Lee Easton is the Founder and President of AeroVision, a software development firm specializing in data and analytics. After a five-year career with ConocoPhillips, Lee expanded AeroVision from a side business into a full-stack development firm. He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a BA in computer and electrical engineering. In his free time, Lee enjoys mountain biking in Colorado and is a member of the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Lee Easton’s journey of founding and growing AeroVision
- How Lee helps banks simplify their data
- Lee shares how he launched a new company to develop his banking technology
- How banks can leverage financial technology (FinTech) to maximize growth
- What Lee learned from attending a FinTech development conference
In this episode…
In today’s evolving technological landscape, banking has become digital to meet the fast-paced financial demands of consumers and businesses. Yet, many community banks are struggling to adapt, and their data is scattered and disorganized across traditional financial systems, making it difficult to identify individual use cases accurately. How can you streamline your data to service your customers effectively and scale your bank?
Consumer-focused financial technology (FinTech) services simplify your consumer’s personal financial planning and investment banking. By assembling your data into a single platform, you can offer additional services to increase your revenue. iDENTIFY is a FinTech service that helps banks access and leverage their customer’s transactional data to recognize loan opportunities tailored to each use case. iDENTIFY enables you to take advantage of these opportunities to benefit both you and your customers.
In today’s episode of The Same Day Podcast, Mat Zalk talks with Lee Easton, Founder and President of AeroVision, to discuss investing in FinTech to leverage your data. Lee shares how he helps banks simplify their data, how he launched a new company to develop his banking technology, and how banks can leverage FinTech to optimize growth.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Keyrenter Tulsa
- Mat Zalk on LinkedIn
- Lee Easton on LinkedIn
- Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!: 4 Keys to Unlock Your Business Potential by Greg Crabtree
- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Keyrenter Property Management.
Keyrenter Property Management is a full-service property management company who helps their clients buy, renovate, and operate real estate assets.
They help clients build wealth while taking the headache out of property management.
That’s why, no matter what rental you have — single-family homes, condos, townhomes, or apartments — they can give you the management solutions you need.
Welcome to The Same Day Podcast where we discuss driving incremental business growth and other topics related to real estate, property management and entrepreneurship. Now to the show at hand.
Mat Zalk 0:20
Mat Zalk here I’m the host of The Same Day Podcast where I connect with top business leaders and real estate experts. I always love to highlight a couple of other episodes that we’ve done on The Same Day Podcast. We recently had Scott Reeves and Chickasaw Community Bank on the podcast talking about the lending process and what can make things easier if you’re looking to borrow money for real estate. We had Mike Bosch on the on the podcast. He’s the founder of eternal capital, I should say it right attend to capital. And he were talking about the state of venture investments community in Tulsa, especially among the underserved community. And generally speaking, you know, the middle of the country is underserved when it comes to venture backed companies, largely forgotten by those big players. So check out those other podcasts that we’ve had on recently. Today’s episode is brought to you by Keyrenter, Property Management Keyrenter Property Management. We’re a full service property management company helping our clients buy, renovate and operate real estate assets. We help our clients build wealth while taking the headache out of property management lessonly. You probably know this, but we’ve done hundreds of renovation projects. One that’s particularly fun was a recent one that we didn’t support which is a suburb of Tulsa. For those that are that are not familiar, I walked into the project and it was awful. It was like the worst I’ve ever seen. low ceilings, dark and dingy, terrible layout. I told the owner not to buy it but I was super wrong. Seth Rice on our team is our general contractor turn that place around it was dingy and terrible. But we turned it into a beautiful rental can lights reconfigured it redid the kitchen, the whole deal, it was beautiful and got top rent. So you know it was a it was a great success story. But that’s why no matter what your property needs are what rentals you have from one to 100 We’re the management solution for you that you need to go to keyrentertulsa.com keyrenterOklahomacity.com or keyrenterarkansas.com or you can email us at [email protected] So originally, Lee, you and I met through Ben Vaughn, Tralee, I guess who owns the route, downtown to co working space. He introduced us we were both members there. And we hung out and then we ended up working together on some tech stuff that you built for our business with Robert Davis on our team that was super helpful. We also know each other through EO entrepreneur organization, that’s a group that we’re both members of their stated purpose is to help entrepreneurs achieve their full potential. And their ambition is to enable transformational growth in the lives of EO members. So, awesome organization, great membership here in Tulsa. We’re also friends we’ve had a huge number of friends in common both in Neo and out of vO Brian Elliot, who runs the show of shark development, Taylor Brown, who’s the co owner of you need a budget SaaS software platform, as you might guess, is for budgeting and life expenses and other things. Blaine Hoyt who you introduced my wife to, they work together on the find, find your wife, Jordan is a total badass. She’s the owner of juncos salon here in town. She was booked, but you helped get me a slot in her schedule. And I appreciate that. She’s got a ton of other girls over there in her hair salon, and she’s moving to a new location on Cherry Street, which is also awesome. And I’m really excited for it. So if anybody is looking for a haircut and needs, need some recommendation on where to go go to Joe and CO salon. Her team has enough people to have you covered anybody else that we know in common?
