“Focus on your goals and where you want to be.”, With Mitch Russo & Jacyn Heavens

Understand your market distinction. It’s vital to understand why your customer wants your product and what problem it solves. Once you’ve gathered this information, you can cater your market services accordingly. Jacyn is the sole founder and CEO of Epos Now. In 2011, Jacyn was a bar owner, frustrated by the lack of quality EPOS solutions available […]

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Understand your market distinction. It’s vital to understand why your customer wants your product and what problem it solves. Once you’ve gathered this information, you can cater your market services accordingly.

Jacyn is the sole founder and CEO of Epos Now. In 2011, Jacyn was a bar owner, frustrated by the lack of quality EPOS solutions available to small business owners like him, he created his own and founded Epos Now with a commitment to delivering the same innovations big business has been profiting off for years to the SME community. Epos Now has now grown to over 200 Employees with 30,000 customers and over £30m in revenue, with no external investment and is now East Anglia’s largest and fastest growing tech scale up, as well as frequent recognition in the Tech Track 100 Fastest Growing companies.

The high street is under extreme pressure from online technology businesses and Epos Now’s mission is to give bricks and mortar businesses the technology they need to compete with giants. The mantra being that business owners, no matter how small, should have the opportunity to leverage tech to improve the profitability in the same way as their corporate competitors, equipping small businesses with the tools they need to succeed. In pursuit of this mission, self-made entrepreneur Jacyn has won multiple awards such as IOD Director of the Year, Cloud Entrepreneur of the Year, Great British Retail Entrepreneur of the Year and honoured with a doctorate from the University of East Anglia. Jacyn is currently focused on international expansion, in the UK and US, creating over 200 new jobs by 2021, as well as his other businesses ventures and helping future leaders scale up, as the entrepreneur in residence at the University of East Anglia.

Thank you so much for joining us Jacyn! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Istarted working in sales while living in London, but professionally it did not suit me, so I founded my own business operating a bar and restaurant back in my hometown of Norwich. In my time as a business owner, I found a gap in the market for point-of-sale. Every POS system required an abundant amount of professional services — something I felt was more of a nuisance than a help, plus it was incredibly costly. When I decided to move forward with Epos Now, I wanted to create a system that did not require such services and would be easy to navigate and use. I truly felt I had found a solution for a massive flaw in the market.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

The “Aha Moment” for me was realizing that a point of sale system was going to cost just as much to install and operate than it would to start and run my business. Plus, none of the models at the time seemed to fit the growing needs of my restaurant and bar. It occurred to me that there were likely other business owners facing similar problems, desiring a reasonable solution to better run their establishment. I felt there was an untapped market I could hit by providing an affordable, transparent technology. I developed a service to fix my own problem and in doing so, I realized I wasn’t alone.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Yes, when I initially started Epos Now, I was outsourcing the hardware from other companies and putting the pieces together myself. However, many of the software companies did not believe in my vision to provide business owners with an affordable point of sale system without professional services, so I realized in order to move forward, I would have to develop the software myself. This was a challenge as I had zero technological experience. I worked hard to hire a team of expert consultants who would help with the creation of Epos Now. Though it was expensive and time consuming, I truly believed in my company and what it could potentially do for businesses in a variety of industries.

So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Things are going great. With over 32,000 customers worldwide, Epos Now is a massive success. We became one of the first point of sale companies to create a cloud-based software because we didn’t give up when times seemed tough. In starting a business, you are bound to face many obstacles; some are manageable while others are much harder to navigate through. The key to success is to keep going no matter what and you’ll come to find yourself out on the other side.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

It wasn’t funny at the time, but during my first ever business trip in Asia, I got into an unmarked cab (despite my better judgement). The car got carjacked and I was kidnapped in the process. The carjackers took me to a remote area in the woods and interrogated me about how much money I had. I gave them what was in my pocket and thankfully, it was sufficient enough for them to let me go.

The funny part of the story is that they drove me to my hotel, graciously helped me with my luggage and even tried to shake my hand as they dropped me off! I couldn’t believe it!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

There are a few things about Epos Now that makes us quite unique. I started the business in Norwich, a very remote town in the U.K., without having any experience in technology. The fact that we were named one of the U.K.’s fastest growing tech companies was incredible considering my background. We’ve also never taken on any investment, so we’re organically funded.

We’re the largest tech company within a hundred-mile radius, in our time we increased employment from zero to 300, and we created the first ever cloud-based app stores for a POS system. We’ve been doing quite well!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

If you want it enough and enjoy what you’re doing, focus on your goals and where you want to be. The key is to love what you’re doing.

Don’t give away too much equity too early on. Build value first and the rest will happen organically. Also, be prepared to work harder than anyone else. As the owner, you need to set the precedence — first one in the office and last one to leave. If your staff sees your dedication, they’ll follow your lead.

As for avoiding the dreaded “burn out”, make it a point to manage your time. You don’t always need to work 70-hour weeks. If you are struggling on a particular project or stuck on an idea, go for a walk or take some time to see a movie. I have found that as long as I listen to my body and give it the time it needs; I’ll often stay refreshed.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Not particularly one person, but my family and friends were all very supportive.

I do advise getting a mentor though to help you work through some of the difficulties you’ll face starting a business, just be mindful of whose advice you seek. As a mentor at a local university, I would advise starting there. Schools often offer a variety of programs catered to help entrepreneur’s grow their brand. It’s also important to obtain a variety of opinions from other experts and to join any groups that are relevant to your business and professional philosophies. Make sure anyone who works with you has your best interests at heart.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?

Epos Now currently has approximately 32,000 customers worldwide. Three significant steps taken to build a large community are:

Understand your market distinction. It’s vital to understand why your customer wants your product and what problem it solves. Once you’ve gathered this information, you can cater your market services accordingly.

Build a solid sales model where you can acquire customers on a repeatable basis. Some examples of this would be via inside sales, business development, etc.

Understand your unit economics. To build a successful business, you need to calculate how much it costs to get a new customer, what their lifetime value is, and how large your market is.

What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?

We monetize our customers by letting them share the platform in the cloud and providing them the ability to pay a monthly subscription, instead of a one-time payment. In the long run, they spend less for their point-of-sale system and do not need to worry about upfront high costs.

In the past, we required customers to pay up front, but since most are starting their business, paying for an expensive POS system isn’t financially realistic. Our customers appreciate that we help them budget and manage their money, especially through the stress of first starting out.

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