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  • Founders: Artjom Pestov and Paolo Piana
  • Founded in: 2021
  • Employees: 2
  • Money raised: -
  • Ultimate goal: Enable and enhance credit card and contactless donations for street artists

Who carries around wallets with them anymore? Throughout the pandemic, it became obvious to co-founders Artjom Pestov and Paolo Piana that cashless payments were becoming the new normal. Through their web-based QR code application, the IT- and marketing-driven duo saw an opportunity to facilitate payments for the next generation of street performers.

When did you come up with the idea for this QR code-based start-up and which events inspired it?

“Actually, there are two stories here. One is my story and the second one is that of my co-founder’s, Paolo. I was kind of inspired by two things: First of all, I began seeing the mass adoption of QR codes. I started my IT agency in 2014. Since then, I have constantly been working with different types of technologies, but especially liked the simplicity of QR codes. The second part was the adoption of credit cards.” 

How did you and your co-worker meet and become involved in the further development of this idea?

“I met my Italian co-worker and co-founder of three or four years ago. I was travelling around several countries and was visiting the Czech Republic, sitting in a cafe and working when I saw that he was reading the same book as I was, which got us talking. He said to me that he was also into technology and marketing. We became friends, started visiting each other and kept in touch online.”

Recently, he came and saw me in Barcelona. After his visit, I started to think about QR payment systems. I programmed everything for this idea and sent it to him. When we discussed this, he told me that he had had the same incentives and argued about whose idea it originally was. I think this is a case of how creative ideas get spread around when there is a need for them to be made. From my perspective, is an idea that we both synthesized while trying to look for contactless, cashless payment solutions.”

There are bigger market competitors for cashless payments, like the machine by iZettle. What makes a superior option in your view?

“One aspect is that these terminals are too big and need manual assistance to set up payments. Why not use a mobile phone checkout instead, since they are straightforward and already in use?”

“With, we bring the same experience offline. Registration takes 5 minutes, you simply need to give your name, your email, phone number and billing address. And after that, you are all set up and can create your own personal page, add your Instagram account and your social profile. It’s an easy setup using a QR code that you can generate as a PDF to print out without using so much plastic. This may be the hardest part, because it leads back to hardware since you need to print the code somehow. We are still thinking about how to solve this in order to make it easier for users, but it is already an easier, more handy solution.” 

“The second thing is the opportunity as a seller to personalise your payment success page. You are able to ask for more details from people, for example, so that you can determine and personalize which information they see after the payment. For instance, you can add videos or calls to action, such as Patreon links. We are creating a marketing funnel system for people who have given you a tip. You can build your audience and community, which you are not able to do if people just give you cash or pay you using credit cards.” 

What are other success page add-ons you are considering?

“Especially for independent artists, we are thinking about giving them the option to upload their music to the platform and basically to sell it directly via the checkout. This could be done for merchandise links as well. It’s not only the donation part, could basically also be a kind of aggregator for your connection to people, a mini-site with links to social media and extended links.”

“We are also thinking about adding a ticket widget. This would enable people who buy something there to also purchase a tour ticket after checkout. We basically want to provide an opportunity to create a mini-site with all the links you need in one place so that artists can focus on their music and creative process.” 

What are your plans for the upcoming years when it comes to expanding your app?

“We don’t have any investors, it is our private idea and a kind of spin-off. For me, it would be really interesting if it were to be adopted widely. Since I cannot really predict anything at this point, my biggest hope is to be able to scale it up to several thousand artists and reduce fees for payments going to the server from the current 2.9 % to a lower rate. Paolo runs an Indie magazine in Italy and has been thinking about promotions for artists, so we do have bigger plans, but are trying to get to grips with the landscape first.”

Photo: founders Paolo Piana and Artjom Pestov (left), application interface (right)