Paycom — one of Oklahoma’s fastest-growing and largest companies — busted through the billion-dollar revenue mark in 2021 and has seen double-digit revenue growth every year for the last six years.
And its growth could only be getting started: The company currently shares only about 5% of the HR software management market, making next year’s growth projections nearly as strong — especially after introducing an international product earlier this year.
It was 1998, and Chad Richison was 27.
The Tuttle-raised, University of Central Oklahoma graduate was working for an HR management company in Denver, Colorado, when he sold his house and moved back home to the OKC metro all because he had an idea: He wanted to start an HR software company he believed could change everything about how payroll is handled.
It was a dream started with a cashed-in 401(k), 13 credit cards and a $225,000 SBA loan.
Now, just shy of 25 years later, he’s worth north of $2.2 billion. His company, Paycom Software, cleared $1.375 billion in revenue last year alone, which was a 30% increase in revenue from 2021. Richison is one of Oklahoma’s only six billionaires, and he’s also the youngest.
That’s a heckuva boomerang story.
That late ’90s, pre-smartphone, pre-Wi-Fi-everywhere idea now employs 6,349 people, the majority located at the company’s headquarters in Oklahoma City. It’s an idea that helped diversify Oklahoma City’s economy away from the pillars of oil and gas and into a new area of innovation: tech.
“I could have started this company anywhere, but I chose Oklahoma City because I believed I could get the most traction here due to its strong business environment and talented people,” Richison said.
It’s certainly gained traction — Paycom is a behemoth player in both the Oklahoma economy and the HR and tech industries now. But when Richison started, dial internet was just becoming popular, and the learning curve for clients was steep.
“I sold the first 400 clients myself and for 90% of them, not only was it the first time they had used a web product, it was the first time they had seen the internet,” Richison said. “I would get on my hands and knees to unplug their fax, pop in an AOL or Prodigy diskette, open up Netscape and introduce them to the internet and subsequently our software.”
This get-on-your-hands-and-knees, do-it-yourself approach could categorize the business model of Paycom. From the beginning, Richison’s vision of what Paycom could be included making sure the company developed the infrastructure of what was needed internally. Relying on outside vendors or lengthy supply chains just wouldn’t work. But it was pretty elementary in the beginning.
“I decided I could develop a software where the client would do the inputting and it would all go direct to the printer, and I would use the internet to send the data back and forth,” he said. “I used Lotus Notes and diagramed what I believed a database would look like. Then I created mock versions of what each screen would look like.”