How iMinds helped one Belgian startup become a global player

Belgian startup POSIOS launched in 2012 with an innovative point of sale (POS) solution and the ambition to become the world’s top POS app for the hospitality industry – specifically restaurants. 
 
In just two years, the company has grown from a local team of three to an international business of 23 employees and more than 700 customers worldwide. That rapid expansion caught the eye of Canada’s Lightspeed, the global leader in retail POS solutions. 
The technology developed as POSIOS is now Lightspeed Restaurant, distributed under the global Lightspeed brand. Lightspeed makes point-of-sale products for retail stores and restaurants. Today, more than 21,000 businesses in over 30 countries use Lightspeed to process over €8 billion in transactions globally. 
So how what role did iMinds play in offering the right kind of tech expertise and business support programmes that POSIOS needed to get off the ground? This iMinds Insights interview with Zhong Xu, Lightspeed Restaurant Director of Hospitality Product explains.
 
Taking a new product to market
Zhong Xu: We didn't set out to sell an idea but to build a solution and take it to market. That was a lot of work. We spent a year putting the platform together, using all our weekends and holidays. We also knew that we didn't want to do a local launch, just in Belgium. There's a global market for this technology and we wanted to launch to the world. So we came up with a brand and global-sounding name, built a multilingual website and set up phone numbers in every region. We wanted to appear credible on the world stage, and it worked. 
 
Getting off the ground
Zhong Xu: From a technical perspective we had to think about how to make a cloud-based system that would meet real-time demands of the restaurant environment, where everything has to move quickly. A lot of effort was made in optimising performance, and also in ensuring it's secure, because we're dealing with people's private data and financial transactions. We've embedded FSL for HTTPS, secure tokens and other state-of-the art security measures. We also put a lot of thought into how we wanted to build the business itself. 
 
How the iMinds Connection helping POSIOS to launch 
Zhong Xu: My business partner and myself worked at a university start-up supported by iMinds and went through iMinds' iBoot programme. It was iStart that helped us through the steps of starting the company, finding office space, hiring our first employee, setting up sales and marketing. 
iMinds also played a key role from a technical perspective. We wanted to build the fastest cloud-based POS in the world. Restaurants demand real-time performance. So we needed a framework for measuring the speed of the cloud. We didn't have the capability to devise that kind of framework ourselves, so we asked iMinds. They have this thing called 'flipped' model for knowledge transfer. Instead of researchers pushing discoveries out of the lab, iMinds opens the door for start-ups to come in with research questions and work with teams to get them solved. They helped us work out a technical test with one of the iMinds research groups in Ghent. 
 
Why is it important for startups and small businesses to have access to an organisation like iMinds?
Zhong Xu: You need an organisation that can back you up. As a startup, you can’t just walk into a university and commission research, but iMinds gives you the heft to get that done, because with them you’re part of a larger entity. The iMinds connection gave us instant access to good facilities and smart people. iMinds dedicates a lot of time to projects like this at a cost that is accessible for start-ups. 
 
Source: Sven De Cleyn, Insights – an iMinds publication during Net Futures 2015.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to give an example of how small firms are using the cloud to innovate in the marketplace. Any reference to the provider, support organisation or customer does not constitute an endorsement.
 
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