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Vend partners with PayPal, scores $2m from Berlin

I have to admit Keallhauled initially covered Vend because its founder lived in the neighbourhood, and had amusing facial hair.

Now, like its CEO's moustache, it's starting to look like The Next Big Thing.

Back in 2010, the software company was essentially CEO Vaughan Rowsell plus a side-kick and one show-pony customer.

The pair wanted to do for point-of-sale software what Xero has done for accounting: take it to the internet.

A couple of years later, they're very much on the way.

Initial investors Sam Morgan and Rowan Simpson (like Rowsell, Trade Me alumni) have been joined by Berlin angel investor Point Nine Capital.

Overnight, Vend said Point Nine led a fresh funding round that added $2 million to the company's coffers (increasing Point Nine's stake to around 16% in the process).

PayPal hook-up
The second big piece of news is a tie up with PayPal that will let customers check into a store using Vend's software, then make purchases via they're cellphone (see Vend's blog for more details).

PayPal claims 100 million users worldwide (and you've no doubt seen the recent SpaceX adventures of its co-founder, Elon Musk).

The PayPal-Vend service will be initially launched in US, Canada, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong, Rowsell told NBR ONLINE.

"But we're happy to work with any retailer anywhere in the world that will take mobile payments."

And how are things going? Growing faster than its founder's mo, it seems.

"We now have over 11,000 accounts in 90 countries and still growing like crazy. Our revenues are not public, but we are doing 1 million transactions a month."

Staff has grown from two to 20.

Vend now also has an outpost at the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco (an office space for start-ups founded by Morgan, and subsidised by our government), which is helping it break into the US market.

One the technology side, core development is still geared around HTML5 - allowing Vend's software to work on almost any computer or tablet. While Apple's AppStore and Google Play offer convenient and efficient distribution channels, taking a multi-platform browser-based approach speeds development, and puts Vend more in control (and lets it keep more revenue). 

That said, Rowsell adds, "There will be some native magic later for add-ons."

Is Vend making a profit?

"We've been there," says Rowsell. "but growth is our focus. We are growing 10-20% month on month. We want to focus on the global opportunity and need to back this with a solid team."

Vend co-founder and CEO Vaughan Rowsell.

Sam Morgan backs point-of-sale start-up

Aug 24, 2010: Vend’s Vaughan Rowsell wants to do for point-of-sale software what Xero has done for accounting: take it to the internet.

Mr Rowsell’s two-man company, based in Auckland, has developed web browser-based software, called Vend, that will work with a touch-screen register, keyboard and mouse set-up, or iPad.

The second member of the team is Brad Robinson who heads up sales; Mr Rowsell is a self-styled “business man and technologist” who has worked with Sky TV and TelstraClear, among others.

NOT YOUR FATHER’S CASH REGISTER: Vaughan Rowsell’s Vend internet-based point-of-software will run on any device with a web browser, including an Apple iPad. (Click image for larger view.)

Recently, the entrepreneur (pictured) had a stint with TradeMe, helping to build TravelBug.co.nz.

“After that, while doing consultancy for retailers around online integration of their systems, I realised how badly retail point-of-sale needed to move out of the dark ages,” Mr Rowsell told NBR.

He decided to create a solution that “took it to the cloud” - IT-speak for a service whose software and files are hosted on the internet, accessible via any device with a web browser.

A panel of industry veterans and ring-ins helps out with product development and general development; a setup Mr Rowsell said was modelled on Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup.

VendHQ’s “Vend” software processes sales, and can be used to add or delete products, manage inventory, or track sales to individual customers.

Mr Rowsell compares his product’s web interface to internet banking.

(Click image for larger view.)

VendHQ has two outside investors, both of whom hold a 15% stake: Sam Morgan and Rowan Simpson, whose Flathunt.co.nz was bought by TradeMe in 2000 (it later morphed into TradeMe Property).

The product was released commercially three weeks ago following a two-month trial. Sales were clocking over at the rate of about one a day.

“We’ve been getting uber strong interest since then from retailers wanting to ditch their outdated systems to move to something ‘in the cloud,’ Mr Rowsell told NBR.

Fashion retailer Gregory/Ricochet is currently installing Vend in 12 stores nationwide,opting to use it on iPads instead of traditional point-of-sale hardware.

“With Vend, we can retire a mountain of old equipment that was costing us thousands of dollars to maintain,” Karen Mansfield, Gregory’s financial controller said.

For those who want to maintain their old-school gear, Vend integrates with most of the equipment stores use with existing point-of-sale system, including barcode scanners, cash drawers and receipt printers.

Overseas expansion
Mr Rowsell is also targeting overseas sales, via his company’s website, VendHQ.com.

That’s a tall order for a two-man outfit, but Vend’s multicurrency support, plus its integration with Xero, now active in NZ, Australia and the UK (and 5% owned by Mr Morgan) will help (through its Xero hook up, Vend can automatically enter sales totals and on-account invoices into a retailer’s accounting system).

So will Vend’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) or run-over-the-internet model, which has helped Xero and others achieve “weightless” export success.

And while not everyone outside the tech industry may have wrapped their mind around SaaS, many are familiar with downloading new software to their iPhone or iPad (although Vend, an HTML app, is loaded and updated via Apple’s Safari web browser on either gadget, rather than being channelled through the AppStore. Mr Rowsell says circumventing Apple’s online store, and its approvals process, saves time, and HTML 5 is a better path for developing for all platforms).

Whichever country it’s sold, Vend’s target market is the same: small-to-medium retailers with one to 20 stores.

All going to plan, Mr Rowsell said VendHQ would be cashflow positive by July next year.

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Comments and questions
2

Nice one!

Outstanding, should be more celebrated as a NZ success story