Lee Easton 3:53
And I feel like you’ve you’ve hit a lot of them. I’m sure we could go down a list man. There’s a lot. There’s a lot every single time I talk to you there’s somebody new we’re like, oh, yeah, no, Mat, you know,
Mat Zalk 4:01
There’s also one guy I’ve been meaning to reach out to I’d love to have on the podcast. Johnson Cox is Director of Innovation over at First Fidelity Bank in OKC. We’d love to have John on to discuss some of the things that he’s working on innovation. We had Scott Reeves on recently. And that was a very interesting conversation. But we’d love to do more business with First Fidelity Bank, and OKC. So I’d love to have him on at some point. It’d be a super interesting conversation interesting guy to be, he’d be a great asset. He knows a lot about the industry. And they’re doing some really interesting things at first fidelity bank. We don’t see much about them because they’re in Oklahoma City. Yeah, but I think we will we will learn to know their name more and more as they start building out new products. Awesome. We’d love to have him on. Anyhow, Lee Easton up AeroVision a business that automates services. AeroVision is a software development firm specializing in data and analytics. Lee himself graduated from OSU recently married this amazing woman and a entrepreneur herself. Jordan, she’s got to win you got together have a furball dog running around the house. You’re you’re an adventure addict. Lee, I want to get into that your latest obsession is mountain biking down fourteeners in Colorado. Tell us tell us a little more about that. That sounds exciting.
Lee Easton 5:14
Yeah. So for context, my background right now I’m sitting in a Ford dealership just trying to get some some brake pads swapped out for my truck because I leave Monday. For another I do I do a three to four week trip. every two to three months, I headed to Colorado. And I’ve been I’ve been kind of on this endless journey to just push push my physical health. Yep. And I’ve I’ve tried almost everything. And I found the one thing I think next to surfing is maybe mountain biking that really very little impact on the joints and the muscles, but also probably the hardest and most challenging just, I guess, technical sport out there. heavy heavy cardio, I haven’t done anything quite like mountain biking that require much cardio strength. And especially when you’re anywhere from 10,000 feet to maybe even up to 14,000 feet altitude can’t breathe. You can’t breathe. The oxygen, you know is very thin up there. So about about a year and a half ago, I did I did my first what I would call like a downhill adventure. And I hit four or five mountains in Colorado, and then worked my way out into Utah and did the Moab area and parks area. That was probably a three week long trip. Same scenario took the truck trucks all rigged out for camping. So spent a bunch of time on top of the mountains. And at that point in time, I started finding other mountain bikers that were way better than I was and just like, it was fun to ride with these guys, because I thought I had good lungs. And then, you know, these guys would would just outpaced me and I would be like hacking up, you know, and like, couldn’t breathe. And these guys just like, come on man. It’s only we’re only in like 10 miles. So I made a personal goal. I’ve shared this with my EO forum. So this was with some of my friends. But one of my personal goals for this year was to complete what’s called an imba epic. So there’s imba is the International Mountain Biking Association is a collection of mountain bikers. But the Epic is a rating that they give like the top trails in the world. And so I think Colorado itself only has like two or three epics, I think the US maybe only has 15 Usually they’re they’re, you know, they’re collectively rated. So it’s it’s a bunch of different people putting in their data on these trails. And I found this in the epic in Colorado, it’s it’s the Continental Divide, that’s 36 miles of, you know, 10 to 12,000 feet altitude. And I’ve got a date set for June 25.
Mat Zalk 7:57
That’s a great combination of cardio, you’re doing exercise, but it doesn’t feel like exercise because you’re having an adrenaline pumped. adrenaline fueled adventure. In essence,
Lee Easton 8:05
that’s that’s the best kind of exercise, I’d say.
Mat Zalk 8:07
What’s funny is, you know, when you say you were up there and you thought you’re doing pretty well and then you met these other guys, I’ve been doing jujitsu lately. And there’s like a whole spiritual element of jujitsu. It’s like this, there’s water metaphors of letting your opponent kind of flow over you. And there’s also this, there’s just all sorts of the spiritual metaphors in this world of self defense and martial arts. And one of my friends was telling me, Stephen Shannon, who also runs a property management company down in Houston, a great childhood friend of mine was telling me that one of the great things about jujitsu, one of the great things that teaches you is that you don’t know what you don’t know, or how bad you are like other things in life, until you really start training and get getting with people that are just so much better than you. And so, it’s a good it’s a good lesson for life, it’s like you may think that you know, things, you may think that you’re good at something. But as you get better and better. You’re always aware of how actually of how much more there is to gain in whatever you’re doing. Right. And property management and jujitsu and bike riding and in you know, in anything your business doing AeroVision.
