Scotland has a rich history of innovation and entrepreneurship, boasting world-renowned academic institutions, vibrant industries and, in 2019, a burgeoning digital technology sector.
The people operating within Scotland’s digital technology sector have been key to its success thus far, and will continue to drive it onward; dynamic, ambitious entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, encompassing numerous nationalities, are innovating throughout the nation and across many different areas.
In this edition of DIGIT’s Startup Q&A series, we caught up with Bhas Kalangi, Founder of ePOS Hybrid. The Edinburgh-based firm says it plans to take the food and drinks industry by storm with its Android-based point of sale (POS) app to automate hospitality operations.
The app, developed by ePOS, allows business owners to create promotional offers and update menus; which Kalangi believes will help streamline day-to-day activities for staff.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Bhas
I am a computer science graduate and have worked in IT consulting for 14 years. I work with small and medium-sized enterprises to provide advice on bespoke software applications, web applications, CRM Tools and Internal business software tools. I also have 15-years worth of experience in business management.
Can you describe your startup and how it can help people and/or businesses?
We have developed the most innovative EPOS system for the hospitality and food industry. Traditional ePOS systems only help to make orders and create bills, whereas our system does everything you need to efficiently run your business. With the current trends and technologies such as online and mobile ordering, ePOS Hybrid allows you to keep up-to-date and provide a better dining and ordering experience which can help improve customer satisfaction.
What inspired you to create ePOS Hybrid?
In 2012 my cousin, who is also my best friend, opened a sports pub in Wales. With it being a new company, a lot of family and friends helped him out in the beginning by working with him. When it was bust, I would help out by cleaning tables, pouring pints, picking up glasses; all the things you do when working in a pub.
However, he picked up an old ePOS system and was having to keep information on all different types of software, such as Excel. It wasn’t up to standard and make it difficult to store the information needed to run a business. I thought to myself, I could create something that was easier to use and kept all that information together.
In 2016, I decided to start developing this idea and to start the company.
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How has the company developed over time, and what have the biggest challenges been so far?
It has developed quite significantly, I’m happy to say. We launched the development of ePOS Hybrid in May 2016, and this took around two and a half years to finalise. It was a massive application with lots of different aspects to consider. The product launch happened in January 2019 and we hired our first team members and still continue to hire more people, which is a great start for the company.
Since launching in January, we have 10 happy customers around the country, one in Australia and another in India – showing that our system is suitable for any market.
In the beginning, though, everything was a challenge. However, R&D challenged us every day. Because it’s a cloud-based application with many features and different devices doing separate things, it was difficult to try and get them all connected by making sure all information was in the same place with data being on time.
Because the software is cloud-based, we had to find a way in which the system would still work if there was no internet access. We managed to overcome this by using ‘NASERVER’, which is local server technology. This means that if the business’ WiFi has gone down, or has been down for a week, our ePOS system will still work to its full potential.
What have been the biggest challenges for you on a personal level so far?
I would say this definitely has to be the funding. It was an idea that I believed in and I had to invest everything myself, and all my savings were used because I really believed this idea has a great future. Yes, I could have gone to investors, however, it is hard to exercise only an idea to someone. At least when you have a business it is easier for investors to see and understand your idea fully to decide if they want to invest or not.
How have you found the startup scene in Scotland?
It’s absolutely amazing! Edinburgh is a cosmopolitan city with a lot of talent available. It’s a budding city with lots of support information and I couldn’t be happier to be expanding in Scotland.
Are there any tech startups you really admire in Scotland?
I have a lot of admiration for Skyscanner. They have addressed the problems that people had and created a great solution. They provided a great interface, made it extremely easy for people to use and they show great leadership. Their social media also provides a positive impression and they use the platform creatively.
Looking ahead, what are your ambitions personally and for the firm?
We are crowdfunding in June 2019 and want to continue to expand our team here in Scotland and build a great company with talented employees.
The plan by 2020 is to hopefully expand to America and India, as I believe there is a great opportunity and there is space in the market for us to make a big impact. By 2023, we hope to be a listed company in alternative markets and have customers around the world.