Calgary startup spotlight: PayLab Networks

Each day 70 million transactions take place at more than six million vending machines across North America.  Enter PayLab, a mobile application and point-of-sale device that enables vending operators to easily accept payment from more than 100 million North American consumers currently carrying a smart phone, while eliminating excessive transaction fees associated with current cashless systems.

We just talked to the founder Mike Gron to learn more.

How did you come up with the idea for your startup? Was there an “ah-ha” moment?

Increasing credit card fees faced by both merchants and consumers has created an opportunity for all kinds of alternative payment solutions and vending is a great case study to demonstrate what can be done with a little creativity and some market knowledge.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

The hardware engineering and testing has been interesting, but certainly challenging.

Are there any key individuals outside of your organization that have been of great help to your startup?

Several vend operators within the industry have been very generous with their time, as have a number of local veteran tech entrepreneurs including David Hanowski and Kevin Hein formerly with Teamplate and Richard Weston and Dayton Foster from Tynt.

What’s new with your startup that we can share? 

We recently presented PayLab at the Plug and Play Launch and Startup Showdown, which was a great event with investors from Calgary and Silicon Valley as well as Mayor Nenshi in attendance.  We also presented at the Start Up Calgary Launch Party on Nov. 14th.

Personally, do you think it is more difficult to raise capital or find the right talent?

It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario; it’s a challenge to get one without the other.  My only suggestion would be to try to stay connected with the local tech community and don’t be shy about letting people know what you’re working on.

What has contributed to your success to this point?

Get to know your audience. I’ve spent a lot of time in trucks and warehouses getting to know the ins and outs of the industry.

What made you choose to go down the path of entrepreneurship? 

I’ve heard others say “entrepreneurship choose them” and I think there’s a lot of truth in that. There’s a challenge in it that you really can’t find anywhere else.

What are your thoughts on Calgary’s startup community? 

There are a lot of startups working on some very interesting projects, but there is still too much of a disconnect between those entrepreneurs and the type of investors needed to propel them to the next level.  I think what’s really needed at this point is the type of angel investor tax credit structure currently in place in B.C. that would even the playing field and incentivise investors to get directly involved.

What’s your ask right now? What do you and your startup need?

We are currently raising our initial round of financing in order to ramp up production of our point of sales device and round out our development team.

Look for PayLab on a vending machine near you!


Lloyed Lobo covers Calgary’s tech startup community.  He is a Partner at Boast Capital and a Board Member for Startup Calgary.

This interview was originally published by Start Up Calgary, a non-profit organization focused on cultivating the tech start-up community in Calgary.