The Man With A Vision- Steve Patzkowski CEO

We’re all here because of our Chief Executive Officer’s vision and purpose. He envisioned the very financial institution that he has worked for many years, the merchant services industry evolving into an ethical solution to the economy. This was an unbelievable thought at first when the large banks were crumbling our US economy and making headlines doing so. He believed that we could remove the greed and run a business with good intentions and transparency. This would gain the trust back from the people and with our fair, low rates save them money and help the success of America’s small businesses. On top of it all, we give 25% of our revenues to non-profits of the merchant’s choice. Talk about power to the people!

Steve has great ideas no doubt, but is also a spiritual man that leads us in our business and social purpose. He is welcoming and a real leader with an abundance of knowledge and positive energy to share. He welcomes each new sales representative and make himself available to the entire Ethix team with weekly live broadcasts, forums and more. Follow Ethix and the team on our website blog, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to see how we are helping communities and broadening our social impact.


Why I Love My Job

Waking up to an alarm used to be hard. I really needed that coffee and was looking for motivation. Yet waking up is easier and coffee is shared with friendly co-workers now and well, I found that motivation in a brick & mortar, repurposed building in the Jack London Square neighborhood of Oakland, CA and within a purpose driven company. I manage this office with pride and enjoy my duties as a community officer.

I love the impact my job has on the world. Just by coming into work and committing to my job and my company’s mission, I make a difference in the world. I may have saved a charitable organization from having to close it’s doors. That organization may be housing, inspiring or keeping safe the world’s next Gandhi, Mother Theresa or Steve Jobs. I know that we might save a small business enough in fees that they can hire another full-time employee. That is HUGE to anyone in the unemployment line!

I work with great people doing great things. I am connecting with new non-profits and causes that inspire me and meeting community partners that have enough passion to save entire little leagues and school music programs! It’s just getting better and I’m so happy to be a part of this movement. I am proud to say I work for Ethix Merchant Services, a socially responsible company.


Brooke Thivierge

CCO- Chief Community Officer & Office Manager

Ethix Merchant Services


Ethix Wins SF Bay Area Social Enterprise Alliance Pitch Night

SEA Pitch NightOn Tuesday of last week I received an email letting me know that Ethix had been selected to present at the Social Enterprise Alliance Pitch Night in San Francisco.  I had been eagerly awaiting the news as it had been some time since I had completed the lengthy application to be included in this event.   I was excited and started to think about what I wanted to say about our company.

Social Enterprise Alliance is “An alliance of leaders across sectors advancing social enterprise to benefit communities.”  This is very much in our wheel house here at Ethix and I was looking forward to the opportunity to get feedback and insight from this audience.  Thursday came around and I headed over the bridge from our Oakland office and into the city.  On arriving, I was welcomed by Antonio Aguilera, President of the SEASF Board and Jan Cohen, a veteran social entrepreneur and SEA Board Member who spoke with myself and the other pitchers about how to make an effective presentation on our young companies.  We picked numbers to determine the order of our pitches and settled in with a packed house to commence the contest.

I pitched second of five and was inspired by everything I heard that night.  It is really amazing to be a part of the Bay Area’s vibrant community of changemakers.  At the end of the evening the audience was asked to vote.  Ethix and Yellow Leaf Hammocks came out in a dead tie for first place in the first vote.  It was very exciting.  In the run off vote, Ethix took the day!

This has been such a powerful validation for myself and my amazing team of partners who are working to build this company.  We know that we are doing something powerful through re purposing a much maligned model in financial services to make it work for communities but it is really meaningful to share that and have it validated by an organization like Social Enterprise Alliance.  I feel very appreciative of the opportunity and pretty psyched about the results.

Getting Technical With Our CTO Brian Thivierge

Brian perfectly fills the position of Chief Technical Officer here at Ethix. His wealth of knowledge, experience, sensibility and compassion for the “dumb” questions keeps us all working with confidence that we are in good hands. Like all of our other team members, Brian is incredibly valuable in his department and all the other areas that we finagle him into.  Brian maintains the computers, phones, office equipment, website, forums, live webcasts, newsletters, and even the marketing material and e-tools that many will see or use. He has been called a web guru, marketing genius but most importantly he is “our tech guy.” Thankfully his tech knowledge is paired with his creative ideas that help build and improve our growing company. So, technically speaking we’re not just lucky to have him, we’re thrilled!