Lee Easton 9:08
So it’s funny, you mentioned that just jogged my memory of a conversation that we recently had.
Mat Zalk 9:14
Cool. So AeroVision, you guys, there’s an aero component of AeroVision, which is interesting. You guys started out using drones for aerial data collection. Tell us about the the origin story of of that business.
Lee Easton 9:26
Yeah. And I probably just changed the name I just never have but I bring branded now. It’s branded. So yeah, originally started as a side hustle. I was working in ConocoPhillips after graduating us us, which is good cush job out of college. I will say, you know, I was sold on this idea by Conoco that they’re kicking off this drone program, and I had a passion for drone technology. While I was at OSU I’d started a company called aero fusion, which By sounds similar, but I had a there was a business plan competition called Gulf cup. And myself and two other engineers, we started this concept called aero fusion. We were going to build out these serving drones. And we had we’d even flown out to California we met with Bolthouse Farms were like, I mean, there was traction there. Like we I think we actually had local farms, some some big drone manufacturers. Bolthouse Farms is one of the largest carrot producers.
Mat Zalk 10:30
Out there was like a weird name for a drone, that maybe spin out. Okay. All right.
Lee Easton 10:35
So so my goal there was if I could get one of the largest farms in the US to agree to use drones, like those guaranteed contracts. So what happened was, do the juices that you see it, like Whole Foods and stuff, okay, got it. I got it with carrot juice. I literally, I flew out there, I’m in college, I rent a car, you know, I don’t have any money. I’m like spending all my money to like drive up to this farm. And I’m expecting this like massive organization, because I mean, boathouse is massive. You, you think it’s just this huge headquarters. And I met with the president of the company and a couple of people on the strategy side of the business, and we’re in a trailer, like we’re in a trailer. And like, that’s how they reason that Lean is super lean.
Mat Zalk 11:16
But I love that. I mean, you’re what an entrepreneurial story, you have no money, you’re like, I’ve got this opportunity. I’ve got to make it happen. I’m gonna take my last couple of pennies, scratch them together and get a rental car so I can drive up to this farm, where you’re expecting to be like the Apple headquarters in California. That’s awesome. Okay, cool. So So you drove out there and you’re trying to you’re trying to do some of them, then what happened?
Lee Easton 11:38
So it boiled down to a lesson around partnership. I wouldn’t when we were doing this, this was 2012 2012 2013. And regulations did not been set by the FAA. So it was very unclear of like, how you could really commercially operate terms. So I saw this opportunity with ConocoPhillips. I thought, You know what, I’ll take that full time job, I can go at least maybe operate terms with them. Yeah. My two business partners at that time, they did not want to risk anything, I was all for it. I was thinking, You know what, let’s get this contract with boathouse. Let’s just say screw it, if we get fined by the FAA, we’ll figure it out. We’ll pay the fine. They don’t even know what they’re finding. And one of them was, he was just really cautious. He didn’t want to do it. So we pivoted that business into a Amazon dropship. Company. And, but it stayed as aero fusion. And so I asked him, I said, you guys, you know, now that we’re not doing the drone stuff anymore. Can I take that concept? And, and they’re like, cool. And that’s our AeroVision really was born was oh, wait, what was the what was the Amazon dropship? Is, is you’re going to drone dropship stuff and be a third party provider? No, no, it had nothing to do with drones. We, we all read The Four Hour Workweek. And we figured out we were all electrical engineers, we were manufacturing Edison light bulbs in China. And we were drop shipping them we did pretty well. I think that business would have made more money than we were going to make with the boathouse contract, but the drone stuff Wow. Just dropped, shipped. And then eventually one of the partners bought the other two of us out.
Mat Zalk 13:10
Did you have to okay, and that business and then running that business?
Lee Easton 13:14
I think so.
Mat Zalk 13:16
And so you were able to did you actually buy out the name? My guess aero like any any, any trademark stuff for now you just turn around, you’re like, Hey, can I can I have this? And they were like, Sure, run with it.
Lee Easton 13:28
I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go do the drone thing that we’re we are agreeing not to do right. And they’re like, Yeah, we’re not doing drone stuff. I was like, Okay, well, I’m gonna call it AeroVision. That’s fine.
