My journey from software development to nightclubs to POS.
I am often asked about how ImPOS started, and how I ended up with a company of more than 50 employees in the POS and payments space. People also question how I ended up in this game, as it isn’t a very common sector for a 22-year-old to end up in.
After University I worked for a CAD/CAM software development company, which gave me amazing exposure to software and international business in general. I’d never been overseas prior to this role, but in the next two years I completed close to 20 international trips from South Africa to Barbados and many more places. It was hard but very rewarding.
Whilst on a business trip to India I was approached by a Singaporean company to open up their operations in Australia selling fasteners (screws). I had just turned 21 and had nothing to lose. My next-door neighbour at the time was a successful businessman and he convinced me to leave my job and take the opportunity. It was a partnership structure whereby I obtained equity in return for hard work, creating business plans, financial models, budgets and what ended up being a year of market research and product sampling. I had no income for the entire 12-month period, so I returned to my summer job at a water ski school where I had grown up. Unfortunately, due to patent infringements, the Singaporean company decided not to open operations in Australia. Nonetheless, I was very grateful for what I had learnt. The main thing I remember the CEO telling me was, “you only have two hands in life Sean, and in order to succeed you need others to help you.” It was an amazing experience and truly changed my life.
Fortunately, I had developed a strong relationship with the company in Singapore. As a gesture of goodwill they transferred me a sum of money as compensation for my efforts. I went on to invest this money into two nightclubs/bars in Melbourne’s CBD. It seemed a wise idea at the time, especially because it meant spending the next four weeks ‘researching’ venues in Europe. It was great exposure to the world of hospitality. I was naturally drawn to the business processes, marketing and technology side of things. It was 2004 and touch screen POS had only just hit the market.
We had a very slow POS system at one of the bars, so slow that it was costing us a lot of money in lost revenue. This was the catalyst for replacement. We contracted out a small IT firm that had just started development of a very basic POS. Following some discussions with the owner of the IT firm, I made the decision to get out of the nightclub business, luckily with the amount of money I had originally invested.
Read part two of my start-up story next week: Living lean and closing deals