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Q&A with Shizuka and Sam Buckley, founders of Giv Local

by on December 31, 2018 1:19 PM

In June 2018, Shizuka Buckley, her husband, Sam Buckley, and their friend, Christian Baum, launched Giv Local – a State College-based credit card processing company with a socially responsible twist.

Giv Local charges businesses a credit card processing rate that is equal to or less than the rate the merchant is currently paying. In turn, the merchant chooses at least one local, verified charity to benefit. As long as the charity passes certain requirements, Giv Local donates 20 percent of the revenue it makes from the processing fees to that nonprofit.

Town&Gown met with Shiz and Sam Buckley to ask them more about their unique business model.

T&G: How did you come up with the idea behind Giv Local?

Shiz: It was something we thought of a few years back, but we put it off because we were in different careers and it didn’t feel like the right time. But in December of 2017, I felt like we were ready for a change. Personally, I had just gone through some difficult things and I was ready to do something very meaningful. I took everything I had learned in my past career and I wrote down all these things I wanted to do with my life, pros and cons, and the biggest thing was how I wanted to impact people in a positive way; I want to help nonprofits and businesses and my community. I showed Sam, and he said, “OK Maybe we can do that through credit card processing.”

Once we started researching everything and we figured out it was doable, there was no turning back.

T&G: Can you explain how your business model creates a win-win-win situation for businesses, nonprofits, and the community as a whole?

Sam: There just is no downside to it. That’s kind of the amazing appeal, and why we’ve experienced amazing growth already. The charities win because they end up finding a new revenue source they’ve never had before and can actually budget against. The businesses win in two ways, because on top of saving them money on the credit card processing fees they are already paying, we give them a way to help these nonprofits that they may already be donating to by increasing how they’re helping; or, maybe they were never big enough to have a budget to donate, and now they’ll be able to contribute something without hurting their bottom line.

Shiz: So the bigger picture is, the business is saving money, which to me could mean they are able to hire more people or maybe now there’s room to grow their business in other ways. And for nonprofits, there’s a lot of time and energy spent fundraising, so if they know they have this steady stream of money coming in, maybe their energy can be focused on other things. … That is why I feel like the whole thing comes together to help the community. It can create jobs, save money, and the money is kept local.

T&G: To start this company, Sam left a solid banking career of many years, and Shiz left a management position with Chloe & Isabel. Did you have any trepidations about leaving your careers?

Sam: Yes, definitely. As much as you want to go out and do something on your own, it’s kind of a hard thing to cut the safety net of a salary. Ultimately, it was the push from Shiz and all of our research, running financial projections, and seeing that, yeah, this is going to work; we would pretty much have to sit on our hands for this not to work. And then it was a light bulb moment, where we thought, if we don’t do this, we’re doing a bunch of people a disservice, ourselves included.

Shiz: It was scary, sure, but at the same time it was just one of those things where I felt like, if we don’t do this, oh, my gosh, we’re always going to regret it. We can’t let that happen. Life is very short.

T&G: Where do you see the company heading?

Sam: Although our focus is here in Centre County right now, this model will work anywhere in the United States, and that is what we are working towards. But we are extremely picky; we are very mindful of who we’re going to bring on. There’s a certain culture that we are working to establish.

Shiz: Credit card processing is such a muddy industry, and we’ve worked very hard at making this very transparent, and the last thing we want to do is tarnish that. We do want to help communities everywhere. That’s our goal. We just want to make sure we do it the right way.

T&G: How are you preparing for Giv Local’s inevitable growth?

Sam: I was taught by a mentor a long time ago that if you prepare when you’re small to be exponentially larger than you are, when you do become larger, you won’t be shocked and your business is not going to suffer. So we are extremely organized, and we have five or six different business plans based on different scenarios.

Shiz: We prepared for growth from the very beginning, before we even launched, and thank God we did. We’re growing at a crazy pace. I never thought we’d get to this point so quickly.

 

For more information about Giv Local, visit givlocal.com.

Karen Walker is a freelance writer in State College.

 

 

 

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