Mat Zalk 13:37
Sounds like that sounds that sounds oddly similar to aero fusion. But okay.
Lee Easton 13:45
So that was 2014 Going into 2015 was the official stamp date revision was registered as a business. And I was still at ConocoPhillips this time, but yeah, it, it. It grew, it grew well as a side hustle. It was never, you know, it never exploded. And it’s probably never going to explode because it was a side hustle. But I had gotten some contracts with a couple of powerline companies in the GRCA. You know, using drones I, I bought, you know, two pretty high end drones to have on my fleet. And at that time, the FAA was starting to publish things. And so I was getting my certifications needed. And it’s essentially, it’s like the written test of the private pilot’s license without any of the flight hours, right. So it’s somewhat the same written test, you need to be able to read a sectional map, you need to be able to do you have to understand airspace, etc. Yep. And so it’s fairly straightforward. And my dad was a pilot. So I started, you know, talking to my dad about it. He was willing to fly for me. So I was able to kind of scale the business a little bit, go my dad, you leverage my dad’s license and fly with him. And by 20,
Mat Zalk 14:53
so a person with a private pilot’s license can fly a drone, or do they need to separate the needle?
Lee Easton 14:57
You still have to apply for your part one oh seven, but you don’t have to do. I mean, you basically you already know everything you need to know. So just go and take the test the part 107 Yeah, and now this may have all changed since then this is four or five years ago, but at the time, that’s what it was.
Mat Zalk 15:14
There was a lot of West FAA was just like just getting started. Now they’re doing these drones are everywhere. Everyone’s got one there. They’re popping off here and there. Yeah. Yeah. Cool.
Lee Easton 15:24
So AeroVision, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s stuck true to its name for about four years, operating as a just drone service provider, we, we got connected through a 36 degrees north, I met an architect who was who had just left the firm wanted to do his own thing. And Andrew Brister is his name, awesome guy. And, and he saw what I was doing, I saw what he was doing, we, we found some really, we found a really unique way to work together because he was scanning these old buildings around downtown Tulsa. And he was he was converting them into 3d models for the architecture firms, you know, GH two SGA. All these guys. Take a t. And this, if you think about a timeline wise, like this is when Tulsa really started to turn over. Because like, for example, I met you at the route, right, when, like, during this timeframe, that building was still abandoned with graffiti on it. Wow. So Andrew, and I was cool, because from like 2015 to 2017, we had scanned almost all the old industrial buildings that either David Sharpe owns, or like, the Kaisers, or whoever, you know, and it was all for these architecture firms. And we had this beautiful process of like, I would fly the drone. And we we came up with this flight pattern, and was it was a grid, it was a grid pattern with the drone facing downwards, and we’d create this map, and then you’d fly the side of the building up and down. So altitude would go up and down as you’re kind of like painting the side of the building. And we capture all that data, it pulls all the GPS data out of those files. And then Andrew would go around with a lidar and get the foundation of the base. And we in three days, we can build a 3d model of an existing building within centimeter accuracy. And it would take an architecture firm three weeks to that same process. And so this grew. And next thing, you know, we had, we had got our first government contract, it was a, it was like a 40 storey building down in Dallas, federal building. And after that, you know, Andrew got offered a buyout an exit opportunity. And so that’s when that’s when AeroVision stops the drone stuff because it all went with the buyout. And then AeroVision became a software development.
Mat Zalk 16:25
But in that in that moment, where you like, Oh, God, I have to figure out what to do how I pivot. Were you scared? Or were you like, got this no problem, I’ll do some development work.
Lee Easton 17:49
I was excited. I was I was excited. This was my opportunity to leave ConocoPhillips and convert, you know, this side hustle right into the main gig. Yeah, it was it came at the best time when I was I was already teeter tottering and ready to make that leave.
Mat Zalk 18:04
And so let’s talk then, like the transition into automation, data analytics, I mean, a lot of the stuff that you’re working on is super sensitive. So your clients don’t want you talking about, you know, all the data that you’re collecting and analyzing and how you’re how you’re delivering them results. Obviously, that’s a that’s a huge competitive advantage in today’s world. I mean, The Economist years ago had the data, you know, is the new oil article, and everybody knows the amazing things scary and or, you know, the most exciting things in the world that Facebook, Instagram, every other data collector in the in the world is doing with with all their powerful analytics, what, you know, when you when you how do you describe to people what you do now?
