a bank account. Tell them about StoreCash. You can join the wait list.
[00:52:48] Now you can earn cash by joining the wait list. And then when we launch, you know, you can redeem those funds and it started with one of our bank accounts.
[00:52:57] Dan: [00:52:57] And you want to share your, a [00:53:00] URL or a social handles or other ways to find out more about.
[00:53:04] Daricus Releford: [00:53:04] Yeah, you can type StoreCash to Android or marketplace or storecashapp.com is our URL. And then you can learn all of what you need to learn about StoreCash. And we’re excited about our launch. Looking forward to anyone that wants to join our beta. If you join early enough, we’ll be asking, uh, if you want to join the beta and also, you know, our massive launch where everybody should be in about two months.
[00:53:32] So yeah, either one will be awesome. And looking forward to seeing you in here in front.
[00:53:37] Dan: [00:53:37] Outstanding. Well, thanks so much Daricus. Cause this has been an awesome conversation. Thanks for making the time.
[00:53:42] Daricus Releford: [00:53:42] Thank you too.
[00:53:44] Dan: [00:53:44] We’d like to thank our guests. Daricus Releford and our sponsor Dave Parker and his new book Trajectory Startup.
[00:53:50] This podcast was produced by yours truly and edited by We Edit Podcasts.
[00:53:55] Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts or simply go to [00:54:00] foundersunfound.com/listento, that’s listened T-O. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn @foundersunfound.
[00:54:06] Thanks so much for tuning in.
[00:54:08] I am Dan Kihanya and you’ve been listening to Founders Unfound.