Nicolas Beique, Founder & CEO at Helcim
1. What does Helcim do?
Helcim is a payments+ company that lets small business owners accept credit cards and run their entire business from a cloud-based, all-in-one merchant platform. From retail to e-commerce and everything in between, Helcim merchants have all the tools and software solutions they need to build their business.
2. What inspired you to start? What problem are you solving?
For years I spoke with small business owners who were struggling to try and use technology to grow their business. I wanted to build a tool that allowed small businesses to compete with the biggest firms, without the need for programmers and web developers.
On November 2, 2017, we launched Helcim Commerce, a platform that encapsulates both my business philosophy of helping small businesses and my drive to out-innovate and outwork my competitors.
Helcim Commerce directly competes with industry software giants like QuickBooks, Shopify, FreshBooks, Micros, Squirrel, Square, Recurly and countless others. We differentiate ourselves by offering a better experience to our merchants as an all-in-one solution with great payments built in.
3. How long did it take you to go from prototype to launch?
Building our first payment gateway took us eight months. The longest part of Helcim’s initial launch was finding a bank to work with us and building our relationship with them.
Our latest platform is Helcim Commerce, which took three years to build and we’re still not done. We’ve been evolving the platform since the launch in the Fall of 2017, and we have exciting things planned for the future.
4. How did you determine who your audience might be for this product?
Almost every business needs to accept credit card payments in some form. Since our potential customer base is so large, we are constantly trying to target our messaging so that we can speak to the individual needs of different business owners. It is an unsurmountable challenge to try to market to everyone. Figure out who is getting the most value from your product and focus on them.
5. How did you go about building your team?
Over four years we have grown our team from two people to 38. We hire creative and passionate people who are committed to finding a way to get the job done. We focus on seeking team members who are critical thinkers with drive, and then teach them the skills they need.
6. If you could hire someone today to help you with one thing, what would it be and why?
From development to customer service, we’re hiring new people every month. My next goal is to find a risk-management leader who has experience in the payments industry and can help us with our next product launch.
7. What's one thing you wish you'd known about the startup community?
Calgary has a lot more entrepreneurs and technology-based companies than many people realize. Sometimes Calgary’s startup and tech community still feels hidden. I would love to have the startup and tech scene in Calgary become a big part of the conversation in this city so all Calgarians can embrace the different types of companies that call Calgary home.
8. What are your greatest achievements so far?
I am really proud of the fact that we have built a world-class company completely bootstrapped with just six developers. It was a lot of work, but it ultimately put us in a very advantageous position.
9. What are your future goals for your company? Any specific milestones for 2018?
The launch of Helcim Commerce was just the beginning. We have more industry-specific solutions currently in development including a restaurant point-of-sale system, property-management tools and an accounting suite. Our vision is to become a full business platform that empowers any industry.
10. How can companies make the most of their experience with Startup Calgary?
Get involved! This might sound a little bit cliché, but just making the effort to get out there and meet people will make all the difference in building a community around yourself and your business.
11. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to take their idea from the back of a napkin to the marketplace?
Don’t underestimate how hard entrepreneurship can be. It’s important to prepare yourself for the most painful, scary and stressful experience of your life. Setting the expectation that this is going to be one of the most difficult things you ever do will help you persevere through the toughest parts.
12. If you could tell the rest of the world something about Calgary, what would you say?
This city is going to do great things in the technology space, so start paying attention - Technology companies who choose to base their headquarters in Calgary (and in Canada) have a huge economic advantage that will allow them to grow into fantastic enterprises. Helcim is proud to be in Calgary and we look forward to helping establish Calgary as a technology hub.
13. What was the biggest surprise you encountered building your startup?
Finding the right people to create the right environment and culture is challenging. It takes a lot of work to retain great people and engage with your team to ensure the company culture matches what you envisioned.
Learn more at https://www.helcim.com/ca/
Published on August 7, 2018