Alumnus Oji Ofong creates app to make gift giving easier

Alumnus Oji Ofong creates app to make gift giving easier

Alumnus Oji Ofong creates app to make gift giving easier

Alumnus Oji Ofong
UDC alum Oji Ofong, creator of the Payforme app, a fintech startup specializing in routing payments to external parties in e-commerce.

Oji Ofong has found his calling connecting people to opportunities and resources, whether it is by improving e-commerce to help people make purchases more efficiently or helping students on campus. A proud computer science graduate from UDC, Ofong is using his training and life experiences to create his app, Payforme.

Ofong has enjoyed a successful tech career, working at companies including AOL Inc., CoStar Group, Virtru Inc., and, most recently, Google. As a software engineer at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., his team developed the software that runs on Google Pixel phones.

“We literally built all of the smart AI integration that improved phone call experiences making the Google Pixel phone arguably the smartest smartphone in the market,” Ofong said.

He was instrumental in designing and building mobile software infrastructure that has impacted billions of users worldwide. His work on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning phone call experiences has been instrumental as Google Pixel becomes well-positioned in smart technology.

Ofong left Google in March after three years to focus on a new entrepreneurial venture, Payforme—a fintech startup specializing in routing payments to external parties in e-commerce. He founded the startup after experiencing challenges paying for purchases for his two nieces who live in Europe. The app allows users to share purchase requests and simplifies the payment process.

“I started the app when I was at Google when I was trying to make a purchase for my nieces who live abroad,” Ofong said. “I looked up the toys that they wanted, and there were a lot of options. I wanted them or their mother to be able to select and fill out the forms, then send me a link so I could just pay for it.”

Ofong’s app is meant to do away with recreating shopping lists and sharing shipping and billing information. Shoppers can select Payforme at checkout to send a secure link to payers anywhere in the world.

The app is currently available for e-commerce, but he has goals of making it available in stores. As he steers the company of four, he is hoping that the app will be at the forefront of financial technology, creating value for merchants, shoppers and payers worldwide.

Originally from Nigeria, Ofong’s entrepreneurial spirit is deeply influenced by his grandfather, a successful businessman, as well as the personal challenges he has faced. That drives his commitment to innovation and problem-solving.

Beyond his technical abilities, Ofong has a special passion for mentorship and guiding and nurturing engineering talent. Much of it stems from overcoming personal challenges and the inspiring legacy of his mother and grandfather. Their teachings, emphasizing the power of hard work and the importance of uplifting others, have profoundly shaped his personal and professional life.

While at UDC, Ofong experienced one of his most difficult challenges when as an honor student, he had to sit out a semester to get his financial aid in order.

“I had to drop out for a brief period, and I told myself that I wasn’t going to give up and decided to turn the negative experience into a positive,” Ofong said. “During that time, I taught myself how to code and to become a computer programmer.”

Focused and driven, he taught himself coding from online classes including those from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“I became so good at coding without realizing it because it was something that I enjoyed,” he said. “By the time I returned to class at UDC, I had published several apps on the Google Play Store as well as the Apple App store.”

Ofong returned to UDC with a full-time job as a software engineer at AOL in Virginia.

“UDC was a safe place for me,” Ofong said. “I came to UDC as an international student from Nigeria. UDC being an HBCU was a great place for me to grow. Just being in an environment that I didn’t need to fit in helped. It gave me the foundation to dream without feeling like I needed to make a lot of adjustments.”

He graduated summa cum laude from UDC in 2016 with a 3.9 GPA.

While at UDC, he created a support group to help students better prepare for tech job interviews with the help of Dr. Briana Wellman, associate professor of computer science.

“I started it based on all of the failures that I’d had trying to figure out how to succeed in the software engineering world,” Ofong said. “What I realized was that intelligence wasn’t lacking, but it was access to information. I remember being at UDC in my final year, and I had an interview with Facebook that went really bad.

“Through introspection, I realized that I had a perfect GPA, but I could tell by the way that they responded that I did not know what information I should have been looking at to prepare. Should I be looking over my school notes? I wasn’t quite sure,” he said.

Based on that experience, Ofong created Bridge-to-Industry to help himself and his classmates understand what information they should review to prepare for tech career interviews based on models used by other universities and alumni support to gain company insight.

“The initial students who were part of the cohort in the Bridge-to-Industry at UDC also had internships at Apple. Now they work as engineers there,” he said. “There is a domino effect. All of the participants of the program are engineers at leading technology companies.”

“I often came back to speak to students in the computer science program at UDC to reciprocate the help that Dr. Wellman had given to me without even knowing.”

Ofong continues to operate the Bridge-to-Industry program virtually by supporting students and their questions in preparation for internships and jobs, with 90 percent of participants obtaining employment at leading technology companies.

He runs his company while now enrolled in the two-year Northwestern University Kellogg MBA program, where he continues to sharpen his leadership and business acumen. His interest in entrepreneurship is coupled with a long-term vision for venture capitalism in emerging markets.

Leveraging his international background and insights from Nigeria, he aspires to support technology startups in Sub-Saharan Africa, amplifying their potential to drive change and growth.

“I want to solve problems and create value in the world,” Ofong said. “This is what inspired Payforme. I’ve been fortunate to have a good career and worked with excellent companies. My goal is to facilitate entrepreneurship and fintech investment in Nigeria, with a long-term goal of venture capitalism.”

Ofong said all his tech entrepreneurial activities are for the sole purpose of improving the quality of life through technology and creating tech opportunities, especially in underserved communities.

For more information on the Payforme app, visit