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Idealog—in the ideas business

Innovators Awards: Supreme/IT winner, Vend

WINNER - SUPREME AWARD/ICT

Who Vend, founded by Vaughan Rowsell

What Cloud-based point-of-sale payment system

Why you should care One day swiping your card will be a thing of the past, and it’s another step toward the integrated digital wallet

Judges say A great idea and well executed. Spectacular growth so far!

Vend has proven itself somewhat of an overachiever in the burgeoning Kiwi SaaS (software as a service) space. Launched by Vaughan Rowsell in late 2010 as a one-man-band, the company now employs six people, boasts thousands of users in more than 80 countries and is growing fast, recently opening an office in San Francisco as part of its strategy to storm the US.

Rowsell says Vend is generating plenty of buzz in the US. On a recent visit he met with several high-flyers – although he can't say too much about that yet – including a meeting with renowned tech writer and evangelist Robert Scoble.

Vend, he says, is a "revolutionary cloud-based point-of-sale loved by bricks and mortar retailers all over the world".

The Vend POS runs in a browser on any device, be it a PC, Mac, iPad or Android tablet. It's targeted at small- to medium-sized businesses and integrates with other accounting, inventory and e-commerce platforms, enabling owners to run their entire retail business in the cloud. The app is updated frequently, so new features are quickly rolled out to users, and it's simple to add a new store branch, for example, by paying a little more.

"For a small monthly fee retailers now have the power of a full-strength retail system that would normally cost tens of thousands of dollars for less than $100 a month," says Rowsell.

He says Vend is the worldís first HTML5 online and offline POS, so while it is web-based, it will still work if your internet connection goes down. And it's proof that a frontline business product can be moved into the cloud.

"Vend shows how an idea and Kiwi innovation – with a bit of smart execution – can go global right here from New Zealand."

According to Rowsell, there hasn't been any innovation in the retail POS arena for more than 10 years – until now.

"For so long retailers have been punished by their software," he says. "The existing options for retailers were old, clunky, expensive and hard to use."

That was the impetus behind its We Love POS campaign. Retailers can share their tales of woe at welovepos.com and get a shot at winning a free month's trial. 

"Whenever we find new customers they're always sharing horror stories with us," he says. "So we thought it be fun to create a little portal."

Sam Morgan and Rowan Simpson, the founder and former development manager of TradeMe, were early investors. A million-dollar boost from German-based consortium Point Nine Capital a few months ago also enabled the company to scale up. 

"The retail space is a very hot space at the moment – everyone's trying to get into it," Rowsell says. And he believes Vend is poised to be at the centre of a global retail revolution.

"Integrating with mobile payments, universal loyalty programmes, retiring those VIP cards you carry around in your wallet – it can all just be virtual. These are all things retailers dream about, and now we have the building blocks to make it all happen really quickly."


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