In the last five years, Chris DiMarco has been building a small ecommerce empire in Old City.
He started light fixture retailer Lamps.com, then an ecommerce shop for employees called Payroll Shopping and now, he’s building a payments startup called PerPay. He just raised $2 million from angels in Philadelphia and New York City and opened a 5,600-square-foot office in Center City to house the nearly two dozen staffers employed across the three companies.
PerPay grew out of Payroll Shopping, where companies sign up to let their employees shop and the payment gets automatically deducted from their paycheck on a monthly basis. PerPay is kind of like a layaway plan that’s tied to your paycheck, except you own the item as soon as you make your first payment. (Payroll Shopping buys the items wholesale and drop-ships them.)
DiMarco, 39, and his cofounder Keith Angell, 39, call it a “healthier way to budget.”
The $2 million raise is to develop a customer-facing version of PerPay. Investors include MissionOG’s Andy Newcomb (with his angel investor hat on, not his MissionOG hat) and Free People COO David Hayne, who’s a cofounder. They decided not to take the venture capital route, they said, because they wanted to choose a group of angel investors who could act as advisors.
DiMarco handed on the Lamps.com reins to Anthony Balsamo last summer to focus on PerPay. Hayne, DiMarco and Balsamo know each other from their childhood days at East Falls’ William Penn Charter School.
DiMarco often taps into his school networks when building a team: he recruited Angell, whom he met at Lafayette College, to run Payroll Shopping two years ago. Angell, who spent most of his career at investment banks, moved from New York City to Philly to run the company. He now lives in Chestnut Hill and his children go to Springside Chestnut Hill Academy along with DiMarco’s.
DiMarco and Angell are especially proud of their new digs, on the eighth floor of the Biddle Building at 1217 Sansom St. (CloudMine moved into the Biddle Building earlier this year, and Lamps.com/PerPay/Payroll Shopping spent some time coworking with them while their office was getting built.)