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Hidden Gems: Meet Tolu (Tj) Oyeniyi of ROOTs Technology

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tolu Oyeniyi.

Tolu, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Well, my story picks up at the point where I’m working a business analyst job, making $37,500 a year with a graduate business degree. Each paycheck was about $1,200 every two weeks, and I was paying $1,000 a month in student loans on the standard repayment plan while also paying rent, leaving me with just a few hundred dollars a month. Like the rest of America, I was barely getting by.

One day, I got promoted to senior business analyst, but my salary didn’t. I went to discuss that with the manager and after some back and forth, they increased my salary from $37,500 to $39,998.00. Something about them leaving off that $2 to make my salary $40K rubbed me the wrong way and I knew right then I there I needed a new career. It was clear this current career path couldn’t afford me the life I wanted to live anytime soon, so I decided I was going to teach myself to code so I could get a better paying job as a software engineer. I gave myself about 5-6 months to learn how to code enough to start job searching until I got my first job as a software engineer. I doubled my salary just from that change, and have significantly increased my salary at a quicker pace working as a software engineer, making it easier for me to live the lifestyle I want and to be able to better support my family and friends. Most of my work as a software engineer was at startups, so naturally, it was only a matter of time before I built my own.

I launched “BagDrop: luggage storage and delivery” service February 2020 in Austin, TX to take advantage of the major influx in travel that happens in March every year during South By SouthWest (SXSW) 2020. A few weeks after I launched, my startup was picking up momentum, then Covid 19 brought the travel industry that my business depended on to a complete halt, and the city of Austin, TX went on lockdown. The business I spent a year building came to an end just like that. While recovering from that loss, I decided to refocus my attention on my long-time business, ROOTs Technology, where I teach beginners how to code. My wife showed me how to create YouTube videos and the rest is history. I created a YouTube video detailing how I taught myself how to code and became a software engineer, and it went viral. I’ve since been monetized on YouTube and that success has led to the increased growth of ROOTs Technology as well, which is where you find me today, working full-time as a software engineer at a startup in Dallas while teaching people how to code at my business, ROOTs Technology, and creating content for YouTube.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
No, it hasn’t been a smooth ride. Covid 19 destroyed a business I spent a lot of time, effort, and money building. And my tech career has shown me it’s share of racial discrimination and incompetent managers. Despite it all, those business failures and job struggles helped shape my drive and determination, forcing me to be hyper-focused on my financial security and relationships with family and close friends.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
ROOTs Technology is a project-based coding and career prep program where I teach beginners how to code and help them prepare for the job search, serving as their tutor and mentor on their coding journey. There aren’t a lot of Black people and other minorities in the tech industry in general, especially those that are self-taught software engineers without a computer science degree, so my story is one that helps counter the narrative Black and Brown people aren’t successful in this space. My story also let’s people know that you don’t need a traditional computer science degree to start working as a software engineer. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” and it’s evident how my visibility as a Black person in the YouTube and tech space is helping inspire other Black people and minorities, to confidently pursue careers in tech.

How do you define success?
At the minimum, success to me is achieving what you set out to achieve. And if you don’t achieve it, coming away with a lesson learned. The only failure I recognize is when you don’t achieve your goal or don’t come away with any insight.


  • Coding Packages start at $1240+
  • Career Prep starts at $985+
  • Mentorship starts at $650+

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