Written by Scott Thompson
Jacyn Heavens is CEO of UK startup Epos Now, which develops, manufactures and supplies EPoS equipment and software. Over the past 12 months, the company has introduced a range of new features, including Click and Collect, the ability to email receipts and launching the UK’s first EPoS AppStore, making hundreds of integrations accessible to customers nationwide. It is shortlisted in the EPoS Innovation of the Year category at the 2015 Retail Systems Awards, set to take place in London next month
RS: How did you get into the technology sector?
JH: If you’d asked me 10 years ago what an EPoS system was I probably wouldn’t have known. I fell into the industry by accident. A few years ago I bought a bar and in getting everything setup I was shocked by how expensive EPoS systems were. Instantly I saw the potential, and realised that this was an industry ripe for a newcomer.
RS: Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
JH: My Grandad. He started with nothing, but made himself into an incredibly successful businessman. He turned himself into a successful hotel owner, and property developer, despite not having any formal education. From an early age it taught me to be a self-starter and gave me a drive to succeed.
RS: Who in the sector inspires you and why?
JH: I follow the career of Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon.com) with interest. It’s incredible how his vision was so simple, but how it’s grown into something that has permanently altered the retail experience. It makes me think ‘where could Epos Now be in 10 years?’. Epos Now actually uses Amazon’s EC2 technology as our backbone. Who would think that an online bookstore could become the most respected cloud computing technology provider?
RS: Which IT professional do you most admire?
JH: When you’re in the early days of a startup you might be the CEO but you’re also the sales exec, the support agent, the cleaner and maintenance man. The one thing I could never do was write software. We currently employ a team of 30 developers, and they are constantly having to innovate in areas that no one else has.
RS: Is there anything that you dislike or that frustrates you about the sector?
JH: I’m so proud that we’re a company that’s an innovator. Nothing pleases me more than when we are first to market with a great concept. Our industry is one where there are a lot of businesses that wait for you to do the hard work and prove the model, and then they clone it! But I’m sure you get that in every sort of business, and they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
RS: What technology can't you live without?
JH: My iPhone. I can’t imagine running a business 30 years ago, when you weren’t able to check in on how it was performing on the go, when you couldn’t check your emails in downtime. I like to stay organised, and take notes about everything from vague ideas to meetings. I’ve found that lack of communication and organisation is one of the biggest causes of delays in business.
RS: How do you relax?
JH: I find flying to be the most relaxing experience. With us making preparations for our US launch it means I’m racking up the air miles. The beauty of flying is that you are completely shut off from outside communication. You can’t check any KPIs, or send any emails. All you can do is sit back and relax. I find it the perfect time to think strategically about the business. I loathe the idea of onboard WiFi!
RS: What was your last retail experience both online and on the High Street and were they positive experiences?
JH: More and more online and High Street are merging into a joint experience. The only problem is that it’s often a dreadful one. Yesterday I went to buy some flooring from a DIY shop. I’d checked online which showed me they had 10 packs in stock, when I got there they had no packs. After much checking they decided they did have 10 packs, but it was at a different branch 20 miles way. So I drove there and it turns out half of them were the wrong colour. You can imagine the steam that was billowing out of my ears!