Small Merchant Advocacy Delegation

The Small Merchant Advocacy Delegation is a group of PayPal merchants from all over the world, advocating for the interests of small Internet enabled companies. Our team helps enable the group in making their voices heard on policy issues that have a direct effect on not only their business, but ours. PayPal SMAD engages policymakers around the world to ensure the future growth and prosperity of small businesses.

Christina Battle

In 2012, Christina Battle, armed with a dream of owning her own store took a leap of faith. Instead of waiting to figure out how to get into a very expensive SF storefront, she got a crazy idea to start her business more non-traditionally; by turning a 24ft old bread truck into her own clothing store on wheels! Christina was able to launch Top Shelf Boutique and make her mark on the fashion industry as a mobile retailer and one of the first of her kind in San Francisco.

One of the tools that Christina uses to grow her business is PayPal Working Capital. “It's great! Saves the day when you just need a little cash boost at the beginning of a season, or when you need to do some upgrades or buy more inventory and don't want to end up searching and waiting for a traditional loan. It's immediate, and you know up front what it will cost you. No wondering and fluctuating interest rates or missing a payment. I love it!”

After a year of gaining attention of customers and press alike, as well as appearing at a multitude of Bay Area events where she could park her Fashion Truck, she was able to land herself a spot inside a pop-up shop. The rest is history. Christina Battle, owner of TopShelf Style, now owns a storefront while growing her online presence as well. With the wonderful growth that Christina’s business has experienced she has decided to sell her truck and focus solely on her store and website. Support Christina’s small business by visiting her store and doing a little online shopping in the spirit of Fashion Week!

www.topshelfstyle.com

Fabrice Gaumont & Jean-Baptiste Queromes

Jean-Baptiste and Fabrice, both come from backgrounds in engineering and technology. Jean worked as an information technology consultant for 10 years, while Fabrice at the same time was working on product development teams in the telecom industry. During a year away from work to travel, Jean-Baptiste become aware of a problem in the marketplace; tremendous roaming charges outside of your country. When you travel, you don’t pay for water and electricity. Why should you have to pay more for your mobile internet? The two entrepreneurs both coming from a technology background, had the expertise to come up with a solution. And so, in May of 2014, they started Bienvenue Wifi, providing simple, affordable, and efficient mobile internet connections to keep people connected when traveling in France. Since then the two have partnered with a number of hotels and other tourism professionals. The company, while still very new, is growing quickly with the needs that they serve. The internet and PayPal have provided instant access to customer from all over the world.

“All sales on our website go through PayPal. It is very easy and there are no barriers. 90% of our customers are from other countries, so PayPal offers a global solution that is trusted. Our customers can pay with whatever credit card they want in whatever currency they want and PayPal takes care of it. It has allowed us to be a global company from the start.”

“The best part of owning our own business is freedom. We were tired of our old jobs and wanted to take advantage of our own ideas. We are our own bosses now. It is a great challenge and we are working on the fundamental needs of our customers.”

Check out Jean-Baptiste and Fabrice’s store at www.bienvenue-wifi.com

Greg Reece

Greg Reece Comics started as a small brick-and-mortar store in the 90’s. However, the small business wasn't making ends meet and Greg had to close the shop. He entered the corporate world and started working his way up the ladder, making a name for himself in the floor/tile business. However, after 15 years of hard work, the housing crash hit the industry hard. Growing tired of the corporate world, Greg started selling comics online in his spare time, revisiting his entrepreneurial roots. After spending some time working long hours and long weekends growing his business on the side, he jumped over full time in 2010, leaving his corporate job.

Greg continued to grow the business over the next couple of years until 2013 the operation became too big to manage on his own. Greg’s son Alex came aboard as the first employee of Greg Reece Comics. The father-son operation has now continued to grow approximately 25% annually, selling to a worldwide audience of customers. The nature of rare comic books feeds perfectly into the online marketplace and they hope to continue growing and providing the best service to their customers.

“PayPal is, worldwide, the most recognizable and accepted payments processing platform. It is the go to for a lot of our customers, so it is a no brainer for small businesses. Everyone has it and everyone trusts it. When you get a payment through PayPal, you know your money is good. We have used PayPal as long as the business has been around.”

Check out Greg’s family business here www.gregreececomics.com

Sanjay Aggarwal

Sanjay Aggarwal has always been a small business owner, building his own recruitment company after graduating. However, this small business story is less about what Sanjay built for himself, and more about what he built for his family.

