Business Rx: Put down the wallet, there may be a better way to pay
If you're a parent, you know your child seems to always need money for something -- a check for a field trip, monthly dues for swim club, a contribution to the marching band booster club. It can be difficult to keep track. Jay Bass and business partner Don Segal think they might have a business to help with that.
With more than 30 years in the education industry and 25 years in Web-based data analysis respectively, the duo started a Falls Church-based company to help organizations collect credit card payments online, streamlining the process for parents and helping organizations get paid on time.
Bass and Segal say their customizable Internet platform could be used for any type of organization that needs to collect money -- schools, after-school programs, scouting programs, sororities and fraternities, religious organizations, recreation clubs -- and they estimate the dues, fees and payments for these types of organizations total between $60 billion to $70 billion in the United States annually. And as both are fathers with six children between the two of them, they each can speak from experience on why their business idea would be helpful to busy parents.
"Our company, Payment Partners Inc., eliminates check-writing (and mailing forms) for community organization fees and payments via a Web-based, consolidated payment tool, and addresses the waste of time and labor by an organization's staff and volunteers. We offer one site for organizations to list and keep track of all payments, information and records for members. As an added benefit, the organizations can earn additional revenue as well.
"No other product (not even PayPal) is designed to be as interactive and handle the collection of payments in a long customized menu from any type of organization. For the K-12 schools market, Pay4SchoolStuffOnline.com can be customized, provides detailed records, and allows multiple stakeholders from the same organization to have separate access and accounts. We offer the capacity to upload forms and maintain records and a database for nonpayment information as well. The system offers parents and other users a secure, convenient, easy-to-use platform to remit all of their payments for kids in different grades and schools -- all in one place.
"We had a successful launch this fall and have several dozen clients using our system, but now how do we take this concept that we've proven works and scale it up?"
Asher Epstein, managing director, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
"Conceptually, you've got the market, you've got the idea, but it feels like you're trying to be too many things to too many people right now. Ultimately, you can be all those things to all those people, but you can't start out there.