Point-of-sale startup Shift8 has announced today that it has reached ‘multiple millions’ in turnover in its first year, and 500 percent growth. In the current financial year, the startup is claiming 300 percent growth with well over 800 outlets across 45 franchise brands using the system in Australia. The company is not splurging their newfound wealth, instead reinvesting 80 percent of the turnover in its continued success in 2015.
Co-founded by Jonathon Britton, Amy Renae and Alden Zhou, Yvette Anelli, Shift8’s point-of-sale (POS) system was designed specifically for franchises. Their software product Hivemind provides functionalities like staff rostering, timesheets and KPI benchmarks, as well as sales reporting. Shift8 is now being used by a number of prominent franchise giants in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Singapore, with clients including Sumo Salad, New Zealand Natural, Bucking Bull, Mrs Fields and more.
Anelli attributes the company’s growth to the increasing reliance on time and labour saving technologies, saying smartphones and software is key to delivering convenience to businesses and consumers today.
“[Hosted] solutions are hugely important in reducing the enormous infrastructure requirements that were traditionally needed when implementing software solutions,” she said. “We filled a genuine gap in the market so there was an appetite for our product. After we had success with a couple of clients, the word spread quickly. Our clients continue to be our best product and brand ambassadors.”
“The scalable nature of the product means we are perfectly positioned for growth and we have the advantage of being able to organically grow through our existing client base in addition to new brands that come on board.”
Although the startup, which was also recently awarded the Franchise Council of Australia’s Supplier of the Year Award, has experienced significant success early in the game, the founders are being cautious about how they spend their wealth. A majority of their revenues are being used on product refinements as well as new staff hires.
“We spent over a year developing our product and business plan so that we would always have a foundation of focus and I think to achieve the long-term success we desire reinvestment is paramount. It would have been easy to just enjoy the rewards and get dizzy in the face of our growth but we think reinvestment is a must for any startup,” said Anelli.
Shift8 currently has 16 staff members and doesn’t use sales people. They claim that they’re committed to taking a hands on role in the company so that customers receive one-on-one contact with one of the four founders for the length of the professional relationship.
“We don’t use sales people. It’s always been us who interact with clients from the first meeting and for the life of the relationship. It’s created a sense of trust and faith in the products and in our ability to stay relevant to clients as their businesses evolve,” said Anelli.
“We realise this may get harder as we continue to grow but it is a commitment we believe is fundamental to our success so we will ensure the business structure supports this.”
Although the founders were confident they had a viable business, they hadn’t predicted the immediacy and scale of the success they would experience. A big challenge for them at the moment is to manage the speed of growth, which means choosing to decline work.
“The biggest hurdle has been knowing when to say no. It’s tempting to agree to everyone and take on the whole world at once, but you have to think of the customers best interests first or you’ll end up disappointing them, and possibly causing major problems for their business, as well as your own,” said Anelli.
For other startups predicting or undergoing fast growth, Anelli has the following advice:
- If the business is a partnership make sure you have selected wisely. You need good diversity of experience among the team to be able to handle all the various facets of business operation, especially in the beginning.
- Choose strategic alliances carefully. Most times working with other agencies or developers will create a huge amount of work before it leads to success, so make sure that investment in time is going to be fruitful for all parties.
- Manage your growth – reinvest funds in the right areas, like people and infrastructure. A minimum of 60 percent turnover is advisable.
- Know your industry, where it’s going and what the trends are so that you’re ahead of, or at least keeping up with, client needs.
- Know your strengths and learn or outsource the rest.
- Don’t presume you always know what your customers want and need. Ask them.
- Be prepared for hard work and long hours. You don’t get something for nothing.
- Demand the best, from yourself, your business partners and your suppliers.
- Celebrate your wins. There’s no point doing it if you’re not having fun and enjoying the good times.
Image (L to R): Jonathon Britton, Amy Renae-special, Yvette Anelli, Alden Zhou.