R. JO WEBBER, 49, is the founder and chief executive of Virtual Piggy, which recently launched its own online store. Its platform allows children under 18 to shop safely and securely online.
Webber, who has a doctorate in quantum physics and is a mother of two young children, is a serial entrepreneur who previously ran two Philly-based companies. She started Virtual Piggy here in 2008, and the small company later went public.
Virtual Piggy, which trades over the counter (VPIG) and has a market cap of $113 million, moved its headquarters to Hermosa Beach, Calif., in June.
Q: Why did you move the company headquarters to California?
A: We were looking for e-commerce developers, and I couldn't find the expertise we needed to integrate our e-commerce platform with those of the big retailers that cater to kids. It seems a lot of these companies have e-commerce hubs on the West Coast.
Q: You still have employees in Philadelphia?
A: Our controller, secretary and head of client services are here. A director, Martha McGeary Snider, lives here. She's also chairman of our advisory board and helped bring [Oprah's beau] Stedman Graham to our advisory board.
Q: How did you come up with the name Virtual Piggy?
A: It just came to me. I just realized how different it was for kids growing up today. They don't just get pocket money and go to the corner store. They want to go online, but they can't buy anything.
Q: Give me the Cliff's Notes for Virtual Piggy 101.
A: A family signs up with profiles for each child. Parents can add credit cards, approve spending limits or specific retailers and set a goal for charitable giving. When the kid goes to a parent-approved retailer, he or she can pay by clicking on our button at the checkout screen.
Q: How are you different from other players in the retail online payment and security business?
A: Nobody else is really focused on buyers under 18. So we've got a nice partnership with PayPal, and somebody with a PayPal account can easily use Virtual Piggy.
Q: How many online merchants have you signed up?
A: There are about 80 to 90 right now, and we're in the process of integrating them. We just signed up Claire's Stores - they're in all the malls, big, big brand with teen and tween girls and they do about $1.5 billion in annual revenues.
Q: What merchants have you signed up in this area?
A: It's K'NEX Brands really; they were our first customer. We'd love to get Urban Outfitters. Teens love their products, and Virtual Piggy could help them.
Q: How does Virtual Piggy get paid for its services?
A: We help the retailer make a transaction. Right now we get a fee of 1.5 percent per transaction.