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Founder Feature: PayRios Aubrey Amatelli

Amanda Ferron

HONORING WOMEN, ONE WOMAN AT A TIME.

All year long, I love honoring amazing women.

I plan on using this platform as often as I can to highlight Female Founded companies/brands in the Cannabis Industry. And what better month to start this trend, than during Womens History Month?!

The Cannabis Industry loves to talk about supporting women. Uplifting women and femininity in general. Many equate it to honoring the female Cannabis plant, which gives us the flowers that we all love so much. But statistically, we still have a long way to go… At least when it comes to having women in positions of power within the industry. A report released by MJBiz Daily in 2021 stated that only 22% of executive positions in the Cannabis industry are held by women. That number was down from 36% in 2019.

This gives me a little extra incentive to honor the bad-ass women in the Cannabis industry who have worked so hard to get to where they are now, and remain working in Cannabis. A task that is no easy feat, trust me. Whether you are a man or a woman. Only the strong survive here.

With that being said, let’s start with For:20 Minutes’ very first Founder Feature: PayRio’s very own, Aubrey Amatelli.

I sat down with Aubrey via Zoom for 20 minutes (Literally, the interview lasted for 20 minutes. See what I did there??) while we smoked a joint, and she answered a few of my questions.


MEET AUBREY

Aubrey Amatelli is a single Mother to 3 amazing kids, and was raised in San Jose, CA. She lived in the same house her whole life, until she was old enough to go to college. Wanting to experience something new, she worked hard at playing soccer, and earned a full scholarship to Seton Hall in New Jersey.

She actually comes from a long line of soccer players, and has 3 relatives who have played in the Olympics: Her Great-Grandfather, her Grandfather (who is also in the US Soccer Hall of Fame), and her Uncle. Aubrey herself made it all the way to Division 1 while she played at Seton Hall.

While speaking about her college experience on the other side of the country, she said:

“When people ask me ‘What college should I go to?’ I always suggest picking one that is far from home, because it gets you out of your comfort zone. Yes, it’s harder because you are so far away from family, but you grow and learn so much… There is something about throwing yourself into a situation where you don’t know anyone, everything is different, and you have to learn to adapt.”

After a few years in New Jersey, she packed up and moved back to California. While working towards her MBA, she volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in San Jose. Twice a week, for a year. So if you need some help building a house, Aubrey is a good friend to have! She ended up going to Oahu’s Chaminade University of Honolulu to receive her MBA.

When she finished earning her MBA, she started working for a Tech start-up that was part of the daily deal craze. You know… Groupon, Living Social… that kind of thing. The company she worked for grew rapidly, and ended up being bought out by JP Morgan. This began her work in and love for the payments sector, and would eventually lead to her starting her own Boutique Payment Processing company, PayRio, Inc.


AUBREYS RELATIONSHIP WITH CANNABIS

As we sparked up our joints, I dove into her personal relationship with the Cannabis plant. I asked how old she was when she first consumed the plant, and if she uses it more recreationally or medicinally.

“I had my first experience with Cannabis as a teenager, I was maybe 16… but it was like brown, brick weed. I didn’t really get heavy into smoking at that point. I was very, very focused on soccer and earning a full-ride scholarship, so that was basically all I did. I tried to stay out of trouble. NOT saying that Weed is trouble, but it was really seen as more of a bad “drug” when I was that age. So I used it occasionally, but not regularly. I really didn’t discover my love of Cannabis until I was older, and going through a divorce. It was also the beginning of COVID… I used Cannabis as a way to help me deal with my anxiety once I put my kids to bed. After that, I became a more frequent consumer.

I’m much more of a natural medicine person. I gave birth to all three of my kids fully naturally with no pharmaceutical medications… But I did try some anti-anxiety meds after my divorce, and they just didn’t work for me. Once I found cannabis, I used it to fully replace any other anxiety treatment I had tried previously.

The real drugs out there are Alcohol and all the pharmaceutical meds. I also stopped drinking recently, and within a month, I was like ‘I don’t really feel anxious anymore…’”


CANNABIS PAYMENTS

I had to ask: What on Earth prompted you to get into Cannabis Payments? Obviously, background in payment processing… That makes sense. But CANNABIS? Those of us who have worked in the industry for a while can tell you, anything to do with Cannabis banking gets complicated. To be blunt, it’s a bit of a cluster-f***…

I mean, now that I know she went through childbirth 3 times with NO MEDICATION, it makes a little more sense to me…

But seriously, anything banking related is a hectic part of the Cannabis Industry to work in.

