This founder spotlight is brought to you by Small Biz Silver Lining.
Many business owners are simply looking for a steady business model after months and months of pivoting. And as long as people still spend money, best-selling author and motivational speaker Samantha Ettus might have found just that with Park Place Payments.
Founded by Ettus in 2018, Park Place is a women-owned company offering payment solutions for businesses, including everything from mobile terminals to restaurant and retail point-of-sale (POS) systems, e-commerce shopping carts, and more. Payment processing is a crowded space filled with big-name competitors like Square and Clover, but Ettus designed a unique sales model that provides opportunity for women account executives and offers a superior customer experience.
What does this look like in practice? Park Place recruits independent contractors who are encouraged to sell payment processing services to local businesses with whom they have existing relationships. For example, if an account executive lands a deal with their favorite bookstore, they earn 50% of the revenue from every credit card sale that that business processes for the life of the account. If a business processes $25,000 in credit/debit card sales each month, account executives earn approximately $50 of that total. Land a dozen or so accounts, and the self-sustaining income can become quite lucrative.
“I felt like the next step in helping women thrive was helping them achieve financial independence for their lives,” says Ettus, who holds an MBA from Harvard and makes regular appearances on shows like Good Morning America and Today.
Ettus believes Park Place is taking a bite from a huge market ready for disruption. Every business that accepts credit cards — from a hair salon to a yoga studio to a restaurant — has an intermediary that processes transactions. And unfortunately, this corner of the financial technology field is plagued by high fees and poor service. Park Place sees its biggest selling points as white-glove customer service and transparent pricing.
Each sales relationship begins with a free “payment checkup” to compare a business’ current pricing, service, and processing technology to the equivalent Park Place offering. “We present our analysis in a comprehensive proposal that identifies whether a business should switch to us or stick with what they have,” explains Ettus. “There is no other company in the industry that does this.”
Ettus believes no one should have to spend money to earn money, so training in the Park Place Payment portal is free for any prospective account executives looking for an opportunity.
“Park Place is dedicated to creating financial independence for people on the sidelines, which is why we have such a diverse salesforce,” she says. Account executives can make as little or as much as they like depending on how much time they’re willing to put into it.
Ettus spent 2018 testing the business model in six different cities, training account executives who were all former doctors, newscasters, flight attendants, and even an Olympic gold medalist looking for a “second act.” “Based on their success, we raised our first round of funding last June, $1 million, and now we’re in the middle of finishing our seed round,” Ettus says.
You’d think COVID-19 might pump the brakes on this new-ish venture, but the opposite is true. Park Place just hit 240 account executives this year and projects an additional 1,000 by the end of the year.
Why the uptick in sales? Businesses are suddenly seeking to upgrade their payment systems to accommodate contactless payments or bring their business online with an e-commerce shopping cart service like 3DCart. “COVID has actually been very positive for our business,” says Ettus.
Park Place also sees its business as an opportunity for anyone who’s lost their job amid unprecedented joblessness, making good on its mission of changing lives and helping individuals take control of their employment.
“We’ve definitely seen an influx of interest in our account executive program more than ever before,” Ettus says. “We really want this to be life insurance for the people who are putting time into it. There are plenty of men in this industry who have been around for years and are making six and seven figures a year. We want that for our execs as well.”
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