Interview with Paul Amorese

Divine Magazine
Divine Magazine 12 Min Read

Paul Amorese is an American drummer and percussionist from Rochester, New York. He has performed and toured with a variety of musical groups, including Bacci, the WMDs, The Commuters, Jack Dishel and Only Son, Visible from Space, Bryan Scary, Hypnotic Clambake, Boutros Boutros, and goodbyemotel. He also started a company called Buddi Systems.

Tell us a bit about your company and why you do what you do.

Buddisystems is a platform that helps businesses hire, pay and report taxes for their freelancers so they can spend more time on projects and less time dealing with the complexities of hiring and paying gig-workers.

I have been a professional musician for the past 30 years and a professional commercial film producer for the past 10 years and one of the most painful things I experienced was tracking down and hiring talent. Everything from getting their availability to the back and forth on different messaging platforms to finally hiring them and then paying them which, nowadays, is more of a hassle because there are so many different options, all of which are expensive.

In my opinion, the worst part of the process is chasing W9’s from people. It’s rare you can have someone give you all of their info upfront. It’s usually you needing to track them down at tax time and then being up against trying to get the tax info organized to send to an accountant. It can be very challenging. When you think of the process as a whole, it’s very costly and time-consuming.

We really wanted to make something that gave back time to people that were hiring so they could concentrate on the more creative aspects of their job.

How did the idea for your business come about?

I was working in commercial film production and hiring these rather large crews and at the time we were paying them mostly as 1099 contractors and some payroll. It was a really long and painful process and for my own sanity, I became passionate about finding a better way.

I originally imagined a way to start a job and then all of the information I wrote down for a job carried through to every process. The 2 x big payoffs for me as we were designing the platform were to have the ability to automate the hiring process with your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice people and to pay an entire group of people all at one time without needing to input every person.

When our team built Buddisystems, we started testing these assumptions in the production world and soon realized that musicians share a lot of the same pains so we started tweaking things to help both musicians and video producers.

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

If I were to explain being an entrepreneur metaphorically, consider if you lived in Maine and were deciding to take your dream job offer in Los Angeles but your only option to get there was to hike across the country. You started with everything you needed, food, water, supplies, clothes… Along the way, things start off great but slowly they start going in a way that you didn’t plan. It starts with severe weather conditions, then you get lost, and maybe you had your supplies stolen from you while you were using a public bathroom; now you are forced to ask to stay at strangers homes to save on money but mostly were denied. As you go along, you start to run out of money shortly through the trip and are needing to live off of the resources you could find, perhaps even needing to wash dishes for food at some local restaurants. You need to rely on trusting others to help, some are good people, some end up cheating you out of things. At any moment, you know you could turn around and go back to safety. All while this is happening you developed a serious sickness and had no health insurance or no way to really get yourself help except to go into major debt. Not to mention, you have only a matter of a few weeks to get to LA before this job gets offered to someone else. The pressure is high to make this trip happen as quickly as possible so you start hitchhiking, begging for bus fare and finding other creative ways to cut down the time.

All while you are going through these insanely uncomfortable and sometimes unimaginable moments, you decide to remain positive and focus on the bright side. The silver lining is, you witnessed the most beautiful scenery you have ever seen, met some of the most amazing people you would never have met normally and ultimately experienced things out of life that would be more positively impactful than you could ever imagine.

After this adventure, you arrive at that job in LA and because you endured it all, you use your new skills to grow in your new position and ultimately have the most fruitful career that at one time seemed unimaginable.  Had you stayed in Maine, you would have had the normal, boring life you were raised to have. Still happy, but not as happy as you would have been had you endured that journey to get to the dream job.

Creating and innovating are huge for me as far as being an entrepreneur goes. The idea of Buddisystems was something that I initially thought would be impossible to achieve but with a lot of persistence and a desire to make something that could help a lot of folks like myself, I naturally fell into this entrepreneurial role.

I have learned so much about stepping out of my comfort zone, combating fear and trusting my instincts. It’s truly an adventure and if I had to sum it all up, the biggest driving factor is giving back to people through my own personal growth. The more I grow and learn, the more I can help others by sharing my experiences and equally, the more experiences I have, I am better equipped to take on bigger challenges.

It’s also really fun!  Developing a tool, marketing it and finding that other people find it extremely helpful is a truly incredible feeling that isn’t easily replicable outside of being an entrepreneur. Not to mention the grit you develop after being dealt so many challenges and finding a way to rise above them. The reward is so much deeper when you achieve even the smallest of goals.

How did you come up with the name for your company?

We used to be called Benji. Because we were a fintech platform, we thought more about the pain we were solving which was a financial problem. An early designer on our team helped us with the name and he reminded us, “It’s all about the Benjamins” for people who work so why not make it fun and more personable and call it Benji? 

We loved the name and were going after it, but after about a year, there was a company in the same field as us that was much larger than us and they were able to legally secure the name for one of their financial products so we were sadly forced to change it. 

We went through several rounds of ideas and none of them felt right. We wanted to keep that same levity that Benji had; that’s when we iterated ourselves into putting Buddy as the front runner. The spelling couldn’t work so we changed it to Buddi and then we realized there is another company in tech called Buddi so we decided to add another word and after a bunch more iterations, we came up with Buddisystems. It was such a powerful moment for us because the definition of the Buddi System is: a  cooperative arrangement whereby individuals are paired or teamed up and assume responsibility for one another’s instruction, productivity, welfare, or safety. We thought that perfectly embodied what we wanted to provide for companies and freelancers so we went for it.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

The day we ran our first successful job. We were doing a job for a company that was working on a pretty big campaign and when we were able to successfully transfer thousands of dollars to people instantly, we were really excited at the prospect of what this platform was setting out to do.

Do you sing in the shower? What songs?

Only when I am playing drums for a gig and I need to either sing backups or learn the lead for a song.

If you were to write an autobiography, what would the title be?

“Life without the degree”

If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

Funny enough, Looks-Wise I often get compared to 2 celebrities… Ben Stiller and James Franco… I think having either of those dudes play me would be so fun.

What would be the ideal food to have cooked for you on a date night?

I love incredible seafood dishes because I don’t make them very often…

What would be a good theme song for your life?

I am a huge Rocky movie fan so, Gonna Fly Now is probably the best one for me.

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