So why Cannabis?

“Well, clearly, I like a challenge…”  She Said. “But before I launched PayRio, I worked at a FinTech, and that was where I kind of, discovered my power. Like, I had all this knowledge about payments that I had gained through working at JP Morgan for over a decade, I knew I could go anywhere, really… Continue my work in payments, make an impact… But I really wanted to be my own boss.

So I launched PayRio, wanting to focus on my passions, which are Health & Wellness. The industries within Health & Wellness that are currently being overcharged and really need some help, because they are so high-risk, are CBD, Cannabis, and the ancillary services/products related to the Cannabis industry. I want to help normalize payments in the Cannabis space, so that’s what I’m doing with PayRio!”,


Aubrey Amatelli and Chase Nightingale at PayRio

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE?

Though she only launched PayRio about a year ago, Aubrey is already making a splash in the industry! She’s getting her name out there, attending events, and was even recently featured in a Cannabis Now article, highlighting women in Cannabis Tech.

I was curious to find out what her favorite part of her PayRio experience has been so far.

Simply put, she answered: “The People.”

“The people that I have met… Everyone has been so welcoming. I’ve met people from all walks of life through Cannabis, including people who’ve served prison sentences just for growing a few plants… Everyone is fighting a battle, every single day, for equality. The people in this community are just amazing and so resilient… There’s just so many improvements to be made in the industry, and I love being a part of it.”

What about Cannabis itself? What is your favorite way to consume?

“My favorite way is probably a bong… But I am getting more into edibles, I really like gummies… Tinctures are also something I am getting more into as well. I recently picked up some Dreamt Sleep Tincture from Grass Roots SF, and it helped so much. I don’t even really remember falling asleep, and I slept so deeply… It was wonderful.”

Last, but not least, something I like to regularly ask my fellow Canna-people: If you could choose 3 famous stoners to share a joint with, who would it be?

“Bob Marley is for sure my first pick. I just love his music, and I have a much deeper appreciation for him as a person after reading the For:20 Minutes piece you wrote about him. I loved learning more about him… Snoop Dogg of course, no explanation needed. I mean, it’s Snoop Dogg… And then I would have to say, Willie Nelson.”

I noted how musical her smoke sesh would be!

“I like music, even though I am not super musical myself. I think I have like, a medium voice. I can at least carry a tune… But yea, all of mine are singers who are known for being really out in the open with their Cannabis use. I would just love to sit and listen to their stories and their music all at once.”

IF YOU NEED HELP, REACH OUT TO AUBREY!

If you run a Cannabis business, and you have questions about processing payments, then look no further than Aubrey Amatelli and her awesome team at PayRio, Inc.! They can help your business move away from the dangers of being “cash-based” by enabling you to compliantly accept both Debit AND Credit cards. Even high-end rewards cards!

PayRio offers a boutique payment processing experience, which basically means Aubrey and her team find the right payment processing fit for your business. PayRio does all the work for you! Aubrey has taken a lot of care in partnering with the best processors in the business, with proven track records in the Cannabis space. Her team will guide you every step of the way. Even after you are all set up and running! You can always reach out to the folks at PayRio.

Don’t think you can sign up, because your business isn’t currently working with a bank? No worries there either! Aubrey and her team have built strong connections with multiple Cannabis-Friendly banks, and they are always happy to help you find your perfect banking fit as well.

The best part about PayRio, Inc. is how simple and smooth the process is for your customer. No scanning IDs, no rounding up… It’s as easy as checking out at your local grocery store. Simply insert your chip card, select your tip amount, sign, and DONE!

Multiple Dispensaries who’ve signed up with PayRio saw a ~30% increase in sales within the first few months! That is a pretty big deal, if you ask me!

Aubrey set out founding PayRio, Inc. with a mission to simplify and normalize payment processing in the Cannabis space… And if you ask me, she is going to accomplish great things!

Keep an eye on her, and on PayRio, Inc.!

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