Homecoming Q&A: Mark Thompson
Buffalo Homecoming staff report
Buffalo native Mark Thompson co-founded PayKickstart with business partner Matt Callen in 2016 after they noticed an increasing need in online payment solutions.
The Raleigh, N.C.-based company has grown since and has a stable of employees who work remotely around the country.
Thompson, who got his start in the tech sector by way of marketing, is a graduate from Williamsville East High School and LeMoyne College in Syracuse. We caught up with him to learn more about the business and more.
How do you describe PayKickstart and how did the idea for the business come together?
PayKickstart is an online billing and affiliate management platform. The idea came out of pure necessity as the existing solutions to accept payment, manage recurring revenue and affiliate partners were outdated and archaic. So, we built the early version of what is now PayKickstart, to power our own businesses.
As we started showing other entrepreneurs and tech influencers what we were doing, we quickly realized that the bigger opportunity was to allow similar online businesses to leverage what we built. Fast forward five years, it has quickly turned into a leading solution with over 1,200 companies using PayKickstart as their billing backbone.
How has the pandemic impacted things?
We have been extremely fortunate, as the pandemic has actually required more businesses to have a larger presence online. More businesses are starting to rely on the internet to accept payments and manage customer information. Since the end of March, traffic has seen a 30-40% uptick in traffic to our site.
Do you keep tabs with the startup and tech communities in Buffalo and Western New York?
I do. Many of my friends from school still reside in the Buffalo area and are in a similar space as I am, so it's great to hear about new startups and products coming out of my hometown.
What's neat about that sector of business in the Raleigh area?
The Raleigh-Durham area has become the Silicon Valley of the East. With our own mini version of a tech bubble, it includes the Research Triangle Park, the Tech Incubator in Durham and many successful startups such as Citrix and RedHat in the Raleigh area.
Do you see some similarities in perhaps where that region was in your first few years there to what is happening now in the Buffalo area with the growth of various tech-centered businesses?
What I love about starting an online business is it's easier and more affordable than ever before. Many blue collar, industrial cities like Buffalo are reinventing themselves to keep up with the rapidly-changing technological world we are living in today.