Sanjay grew up learning what it took to run a small business. For 35 years his parents owned a small gardening and hardware shop, which became a staple of their community. Ten years ago, Sanjay’s parent’s sold their shop and went into retirement. However, that didn't suite their ambitious personalities. Looking for something to occupy their time, Sanjay decided to set up a small spice business for his mother. “My mom is extremely talented, so I wanted to create a business around her skills,” said Sanjay. Sanjay’s mother is extremely talented in Indian cuisine, and began hand mixing her own spices to sell. The family began selling some of these products online and the business began to take off. A mixture of talent and passion has proven to be the perfect recipe, along with a personal connection with their customers. The online marketplace has opened up Spice Kitchen’s family business to the world.

“It is exciting to own the business because you never know what is going to happen tomorrow. I run the business with my parents and it is amazing to do that and have it bring us closer together. We are sharing in the excitement of the business and surprise each other with what we can accomplish.”

Check out Sanjay’s family business here http://www.spicekitchenuk.com/

Josh Dowden

Josh Dowden is a small business owner, but unlike most small business owners, he has also been serving on active duty in the U.S. Navy for the last 25 years. Josh joined the Navy in 1991, becoming an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (bomb tech), and traveling the world. In 2002, while stationed on shore duty, Josh decided to start his own small embroidery business in his free time, sewing hats and shirts for guys in his unit.

For the next 5 or 6 years, Josh continued with the business as a hobby to earn some additional cash. In 2007, he decided to put a couple of his items online, and the business took off. Josh realized that there was a market for selling the garments themselves without the embellishments. Eventually the business evolved into doing just headwear and blank hats. By 2008, the business had grown to the point where, as an active duty service member, Josh couldn't handle the business on his own anymore. Since then, Josh has hired 6 employees and growth has continued to skyrocket. Josh loves owning his own small business!

“I love the freedom of owning my own business. You get to own every decision good or bad. The latitude and freedom to pursue a dream is great. There is no ceiling on it. I can work hard and grow and smile at the final product.”

Josh is also a new member of the Small Merchant Advocacy Delegation, joining a community of small business owners from all over the world advocating for the protection and promotion of small-business-friendly policies.

John Moesta

John Moesta started sharpening knives from his home as a hobby about three years ago. Soon thereafter, he decided to add a retail component to his growing hobby and ultimately took it full-time after spending 20 years in the customer service industry. From there, he invested in his company’s growth by expanding services and his product line. In fact, growth has been a central focus for John from the start. He decided that the more products you sell, the more money you can make, and that’s why he made an investment to expand his product line. Dull Knife Terminator now sells high quality hiking, camping, hunting, and survival equipment in addition to knives. After just three short years, John’s small business is thriving. Last year, Dull Knife Terminator exported 15% of its products to 22 countries around the world.

One of the ways that he has achieved his goal of offering a wide range of products is taking advantage of the PayPal Working Capital program. John says he has used the program at least 10 times, and each experience has been great. “I use the loan for inventory and it leverages us to be able to offer the products we need to stay competitive. It is a no brainer. PayPal opens a lot of doors for us.”

John is also a committed member of the Small Merchant Advocacy Delegation. Two years ago, John traveled to Washington D.C. to speak with legislators about small business issues.

Check out John’s small business by visiting http://www.sharpernow.com/

Gary Henderson

Before starting Geothermal Products in the early 2000s, Gary worked in a partnership for geothermal installations for seven years. Eventually, he split from the partnership so he could start his own business and have more creative control over the procedures of running the business. For years, 80% of his business was commercial installations and 20% was residential. However, after years in the business Gary saw too many companies overcharging for products and installing them incorrectly.

To lower overhead costs and promote savings for his customers, Gary moved the business to a mostly online operation with the mission to help people save money, go green in energy, and be fair to the consumer in both price and quality. This strategy has helped Gary grow Geothermal Products exponentially. Geothermal Products has doubled in the last two years and Gary expects 25% growth in 2015. Based on the business growth, Gary hopes to add two additional full-time employees in the upcoming months, which would continue to help overall business and sales growth. This growth has also allowed Gary and his company the opportunity to benefit the community in a number of ways.

“I moved to a mostly online presence with the mission of helping people save money and go green,” Gary said. “I’ve always had a passion to be fair to the consumer in both price and quality of products. By going green with Geothermal, we not only help the local community, but have the global influence to encourage self-sustainability and lessen dependence on fossil fuel products.”

“Paypal allows customers that are not familiar with my company to pay for products with assurance that the sale is secured through PayPal customer protections. Paypal also allows us to process transactions in a streamlined manner.”