Lee Easton 18:45
Yeah, if anybody off the street asks what I do, I just I tell them, I’m a, you know, technical consultant or software consulting. But, you know, at the end of the day to our clients, you know, we’re helping them automate business processes, we’re helping them, you know, enrich, you know, financial information, operational data, you know, like, when we worked with you guys, yes, it was more around strategically understanding your personnel, you know, like looking at your performance of your employees. I mean, there’s, there’s data in every component of a business that really relates whether you’re a bank or a property management business or accounting firm. You’ve got people you got personnel and you’ve got tools, right. So we, we we live in that like process improvement world. Yeah, I think so. The thing that was a big pivotal moment for me was that so SGA Design Group acquired the drone portion and the scanning portion of the business and Andrew Brister took that opportunity. And he’s, and he’s still there just crushing it. I knew it was gonna be ConocoPhillips. I didn’t really have anything like we had some website work that was going on on the side. But when that transition happened, they immediately had a need for an application to post got their foot in the door. But all Yeah, all the scanning data we were acquiring, you know, so a big client of theirs is Walmart, they do like, at the time, it was like 1300 stores a year for Walmart, well, they needed a way to serve that data to Walmart. And they didn’t have a secure platform. Walmart didn’t want to use Dropbox. Walmart didn’t want to use Google Drive. Sure. So there’s a lot of competitive reasons, they didn’t want to use AWS and, and so we got the opportunity to basically build this platform that would help the company share all that data with Walmart and some of their other clients. So that was kind of a kickoff into custom software development. You know, it was
Mat Zalk 20:40
at that time, was it SAS? Or was it something else were you like, I mean, I remember the days when your floppy disk, you’d go to, you know, whatever, CompuServe and buy a thing. And I mean, that’s, that’s long predates 2015. That was the old day. Now, there’s that. I mean, were you originally doing SAS stuff, or you were building software directly on their servers, or how did it work?
Lee Easton 21:01
They, the goal is they, we had to move them off their servers, they were they were hosting all this data in house server and trying to share it out. And it was just, it was slow. And I’m struggling. So we moved them to a cloud infrastructure, we built the cloud infrastructure and the platform and the UI on top of it so they could access
Mat Zalk 21:19
and all that went through AeroVision. And that was a that was, you know, the start of the consulting been a vast space.
Lee Easton 21:25
Yeah. Yeah. So that was, that was a great, great, you know, entry into being an entrepreneur. I mean, not that none of that other stuff wasn’t, it was just, you know, now I’m, I’m sure. I’m not leaning on ConocoPhillips. For my financials, you know, my, my life budget, I guess it’s now this business needs to succeed. Or, you know, I’ve got a runway of how long I can I can pull from my savings. But yeah, sure.
Mat Zalk 21:50
That’s scary. I mean, honestly, that’s, that’s the hardest part about leaving a corporate environment is you got you got bills to pay. But honestly, that’s the greatest motivator towards, you know, making it actually happen. Once your security blanket is taken away, you just you have to do it or go back to the environment where you’re, you know, you’re, again, just working at Conoco? Phillips, it’s not it wasn’t fulfilling all of your, all of your needs on a spiritual level. So then, so, you know, you and I were talking recently about your work with the banking sector. Tell us a little bit about what products you’re working on how you’re helping banks, you know, envision their data better?
Lee Easton 22:30
Yeah, this is something I’m super excited about. So fast forward, about a year and a half from that departure. And working on this this product for SGA design group. We, we I had a mentor client at the time, that was also another client while we were working this software build that and I was doing some analytics work for them. This guy, Steven Taylor. He was formerly at Devon, so years in the oil and gas business. I was in oil and gas, we connected on that front. We were I was serving an oil gas customer of his and it was about like fall of 20. Gosh, the spring fall 2019. Maybe I see his like LinkedIn status change. I had talked to him a while and then it went from you know, it’s like independent consulting firm to CIO vast bank. Oh, and as a joke I like is a jump I shot him a message like jokingly, like, are jumping ship on us, you know, like, because oil and gas sector anymore? Yeah, I was thinking he was oil and gas for life. And he just shot me a message back and just said we need to talk. So that that kicked off a series of very unique projects in the world of banking, you know, starting with a vast bank, and at the time they were still are are innovating constantly. They’re really pushing some new products and new industry focus initiatives, just that community banks have never done for example, they’re now you know, crypto custodian, they let their customers store store crypto, they’re the first community bank,
Mat Zalk 24:04
they have a digital wallet and they like they allow their their their users to not only envision like be see the entirety of their portfolio, crypto in, you know, cash and investments, whatever together but they also use their wallet to store your crypto.
