Startup co-founder speaks to Paly journalism students

Addie McNamara and Allison Cowie

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Paystik co-founder Mary Minno speaks to the staff of The Paly Voice about her company’s product. Minno, a former Paly journalism student, hopes her story will inspire the next wave of students to pursue a career in journalism or technology. Photo by Cathy Rong.

The co-founder of a local startup company who visited Palo Alto High School today hopes to inspire students to involve themselves in the world of technology and the culture of new businesses.

Mary Minno, a former Verde managing editor and Paly Voice staff member, spoke to Palo Alto High School students today about her journey leading to the creation of her startup company Paystik, a scan-to-pay application that allows users to donate to charity or pay different companies associated with Paystik via their smartphones.

Unlike other applications, such as Square, which requires both the customer and the service provider to be present in order for the transaction to work, Paystik only involves Quick Response Codes, more commonly referred to as QR Codes, eliminating the need for face-to-face payment.

“What we’re focusing on right now is enabling payments from any surface,” Minno said. “Essentially, you’d use your smartphone as a self-checkout device, and how we’re leveraging that right now is with charities and nonprofits. For example, we worked with the Red Cross for some Hurricane Sandy relief, and what we offer is the ability for donors to give instantly and right on the spot, using their smartphone.”

In addition to working with large charitable organizations, Minno sees the potential of the application extending to a more local level, such as conducting payments for a dog walker.

“If it’s a dog walker who’s walking my dog during the day I might never see him, so [by using Paystik] I can pay when he’s not around,” Minno said, eliminating the need to have both parties present to complete the transaction.

While Paystik is a young, small company, it already has made an impact for its clients.

“We had our official launch in December, with a top-200 charity called Project CURE [Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment] and it went really well,” Minno said. “We are on their direct mail campaign, and they now using our QR codes on all their different outreach campaigns.”

Minno had encouraging words for students interested in careers involving technology, particularly startups.

“If you’re interested in working at a technology company, especially a startup in Silicon Valley that’s really small, you’re going to be responsible for making things happen, and being creative and executing and I think a lot of the tools that you learn as journalists help people do that,” she said.