It's not every day a community banker gets to pitch an idea before billionaire entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban, but this year, Citizens Bank of Edmond President and CEO Jill Castilla found herself in such a position.
It was the early days of the pandemic — businesses had just begun to close their doors — and many Americans found themselves out of work and unsure when or from where they would get their next paycheck.
While the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included one-time economic impact payments of $1,200 for individuals, the estimated time it would take for the funds to end up in bank accounts was three weeks — and in some cases, several months.
Cuban, concerned about the wait, took to Twitter to find a bank willing to work with him to get cash to people more quickly.
"Anyone know a very agile FDIC, SBA Preferred Lender Bank that I can work with to get cash advances into people's hands ASAP, backed by their $1200 government pay? The 3 week wait is too long. Let's help people now. #CoronaKarma," the Dallas Mavericks owner tweeted to his 8 million followers in March.
After Jamestown Associates Managing Partner Bryan Clagett, a fintech veteran and friend of Castilla's, saw the tweet, he immediately alerted the community bank CEO.
"Jill is so built around the promise of customer engagement that she's the first person I turn to when I think of tying a product need to an individual or company that can solve it," Clagett said.
Several emails and phone calls later, Castilla and Cuban crafted a payment advance program at the bank that allowed customers to tap their stimulus funds immediately.
"We were able to implement in two business days an overdraft program that allowed our customers to overdraw their accounts while they waited for the stimulus checks," Castilla said.
Cuban's goal was to find a bank that would serve as an example to others, a bank with a solution to the stimulus check problem that he could amplify to others across the country.
"We ended up sharing the program with about 400 other banks," Castilla said.
The two also partnered on a second venture aimed at providing aid in the forgiveness portion of the CARES Act's small-business relief program.
When the Small Business Administration (SBA) released the forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, many bankers and small businesses owners found the 11-page document confusing and burdensome.
"There wasn't any type of tool to guide you through it and we knew we had small-business customers that labored through the PPP application that only received $400 or $1,000. They were that desperate to get the funds that they went through this robust application to be able to get just a little bit of liquidity," Castilla said. "We knew that that was going to be overwhelming."
Cuban reached out to Castilla after he'd heard reports that businesses were struggling with the application.
In partnership with software firm Teslar Software, Castilla and Cuban launched ppp.bank, a free website that automates the PPP forgiveness application. Cuban provided the server capacity for the site, which they were able to launch within 10 days, Castilla said.
"It was so cool to see this kind of crowdsourcing for a product for small businesses that really didn't benefit anybody that was involved, other than trying to alleviate some of the anxiety of the small-business customers," she said.
Cuban praised Castilla's quick action on the two projects.
"She was amazing," the "Shark Tank" star said. "She was no talk and all action. She didn't hesitate, she put her customers first and got s--- done."
Clagett said a key strength of Castilla's is her willingness to engage with her customers during times of uncertainty, as well as mobilize her team, no matter how small.
"She's at a very small financial institution, but she is a big thinker that is able to take that small bank and execution and really build it into something that's purposeful and meaningful," Clagett said. "She really understands how to engage an audience."
It's not uncommon to see Castilla list her cell phone number in a tweet, encouraging customers and noncustomers to reach out with questions about PPP or the forgiveness application.
"A lot of goodness has come from sharing my cell phone number through the years, and this was no exception," Castilla said. "A little bank in Oklahoma with one location can have a seat at the table because we have a network. What I like about social media is that you can find the people that can get you to where you need to be to make the impact that you're called to make."