Lee Easton 24:17
Yeah. So that that’s a strategic partnership. They have a coin base. So they’re, wow. They’re part of Coinbase they’re partnered with some very big industry players, which is incredible for Tulsa Community Bank. So absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. So so for us after, after six and 12 months, we picked up about five, five or six clients that were of similar size banks is vast. And we started seeing this reoccurring trend. Each each of these community banks they they were all on an old legacy core, right. And this is it’s funny because it’s the same thing in health care. Now I’m learning some things right But they’re, it’s these old core products that have served the industry since the 80s. And it’s like how like, probably COBOL is the coding language and like, so they’re, they’re never really going to get off this legacy core, it’s probably always going to exist. But in a world where like, there’s more dependence and reliance on these type of tools, it’s very hard to integrate with the core. And so the, the recurring challenge I saw is these banks are just trying to understand their transactional data and analyze their customer behaviors based on spending and earning. And so I started talking to a few banks, and I was like, you know, how valuable is this to, you know, what kind of information are you trying to glean from your transactions, each bank kind of had their own specific use case. But at the end of the day, I decided to be a good time to maybe even start building a product that I could then scale and sell just to community banks. And so June 2021, I started a new business called iDENTIFY, cool, and iDENTIFY’S mission iDENTIFY’S goal is ultimately to give power back to the community banks. And this is not new stuff, Goldman Sachs does, this chase does this. But that, that accessibility you have when you’re in your Chase bank account, and they’re sending you rewards, and they know your spending behavior. So you get rewards when you shop here, purchase here, they’re able to give you like, pre approve loans and offers just things that help you live your life, you know, in your financial world, the community banks, they have that data, they have no way to access that data in a clean format, they have no way to give that back to you. And that’s the power that iDENTIFY what to do is where you’re using that data to identify those opportunities for the banks. And then let them give those opportunities back to the customer and
Mat Zalk 26:51
iDENTIFY as a totally separate business from AeroVision. But it leverages presumably leverages AeroVision, via the coder database and the network of you guys to do for everybody else to develop that software.
Lee Easton 27:03
So as the as an entrepreneur, so the folks that are listening, that are entrepreneurs, like the journey here was I’ve got a company that builds software, I’ve got a strong team of data engineers, it makes sense, like, let me just go start this separate company, let me leverage AeroVision and all the talent resources that we have to build this up. And then when the time comes, I’ll flip the switch. And all these banking clients will move to iDENTIFY. And that will be a job for me as a separate company.
Mat Zalk 27:32
I mean, David Charney, my friend who owns capital homes here in Tulsa, it builds 200 220 homes a year, it was always fond of saying, you know, I have this machine, the machine is spitting out these homes and for the vast majority of our existence is capital homes, we’ve we’ve provided high quality homes, to primary residence to people that want to buy them. But somebody at a conference once told me, you got this machine the most, the most difficult part of building a rental portfolio is finding the assets. And if you already have the machine that’s spitting out these homes, why not keep some of them in your rental portfolio. So I think every the trajectory of many businesses are the path of many businesses is to build the initial engine that, you know, creates revenue for you and an income for you and stability for you. And then, and then over time, kind of gobble up more of the value chain, as you see, you know, I’ve got this amazing engine that can produce websites and code and analytics and get Garner, you know, insights from these analytics, let’s build a product. And then you know, now I’m a client of my own business with a new business type of thing, right? So it’s, and that’s a, an amazing, you know, you’ve got the engine just put it together in a way that you can develop a separate product, which is awesome. So how many I mean, so how many banks are using this now in our region? How many banks are there? There’s so many community banks. And, you know, I know there are other people that are also working on some insights for banking. Joey over at 19 days working with Jacob gateway is working on a product that helps. And even lenders Yeah, commercial lenders do what exactly?
Lee Easton 29:02
The Yeah, they’re trying to build a tool to help commercial lenders be more efficient. Just understanding their portfolio. Yeah. There’s a big disconnect in the commercial lending space. They each bank uses a different CRM and a different tool and like, you walk in one bank may may just have a dry erase board. And that’s all their data. Wow. Right. You all get another bank and they’re in HubSpot. You know, it’s it’s very, very different. Sure. Yeah, I think I think Joey’s there’s so many opportunities, so many opportunities out there. And that’s why Fintech is such a big buzzword. Yeah, I think that a lot of the a lot of the West Coast, East Coast Capital, you know, that money is funding these consumer focus fintechs. And I think the b2b FinTech space is still untapped, very untapped. And, you know, I think what Joe is doing is amazing. I think that hopefully what I’m doing is going to help a lot of these community banks they are fearful of, of the, of the fintech. They’re fearful of the Neo banks are fearful of China. Amy’s in the Dave’s of the world. Yeah. Because that’s the consumer market. That’s suspect.
Mat Zalk 30:05
And so they’re scrambling to understand that side of the business more.
