Women-Centered Tech Company ‘Born in the Palisades’

Ettus with Park Place Payments account executives
Photos courtesy of Samantha Ettus

By EMILY SAWICKI | Contributing Writer

Samantha Ettus is a Harvard-educated entrepreneur, author, renowned speaker and radio host—and she just launched a brand-new company that was founded here in Pacific Palisades, where she’s lived with her family for the past eight years.

Samantha Ettus

Her newest venture, Park Place Payments, is seeking to up-end the payment processing industry by providing updated technology and increased customer service “delivered by a company that cares.”

It is also focused on providing a professional pathway for smart, educated women seeking to re-enter the workforce after years away raising families or pursuing other goals.

Park Place, which has account executives in cities across the country, has an office here in the Palisades—“where the company was born.”

Ettus, a native New Yorker, said she first heard about the Palisades from a post on Twitter.

One day in 2011, while she and her husband were living in a cramped New York City apartment along with their three young kids, Ettus said she and her husband looked around and decided it was time they moved somewhere with a little more space.

“We realized we were one of the only families in New York that didn’t need to be in New York,” Ettus recalled, so they “went on Twitter and wrote, ‘What’s the most idyllic town in America?’ Thirteen responses and one of them is ‘Pacific Palisades.’”

Once they looked it up, they realized it was just where they needed to be.

Eight years later, Ettus and her family live in El Medio Bluffs and two of her kids go to Seven Arrows Elementary School. She said after a tough first year of transition, she and her husband have “a wonderful group of friends who are like family,” and even had some family members also move to town.

It’s also where inspiration for her payment processing company took shape.

So, what is payment processing? Ettus explained it like this:

“Basically, any business—from a hair salon to a dentist office—that accepts credit cards, has an intermediary—[between] American Express or Visa [and] the business,” she described.

That’s where Park Place comes in. The company works as intermediary, with account executives helping small businesses set up accounts.

The idea for the company came after Ettus spent the past decade counseling professional women, many of whom were left “on the sidelines” after leaving their jobs to have kids. Ettus saw that, of the women who were able to re-enter the workforce, many were selling makeup and jewelry to their friends, not engaging in more fulfilling and lucrative paths. Those women would now be able to take an online course and become account executives.

“For the last 10, years I’ve been working with women on their work-life balance and helping them have healthy framework to have a work-life balance in their business and personal lives,” Ettus described. “For women who wanted to re-enter the workplace, all I could offer them is inspiration, knowing that the way back is difficult for so many reasons.”

After a while, Ettus said, it dawned on her that she could form a company with that goal in mind: “The solution is a company that would allow them to earn recurring revenue within a schedule they could create, so they make their own schedules.”

Already, more than two dozen small businesses in the Palisades have signed on to the company, through the hard work of local Park Place account executive and former teacher Jill Lipsky, who also lives in the Palisades.

“Since it’s recurring revenue, every time she adds a business, it’s adding recurring income,” Ettus described. “She just keeps adding businesses … She’s doing phenomenally well.”

As for the company, Ettus said it’s an idea she’s proud to call her own.

“People will say to me, ‘This is so unsexy. You used to be on the ‘Today Show’ all the time, and now you’re talking about credit card processing,’” Ettus said with a laugh in a recent interview with the Palisadian-Post.

“I’m actually not talking about credit card processing. I’m talking about women’s financial independence, and nothing is sexier to me than that.”