Sean Donnelly

Payote profile: Co-Founder Sean Donnelly

Our payo brand is the culmination of decades spent licking plates clean across our food scene. Collectively, we’ve spent years getting to know the beautiful bars and eateries across our delicious country. Sure, it’s a big job, but somebody’s got to it.  One of those people is our Co-Founder and Country Manager, Sean Donnelly. He’s a key part of the team behind our delicious brand (you can meet another of them here) and he’s spent the better part of two years building an app that helps diners do more of what he loves – loading up their plate.We recently had the pleasure of indulging in a veritable question sandwich with this particular payote.

What was the inspiration behind creating payo?

We set out to build something that would have a positive effect on the industry we’ve been so close to for years. We saw what Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) has done for retail, and we felt that it could be a great lever for increasing the bottom line for hospitality merchants. From there, it’s been about how we can solve other hospo-specific problems that have been around for years and haven’t been solved yet.

Who was payo created for?

Payo was created for both the merchant and the consumer. We wanted to improve the dining out experience for the customers, be it upgrading their experience or removing the pain points around settling the bill, whilst at the same time helping restaurants make more money. 

Why do you think Australia’s food scene is so rich and vibrant?

Australia is a multicultural hub, and its diversity when it comes to dining is unmatched. There is literally something for everyone, whether you want to play it safe with your favourite cuisine or try something totally new that you’ve never had before. The traditional venues stay true to their flavours, and the more modern venues continue to experiment and push boundaries. The industry is filled with passionate people who live and breathe hospitality. 

Growing up in a small country town in Ireland, where the food offerings are very limited, I actually hadn’t tried many different cuisines before moving to Australia. But, moving here, my eyes were opened to new dining experiences, and going out to eat and feasting on new things is a big part of my life now. 

Why is supporting the hospo biz so important to you?

I’ve worked with hospitality venues for over six years now, in one capacity or another, and have become very close to the industry. I’m even a venue owner myself, so I understand the challenges first-hand. It’s no secret that there has been a lot of pain in the industry over the years, so I’m determined to find ways to genuinely improve the experience through technology. 

What can we as Aussie diners do to help local businesses get back on their feet?

The obvious one would be to go and visit as many venues as possible. But on a smaller level, it would be things like; being more patient in a venue where you can see they are short on staff, or leaving a positive review when you’ve had a good experience to help them with their online reputation and digital presence. Engage with their socials, vote for them when they’re nominated for awards etc. It all helps.

What secret ingredient makes payo the perfect dining partner?

The secret ingredient is removing limitations from the dining experience and taking away the awkward moments at the end when it comes to paying the bill. 

What’s your go-to venue on the app?

My local Italian restaurant – Barolos Ristorante Italiano. This is a modern take on Italian cuisine, and the chefs love to put their own unique stamp on the classics.  You’ll find me here with a group of friends, making our way through both the menu and the wine list.

What’s one venue you’re dying to visit?

Takishiya – they do a 16-course Omakase and the chef is pretty legendary in the Brisbane dining scene.

If you had to eat a cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?

It would have to be Japanese. Egg sando for breakfast, sushi or sashimi for lunch, and ramen for dinner. I could happily eat that every day. You’ve met Sean, but have your met our app? It’s every bit as sweet as it sounds. You can learn more about payo here. Alternatively, to get fresh updates, exclusive offers and venue announcements sent straight to your inbox or social feed, follow us on Instagram or subscribe to our newsletter.

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