Lee Easton 30:08
Mat Zalk 30:09
Who So you’re telling me earlier about Jimmy Stallings is a president over payments and Stride bank and you’re describing stride as a super innovative bank and the sponsor bank behind chime, which is of course, a unicorn FinTech business. I mean, what what’s what has led stride to be more innovative than other banks? I mean, why are they the sponsor bank? Behind chime? How’d they get there? You know, what, what can other banks learn from from what they’ve done?
Lee Easton 30:35
Yeah, they, you know, if you look at, look at all the fintechs out there in the neobank category, you know, China is definitely one of the largest ones. And, you know, don’t quote me on this, but so 2019, they were like two to 3 million users. After this last year, I think they hit like 16 million, you know, that just the growth is insane there. And what what I’m seeing is they’ve, they found their niche, it’s, it’s, it’s a younger demographic of people probably soon out of college, or maybe out of high school that have just never opened a bank account. So they’re like previously, potentially unbanked. But back to the strike deal. You know, it’s very rare of an Oklahoma bank to capture a partner like that. But it just goes to show that, you know, Oklahoma banks like not just dry, like, fast is another example. First fidelity. So these guys, you know, they they’re very aware of what’s going on in industry. And they’re not there’s no blanket by any means. Just back from being in Oklahoma, Arkansas. If anything, I think, you know, we’re kind of creating a hub here on the infrastructure side of things, some of the other massive fintechs that exist today. So the other major unicorns are all based out of Utah. It’s odd, you would think California, but like Utah really is, in my opinion, one of the hubs.
Mat Zalk 31:55
Goldman has their second largest office in Salt Lake City, which is amazing.
Lee Easton 32:00
Yeah, yeah. It’s crazy to think, you know, Lisa’s Visa has got a massive presence there too. And now all these these infrastructure, you know, these what’s called an API level, companies are growing, how Utah, but stride stride, couldn’t have timed it better. You know, they created a partnership with China, I want to say, don’t quote me on this either. But 2018 going into 2019, China was looking for a bank that could grow with this, the unique approach here is that, you know, chime, chime and stride were perfectly aligned in their in their growth goals. Stride as a bank just wanted to get more deposits. So sure, any type of relationship they bring on with a FinTech, their goal is to either bring more cash in so they can then go loan that out loan against it. That’s how banks make money. And Shime had the numbers to show that like, Hey, we’re gonna increase your deposits by X amount. But who knew that we would go into a pandemic, and that everything would almost be forced to go digital over the course of a year? And then time just skyrockets, right? Yeah, everybody starts banking digitally, you know, blows up strides, you know, deposits beyond what they could even hold. And like, it’s just, it was a great dynamic. And now, now there are bigger problems being solved. Because when you have that much data and that much transactional data, there’s, there’s more that you can do, there’s more you can understand about people’s finances. And that’s why ultimately, we’re excited to start working with stripe to just help them hone in on that data and that infrastructure like how do you how do you monetize it at that point for your bank?
Mat Zalk 33:35
Amazing to be involved with the bank that seen such incredible growth? I mean, I don’t know. Is there a top side? I mean, deposits. Tier one capital is generally what stops you from being able to lend if you’re if your asset size grows too much. But I wonder if there’s anything that stops you, I don’t know the answer. If there’s anything that stops you from just taking on more and more deposits, is there any sort of regulatory environment that that prohibits that regulatory, you know, anything that prohibits that?
Lee Easton 34:00
I’m not an expert, but I wouldn’t, I would assume so. I assume there is eventually grow too much. Yeah. Yeah.
Mat Zalk 34:07
That’s your growth has been great. Now, just dial it back a little bit.
Lee Easton 34:12
We’re gonna cap you at 10.
Mat Zalk 34:16
What? What are you What are you following in the industry and your tech space? I mean, what are your favorite podcasts? What conferences are you going to? You know, what, what are you seeing what trends and where are you finding them?
Lee Easton 34:28
That’s a great question. I am pretty much fully focused on fintech. So really, anything that I share, or dive into is fintech. So, conference wise, there’s a so the the FinTech DEF CON, which is hosted by move mo V. This company is owned and operated by a mentor of mine picked up this mentor when I was developing iDENTIFY just to validate iDENTIFY, conceptually. She’s also an avid mountain biker. You kicked my ass. About About a year ago, we went he was one of the guys that I went riding with. And I was just like, and he’s, you know, he’s probably 10 years older than me. So anyway, he for multiple reasons I look up to this guy. And his company hit one years. Yeah, one years of age last June, and then he hosted his very first conference last August. And it was it was an incredible turnout.
