Q&A with Jacyn Heavens, Founder & CEO, Epos NowLast Updated: May 1, 2020
With his business Epos Now, Jacyn Heavens has made a huge impact on point-of-sale systems for 30,000 businesses in a short few years. Here, he chats with AGENT about his startup career. “I’d tell my younger self, ‘Get stuck in! It will be the hardest and best thing you ever do!’.”
As the owner, founder and CEO of Epos Now, Jacyn Heavens has made an enormous game-changing impact on cloud-based point-of-sale systems for businesses globally in just a few short years since the company’s 2011 launch.
“POS should be affordable, make your life easier, your customers happier and be accessible from anywhere.”
Jacyn Heavens’s business life properly began when he took over a bar in Norwich in January 2011, and reveals that Epos Now has its genesis in his frustration, as a business owner in the hospitality sector, at the limitations of POS systems that were “ludicrously expensive” and yet limited to accepting transactions, printing receipts and creating poor reports.
So at the same time, he was also researching and developing a more affordable and reliable software for retail and hospitality businesses, and had the idea to harness this to the rising demand for mobile apps. Epos Now was on the way, as Jacyn Heavens began to assemble a team to create customisable software that harnessed the power of cloud computing.
By October 2014, Epos Now had moved to a new headquarters of 5,000 square feet, his team grew steadily, and along the way there have been such developments as the Epos Now AppStore that enables businesses to customise a POS system that suits their operations, as well as giving access to literally hundreds of business apps.
Still just shy of his 35th birthday, Jacyn Heavens now sits at the head of a firm of 150 people, with more than 30,000 customers. The winner of the 2016 Great British Retail Entrepreneur award, Jacyn Heavens is also an industry commentator.
However, he remains passionately committed to the SME sector and to the mission principles of Epos Now: “POS should be affordable, make your life easier, your customers happier and be accessible from anywhere.”
12 Questions for Jacyn Heavens, Founder & CEO, Epos Now
Jacyn Heavens spoke to AGENT about his career to date, recalling his earliest experiences in business, his inspirations and role models, life at the head of his successful firm, and also shared some of the key lessons he has learned as a startup, for the benefit of young entrepreneurs starting out in business today.
1. Briefly tell us about your business and your business goals.
Epos Now creates innovative point-of-sale systems, predominantly serving SME retail and hospitality businesses. We created the UK’s first POS AppStore. This now means small and independent businesses can build their own bespoke POS system, benefiting from integrated accounting, marketing, inventory and customer loyalty modules, in the same way as their corporate competition.
My primary business goal is to empower these independents to take charge of their own data so they can thrive and grow. I want Epos Now to become the name synonymous with EPOS excellence the world over!
2. What age were you when you realised you wanted to run your own business?
Running my own business was always on the agenda ever since I was really young. I’ve always had a problem with authority so it’s worked out for the best!
3. Who are your business icons and inspirations?
I think anyone willing to risk it all for the chance at victory has got to be admired. If you look at any of the leading entrepreneurs, from your Elon Musks to your Richard Bransons, they’ve been so close to losing it on a number of occasions, but they kept on pushing and that’s why they’ve made history.
4. What has been your biggest challenge in business, and how did you surmount it?
The initial Epos Now startup period was one of the most nerve-wracking and exhilarating experiences of my life. Having shut the bar and dedicated all my money to Epos Now, I set about creating an affordable and insightful POS system. I knew this would challenge the corporate EPOS providers of the time, as they were actively neglecting a huge portion of the market.
Being personally liable and risking everything for an uncertain future was scary, but it only added to my conviction that I’d do everything possible to succeed. I knew I had a great idea, so I committed 100% and never looked back!
5. What gives you the most satisfaction in business?
I love seeing my immediate team grow and develop into these amazing business leaders. My first employee joined me on minimum wage and a promise. Now, six years later, Dave has helped establish the US arm of our operation, permanently relocated to Orlando and heads a team of 40 talented individuals!
6. Work-Life balance: is it possible? How do you achieve it?
In all honesty, I think if you own 100% of a rapidly scaling company, work-life balance just isn’t achievable. If you have total responsibility of that many people’s livelihoods, it’s impossible not to be consumed by the success or failure of your actions.
I make time for the gym and I’m always up for a celebratory drink when we smash our targets, but business is never far from my mind.
7. What is the first thing you do every day?
Check emails and get prepared for the day ahead. As CEO, every week is different. I could be at our Norwich HQ, in meetings in London or flying across to the US office. Email is the only viable way to stay in touch with the whole team.
8. What screen saver picture is currently on your phone?
The iPhone default setting. I’m not sentimental about my phone!
9. What is the most important app on your mobile phone, and why?
Google Drive. As a cloud-based company, it makes perfect sense to embrace all the benefits of the cloud. Wherever I am in the world, as long as I have the internet, I can share and receive documents company-wide.
10. What is the last thing you Googled?
Interest rate increases,
11. What item do you never leave the house without, and why?
I always have my gym gear in the back of the car. The gym is my escape! Exercise is definitely the best way to de-stress!
12. What advice would you give to your younger self starting out in business?
I’d tell my younger self: ‘Get stuck in! It will be the hardest and best thing you ever do.” It’s also important to prove the market, though, and get a feel for the demand before you invest too heavily.