Gary has been a loyal member of the PayPal Small Merchant Advocacy Delegation, participating in Webinars, submitting letters to elected officials, and even traveled to Washington D.C. to speak directly with legislators about policy issues that would impact PayPal as well as his business.

Marc Ducey

Marc Ducey, owner of Golfetail.com, started his career as a U.S. Naval Officer. After his military service, Marc transitioned to a sales career. While in a sales capacity, Marc saw an opportunity for an ecommerce business and he began selling golf equipment on eBay for additional income. After three years of selling online part-time, Marc decided to take the entrepreneurial leap and dedicate himself to his business full-time. He began buying more inventory and focused on the value and quality of his products.

To this day, GolfEtail is a family owned operation passing great products onto consumers for great prices. GolfEtail continues to grow by offering a broad product line and hiring employees from their local community.

“It's truly a rewarding experience to run your own business. I enjoy solving the business challenges that arise. Owning my own small business also gives me the flexibility to be active in the community where I live.”

Marc has also been a dedicated member of the PayPal Small Merchant Advocacy Delegation for years. Marc joined the community of other small businesses owners to make his voice heard on policy issues that would impact his business as well as PayPal’s. Marc has been extremely active, publishing Op-Eds in the media, participating in video shoots, and even traveling to Washington D.C. to meet with Members of Congress on Capitol Hill.

Marc is also very active in the community where he resides, has served on a range of town committees and was recently an elected member of his local school board.

Larry Connelley

Larry Connelley launched Knife Art in 1998 with the goal of providing a “best of the best” product line to consumers nationwide. Larry and his entire family are proud, life-long residents of Arkansas, the heartland of knife country. Armed with a precise and experienced knowledge of the product line, Larry has been able to steadily expand his business. He prides himself on being able to provide friendly small town customer service to a global consumer base. His workmanlike attitude has helped his company become a staple of quality cutlery retail.

“Owning my own business gives me the freedom and independence to work with my family in my hometown and sell high quality American-made products.”

Knife Art has been mentioned in numerous publications including Knives Illustrated, Blade, Tactical Knives, Field & Stream, and Forbes Life. Larry and his brother Rodney continue to work towards growing and creating more jobs for their local community.

Larry has worked extensively with the PayPal Government Relations team on policy issues that matter to his small business. Larry joined our Small Merchant Advocacy Delegation with other small business owners all over the world, to advocate on behalf of the small-town 21st century shops. Larry has spoken frequently with his Members of Congress on important policy issues, sent a letter to President Obama on cross-border trade, and visited Washington D.C. to meet personally with his elected officials along with our PayPal GR team.

Larry also dedicates as much time as possible to his community. A former Army reserve officer, Larry serves as a Boy Scout master. He also donates to and volunteers for numerous charities in his area.

www.knifeart.com

Eduardo Becerra

Eduardo Becerra was born and raised in Cusco, Peru and attended the Andina University of Cusco. Growing up in the region instilled within Eduardo a love of the Peruvian culture, communities, and natural wonders. The love of his country drove Eduardo into the tourism and hospitality industry. That’s when he started working as an adventure travel tour guide. Soon he discovered that his clients were not just interested in sights and adventures, but were also interested in the Peruvian culture, and traditions of the local communities. Eduardo viewed this as an opportunity for a successful business, launching Cultural Immersion in 2005.

Cultural Immersion accepts 60% of their payments through the PayPal platform. “At the beginning it was difficult to charge the clients traveling from all over the world and it was hard to accept money transfers. We started to try different payment systems that process credit cards but fees are very expensive. Then we found out about PayPal. We are happy that the commission is so small. Through PayPal clients feel safe about their monetary transactions and in turn trust our company,” said Eduardo.

Cultural Immersion is operating with the goal of benefiting the local communities and people of Peru. Cultural Immersion donates a portion of their profit to the communities they visit. Additionally, in order to benefit as many local people as possible, they choose different communities and regions with each of their tours. Throughout the year Eduardo asks clients to bring school supplies along with them on their tours. Cultural Immersion stocks up on these items and gifts them to the children at Christmas.

Through Cultural Immersion, clients from all over the world can now enjoy the monuments and natural wonders of Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, while also experiencing undiscovered areas, and most importantly the culture of the local people.