Mat Zalk 35:25
So he moves his company,
Lee Easton 34:30
moves his company. Yeah. So so this is a guy that has been in the industry for a long time, as you know, FinTech before was fintech. But he built he built a company called banno. It was the very first mobile banking application, he sold it to Jack and Ron, so he sold it to the largest core provider, in 2014, served on the board of a couple fintechs. And then I think he got bored, quite honestly. And it’s self invested, started move, and then got some attention from Andreessen Horowitz. Ben Horowitz now sits on his board. So any and he’s really fast in. He’s based out of golden Colorado, the fully remote company, though there’s two developers here in Tulsa, that actually worked for him full time. Beautiful. Very, I mean, just very proud of his goal. I don’t know at first if he was even aiming to make money, but he was trying to open source, the bank and core, he had a GitHub, you could go fork and you could pull down an ACH function or a payments function and go build your own product was code, which I think, you know, nobody has ever given back to the industry quite like that. I’ll just say his conference was incredible, because he did not allow salespeople, you had to either be a developer or a technical founder of one of these companies to attend the conference. It was capped at 300 people. And I, you know, I met co founders of chime, I met co founders and Max, people from plaid were there. Like it was some of the highest caliber
Mat Zalk 36:54
plotters integration software that takes banking details, and then I guess, somehow makes it so secure. And you can share with other people that say, Yeah, my younger levels this and like, yeah,
Lee Easton 37:04
if you’ve logged into Coinbase, or if you’ve logged into Robin Hood, or whatever, you you’ve used plaid. Yeah, it’s in there meant any of those tools. Yeah, Plaza unicorn. 16 billion valuation now maybe maybe more visa tried to buy him and US Department of Justice stepped in. It’s crazy. So so his conference and really anything that any material that his company puts out, that’s like, at the top of my mind, you know, if I’m a sponge, like that’s the first draft that I’m getting for any information next to that, anything that a16z puts out, so Andreessen Horowitz, I follow all their newsletters and really all their podcasts pretty religiously. And at that point, I feel like I feel like that’s all I can consume. You know, there’s only so much the brain can hold. And when I try to just just keep it with that. And I do feel like there’s a lot just from that those days or
Mat Zalk 37:53
any books by your nightstand that you’re reading.
Lee Easton 37:57
Yes. So, same recommendation to you as I gave my forum, which I think half my forum has read now is Simple Numbers, Big Profits by Greg Crabtree, and it’s a it’s an easy read. So here’s here’s, here’s where I got it, Mat. So we had an EO event at the Jenks aquarium last fall, it was the the Shark Tank one. And we had those the guy that came up from Dallas, he was on Shark Tank and he pitched Shark Tank and did a deal on Shark Tank. And I really liked him. His name is Mitch Allen. He’s had a couple successful exits and he now runs a company called Higher sandtex, the largest Santos staffing agency.
Mat Zalk 38:39
And it’s amazing that the niche element of that is amazing. And it just proves you can make money in any in any agro industry. That’s amazing.
Lee Easton 38:48
He’s he is the sole contract for every Bass Pro Shop and he all the Santos that are standing at Bass Pro Shop, some of the major malls a US company. So anyway, Mitch is incredible. I could tell he’s just he’s a very analytical guy. He’s an MIT grad. And he had two books that he mentioned. One was this Simple Numbers, Big Profits. And the reason being is because Greg Crabtree is an EO member. And it’s just a great book to understand if you’re in that one to $5 million revenue range and understanding how to pay yourself how to pay your people that you know, the actual revenue per headcount is very important calculation. The other book that Mitch recommended that I’d already actually read twice last year was Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. Yeah, so those are, those are my main two.
Mat Zalk 39:37
That’s great. He’s an FBI, former FBI hostage negotiator and he talks about all sorts of negotiation techniques. That’s That’s an awesome book for sure.
Lee Easton 39:44
Incredible book. Incredible. So that’s, yeah, I will probably read. Those are for you.
Mat Zalk 39:48
What’s his main thing? His main, his main thing is you always ask How am I supposed to do that? So somebody says like, I want $100 And you’re like, I how can I do that? I can’t do that.
Lee Easton 39:58
Right. Like I’ve got out your son. It’s like, well, how do I know they’re alive? You know? Yeah. How am I supposed to get to them? Yeah, he’s He’s so good. So he’s cool.
Mat Zalk 40:07
I love it. All right, we’ve been talking to Lee, founder of AeroVision. Lee, where can people learn more about you?
Lee Easton 40:15
So you check out our website at AeroVision.io and the aero is just like aerospace. So aerovision.io. And then for the SaaS products iDENTIFY, so just identify.tech. That’s our that’s our new banking SaaS product.
Mat Zalk 40:32
I love it. Lee, thank you so much. I appreciate you so much.
Lee Easton 40:36
Thank you, Mat.
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