Intelligent Point of Sale: Making payments smarter

Founded by business partners Robin Knox and Paul Walton in 2012, Edinburgh-based Intelligent Point of Sale Limited supplies computerised cash register software and hardware to businesses across the globe. Robin Knox told BQ how they got into business.

The product they developed – intelligentpos® - is an iPad and cloud-based point of sale application which allows businesses to process transactions with portable and flexible hardware and software.

intelligentpos® allows business owners to remotely monitor their commercial activity, manage staffing levels and alter products and offers.

Robin told BQ: “After setting up my first business, Urban Paintball, we started to look for an EPOS system to help provide good sales reporting and to keep track of our stock. 

“Everything on the market was expensive to buy and then the ongoing monthly fees were, in my opinion, ridiculous.

“Through chatting to my friend Paul Walton (co founder of Intelligent Point of Sale), who had experience of building apps, we started to build intelligentpos®.

“Against all the cumbersome till systems that exist, intelligentpos puts a business critical electronic point of sale system into the hands of every bar owner and retailer, no matter how small or large. It’s also a lot cheaper than other systems on the market.”

He continued: “Once we decided to create our own EPOS system Paul and I worked on the product in the evenings.

“We were both working full time but any free time was spent on the intelligentpos® app. It was a tough time and to save money we even shared a flat. It took a lot of hard work to get it ready.

“At that point Paul and I applied for a PTYBS loan to help us take Intelligent Point of Sale to market and were very fortunate to be successful.”

Having already launched Urban Paintball, Robin had experience of running a business but the duo still required support for jumping into a completely new market.

Robin said: “Both the Prince’s Trust and my parents helped me with the initial capital costs of setting up my first business – Urban Paintball.

“IPOS was funded from this business’ profits and again by a start-up loan from the Princes Trust, who have been great supporters.

“Through applying for a PTYBS loan we also received the support of a mentor. I had built up such a great relationship with Julie Grieve (chief executive of Lateral City) during the start-up of my first business, that I requested her help for intelligentPOS too.

“It was Julie who finally encouraged us to take the jump from letting our clients use the app in beta, to charging and from there we have never looked back. 

“As you start up and grow a business there are lots of challenges to face - sales and marketing, staff, cash flow, suppliers, to name a few - and although I had learned a lot in Urban Paintball, having the support of a PTYBS mentor means you always have someone outside of your team to bounce ideas off, or ask advice. They don’t tell you what to do, and they are on your side.”

The duo had lots of discussions about how to grow the business faster and they talked through lots of different ways to raise capital. 

After chatting with their mentor Julie, she introduced them to Quest, a firm who helped them finalise their business plan and then introduced potential investors. 

“Through Quest we met 24 Haymarket and have now taken over half a million pounds of investment to allow us to achieve that plan.

“As we were going through the investment round, challenges came up which we’d never had to deal with before and once again a call to our mentor, or a face-to-face helped us through the thought process.

“Julie helped teach us that when someone is investing in your business it is really important that there is a strategic fit but also that there has to be a mutual respect whilst also feeling that they would help us achieve our plan rather than take over.”

One of their major setbacks was balancing their work load with their personal life and ensuring they still had room to breathe when initially starting up.

Robin said: “We had a really tight Christmas one year where I thought we were going to run out of money. Paul and I had to take a step back to really assess how we were going to move forward with the business. It taught us a big lesson, and we never want to repeat that experience.

“When we first started, Paul purchased a server unit with his last pay packet from his previous job. After some calculations we realised that our system would consume more data than we could afford– meaning we would be paying unsustainably high amounts in the early stages of our operation. That was a moment of real panic before we started making money.”

Despite this, the duo battled through and are now in a strong position to take the intelligentpos® product to market.

He told us: “Our next big target in terms of sales is to hit 1,000 sites in the UK. For our company, it is to hire a CMO now that we have brought in our head of tech support and found our COO.

“In a years’ time we will be the ‘go to’ epos software product for small businesses.”