The Not So General Election


Vote with your business

Just a few short days until our next general election.  Everybody, well almost everybody, gets a vote.  Not everybody feels like they have a say.  Democracy gives us a chance to choose every 4 years but each and every day we are making choices that probably have a greater impact on our economy, our culture and our collective health than the ballot that we cast.  If I think about my day, I can choose to get up at 6am instead of 7:30am and have time for a swim or a trip to the gym before work.  Then I can pick between the kale and eggs in my fridge or the really amazing (and I mean really amazing) chocolate croissants that are just a quick stop on my way into the office.  Hmmmmm??????  Bike or drive, lunch box or restaurant… it goes on and on and, when I think about it, these are all economic decisions.  What products will I buy and what industries will I support?  Am I funding the problems or driving resources into areas where people are looking for solutions.  The thing is that we live in a economy that is shaped by a cultural and political system rather than a culture that is shaped by an economy.  I think that means that our real voting power lies in how we spend our time and our money.  How we allocate our resources.  The great American thing about that is it brings us back to the fact that we really do live in a democracy even while our politicians butt heads and behave like arses in Washington.  Vote with your business, vote with your wallet, vote with your feet and your facebook friends and your page fans and then tweet tweet tweet away and vote some more.

And while you are at it.  Vote for Ethix.  We “”sell” the difference we want to see in the word”:)

How The Ethix Community Partnership Can Work

Ethix is based in the Jack London District of Oakland.  As soon as we opened our offices we reached out to the local neighborhood association, The JLDA to see if we could support them in their fundraising for the application to be a Business Improvement District (BID).  This is a great example of how our Community Partnership Program works.  The JLDA has already spent time and effort building relationships with local merchants and working with them towards the goal of becoming a BID.  They have done a great job of building a community of committed residents and business owners who want to see the neighborhood improved.  We are developing a relationship with them and have added the Ethix Program to the ways in which they can raise money to support their area.  We have started reaching out to local merchants with the JLDA’s advocacy and support and requesting that those merchants designate the JLDA as the recipient of their 25% donations.  The association will benefit from a residual income stream to pay for programs that benefit the merchants.  The merchants benefit from lower fees and neighborhood improvement that does not cost their business any extra money and the residents benefit from a cleaner, safer and more vibrant local business community.  By converting fees that would traditionally disappear onto the balance sheet of large financial institutions into funds for community improvement and development we are strengthening the ties between businesses and the neighborhoods they are in.  I think that is pretty cool and I am excited to see this program used all over the country by neighborhood and merchant associations that want to save money and raise money using Ethix.

Why is Ethix a For-Profit Company?

This week we had the opportunity to talk about Ethix with a group of students from The San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking.  They were looking for innovative companies to use as the subject of 30 second ads that they are creating as part of their course work.  We are eagerly awaiting news on whether we got selected for the project but in the meantime they asked us some great questions that got me thinking about some of the principles that were foundational to Ethix and that inspired us to launch the company.  One of the questions was “Why is Ethix a for-profit company?”

Answer is Yes!

Ethix is a social enterprise.  Enterprise as in a productive endeavor in the private sector and social as in thinking beyond our bottom line in the way we do business.  I have a huge amount of respect for all the work that is done and the impact that is created in the non-profit sector but I had a different vision for the company I wanted to help build.  There are a lot of reasons for this but these are the highlights.

Philanthropy isn’t enough!  On a very basic level, the idea that we should support the health, well being and education of the majority of our citizens through government spending or donations is running out of rope.  If the fact that this model is broken is not enough to convince you, think about it like this.  Should our social, educational and community needs be reliant on “left over” money that drops out of the private economy in the form of charitable donations.  There is something wrong with that.   Companies all over the world are learning that they have a vested interesest in the health and education of their customers and employees.  It is part of their bottom line.  Doesn’t it make more sense to move towards a more integrated economy that promotes the creation of private wealth while contributing to the broader social economy on which it depends to thrive?

We have a point to make… Seriously!  The financial service industry is chock-a-block with revenue models that baffle consumers and charge huge sums in fees and murky charges with very little value or accountability.  Merchant services is one of the worst offenders here.  We want to prove that it is not simply possible, but profitable to repurpose these models and make them transparent, ethical and socially responsible.  Possible to the tune of 25% of our total revenues at Ethix and profitable to the tune of… Well.  We will find out and keep you in the loop but things are going great.

Business is Social.   We think that the distinction between business and social needs is false.  Businesses do better in thriving local communities.  We are in the business of reconnecting businesses with social needs in their local areas in a way that does not cost them a dime and actually saves them money.

Making Money… is great.  We think so and our sales people think so and the non-profits and community groups that benefit from our Ethix Program agree.