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April 28, 2020

Worcester entrepreneur pivots restaurant app amid COVID-19 crisis

Photo | Courtesy of paerpay Derek Canton, founder of paerpay

Massachusetts startup paerpay from Worcester entrepreneur Derek Canton has made a shift during the coronavirus pandemic from developing a restaurant app for dining rooms to one offering a safer and more secure method for takeout and delivery, he said during an interview on the WBJ Podcast.

"Our core product was focused on on-premise dining, and for obvious reasons, we couldn't move forward with that at the moment," said Canton, who developed the startup in Worcester although moved its headquarters to Boston after being accepted into the MassChallenge Boston startup accelerator program.

As part of the effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Massachusetts has closed restaurant dining rooms until at least May 4, along with other non-essential businesses.

The old version of the app allowed diners to view, pay and split their bills without having to interact with their server, and paerpay was testing at restaurants like Legal Sea Foods and those from Niche Hospitality Group of Worcester. In the new version, when people order over the phone for their delivery or takeout, they are sent a text where they can review their bill and pay it through the app. This avoids the situations where customers either have to give out their credit card information over the phone or interact with a restaurant takeout or delivery employee by handing over cash or their credit cards, which violates social distancing guidelines.

Paerpay is working with the Massachusetts Restaurant Association to roll out the app and has signed a handful of restaurants, Canton said. The company is trying to take the technology nationwide.

For the full interview, listen to this week's episode of the WBJ Podcast, The Weekly Business Report, which includes an interview with bankHometown CEO and President Robert Morton about the $320-billion round of small business bailouts amid the coronavirus crisis. The Weekly Business Report is produced by Worcester Business Journal and Radio Worcester.

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