Ben Werlin

Ben Werlin has always had an entrepreneurial spirit bonded with a passion for the music industry. He decided to join those two aspirations by launching a voice-over demo production company, after earning a degree in music business from the University of Miami. However, Ben and his business partner had a desire for something more. In 2010, while watching the sunset at Yosemite National Park, something told them to open an online vintage guitar store with a mission to help artists of all age and skill find the perfect instrument. Since that day, Music Store Live has grown tremendously, dedicating every second to its customers and products. In 2013, Ben was awarded the Vermont Entrepreneur of the Year award for their success in creating jobs and revenue for their community.

“I love growing and developing my business, strategizing, brainstorming, and being challenged. I love the freedom and flexibility that owning my own business offers me. In the long term, I see it fulfilling my goals to create a residual income stream.”

Ben Werlin is a seasoned advocate for the PayPal Small Merchant Advocacy Delegation. He joined in 2013, at the crux of the battle against Internet sales tax, fighting for the protection of small businesses across the country. Since then, Ben has published editorials in local publications, sent letters to his elected officials, and signed a letter sent to President Obama calling for small business-friendly trade agreements. Ben also traveled to Washington in 2014 to meet personally with Members of Congress, with our team, to discuss policy issues important to Music Store Live and PayPal.

Andy Logan

Andy Logan has been in the Marine product industry for his entire professional career. As a native Oklahoman, Andy began working for Mercury Marine in 1992 after graduating from Oklahoma State University. There he worked as an engineer for a decade. In April of 2002, Andy and his business partner decided to open a business of their own. Rather than opening a brick-and-mortar, they opted for opening an online business. At the time, the Internet marketplace was on the rise. Through Andy’s background and extensive knowledge of the products, Performance Product Technologies has grown successfully, allowing the business to open a brick-and-mortar retail store in 2006.

In 2009, the town of Stillwater took a tough blow when Mercury Marine, a major job provider in the area, abandoned the town. To offset this, Andy makes it a priority to hire local people.

Andy is also 2015 winner of the PayPal Advocacy Leadership Award, an honor given to individuals who have shown exceptional commitment and dedication to working with the eBay Inc. Government Relations team on issues that affect technology-enabled small and medium sized businesses. After attending last year’s U.S. of eBay Advocacy Day, Andy remained in contact with his Congressional offices, sending letters and emails on legislation that needed quick action. Andy also took it upon himself to publish a series of Op-Eds in the Stillwater News Press, as well as constant postings on social media referencing the protection of small business.

Jess Pate

Jess first started selling online while attending Wake Forest University, which at the time was the number one wired college campus in the U.S. After selling a few items on eBay to make some extra money, a light bulb went off and Jess started buying and selling clothes online with ease. Jess continued to sell online part-time, until three years ago when she became pregnant with her first child. She thought of all the people who thrive while operating their own online businesses full-time with the flexibility of creating their own hours. That’s when Jess decided take the leap and she has been selling full-time since.

Jess processes 99% of her orders through PayPal, making it an integral part of her business model. “I am not sure how my business would function without PayPal.” Jess also exports 5% of her products internationally. The online marketplace opens up her small business to a global audience. “If PayPal didn’t exist I wouldn’t have the ability to convert currency without PayPal.”

Owning an online business allows Jess to spend more time with her family and take care of her kids. She also creates jobs, hiring other mothers that need flexible hours, who can bring their kids into work with them. Jess recently traveled to Washington D.C. as a member of the PayPal Small Merchant Advocacy Delegation, working with the PayPal Government Relations team to meet with elected officials on policy issues that impact small businesses.

Chase Robbins

Chase Robbins joined the Small Merchant Advocacy Delegation in May of 2013. Since joining, he has traveled to Washington D.C. multiple times to meet with his elected officials from Kentucky to talk about policy issues that affect his small business. Most recently, Chase came to D.C. to participate in a press conference alongside Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, to talk about how cross-border trade benefits small businesses everywhere.

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Chase Robbins has experienced first-hand the opportunity that the Internet presents for entrepreneurship. In 2001, he was stationed at Fort Knox, in Louisville, KY serving in the U.S. Army. Unfortunately, Chase was unexpectedly injured and medically discharged from the military. Because of his wife’s job, they decided to stay in the area, where Chase was presented with the challenge of finding new employment.

The Internet marketplace was growing quickly, so he and his business partner developed their own eCommerce website, launching Apex Motorsports, Inc. in January 2010. Each of them contributed $800 and began developing the website. Over the next few months they raised $9000 from investors, to help the business takeoff. Their first sale was in March 2010 and they have seen impressive growth since then. Chase and his business partner experienced almost a 400% jump in sales from 2011 to 2012 and were able to grow the business at a 5% growth rate in 2014.