This summer, the Small Business Challenge kicked off in Austin, Texas on the heels of a successful six-month pilot program in San Jose. The program matched PayPal engineers with local small businesses and entrepreneurs with the dual purpose of driving economic growth in the communities where eBay Inc. does business, as well as giving eBay Inc. employees the opportunity to work with customers in a high-touch, hands-on capacity.
The brainchildren of PayPal’s Technology Engagement Sr. Director Aimie Aronica, the programs in both San Jose and Austin were designed in partnership with the local city officials to cater to the specific needs of the community and to take advantage of the skills of local eBay Inc. employees.
“Not only are our employees getting incredible insight and value by working directly with our customers,” said Aronica, “But we – and our city official partners in both San Jose and Austin – are optimistic about the potential for the program to drive growth and achieve real impact for the community.”
The San Jose pilot program, which ran from October 2012 to April 2013, was set up as a contest of sorts, encouraging the seven teams participating to compete against one another to deliver ‘the most valuable business solution’ over a six-month period. The winners of the San Jose pilot included Valley Verde, a local nonprofit that brings backyard vegetable gardens to low-income families, and Strike Brewery, a local Bay Area craft-brewer.
The success of the San Jose pilot and early conversations with Austin city officials have generated lots of excitement in Texas. It even grabbed the attention of Texas governor Rick Perry, who gave the program his seal of approval and said he was interested in finding ways to expand it beyond the state capitol. Six nonprofits in the Austin community have been identified and project teams — consisting of 30 employees from across eBay, PayPal, and Magento – will begin training this month and kick off their projects shortly after.
Stay tuned for updates!