New plans for software firm
Interview: Robin Knox, Intelligent POS
Making a point from selling up
It has been a curious journey for Robin Knox, from medical school drop-out to one of the stars of the Scottish technology sector.
After quitting his studies early at Edinburgh university he found himself working as a night club manager in Market Street and also ran an indoor paintball centre.
“I needed a better till system and contacted a friend from the nightclub,” he said, recalling the call that would mark another change of career and one day put his soon-to-be-created firm among the country’s leading tech businesses.
The friend was Paul Walton, who became the architect of the technology behind the business.
Knox focused on the idea for a tablet-driven payments system. Intelligent Point of Sale, or Intelligentpos, provided him with the answers, and the analytics, he had been seeking.
Speaking ahead of the sale of Intelligentpos to Swedish firm iZettle, Knox says the deal gives him and the team an opportunity to combine two parts of the same process and build something even bigger.
Already plans are in hand to expand the payroll from 40 to 85 and relocate from Maritime Street in Leith to the city centre.
“I am into technology, but I am not a coder. I cannot code anything,” he admits. “The combination of my ideas and Paul’s technology skills has made the business work.
“We both worked in the hospitality industry and have found that making something for an industry you understand means it actually does what you want it to do.”
The company has developed rapidly since it was created in October 2012 on a kitchen table.
Knox and Walton ran the business from there for eight months until opening an office. Its first employee came on board in 2014. By the end of that year it had 14 on its books.
Last year they decided to dilute their 50-50 shareholding and received external investment from London based angel investors 24Haymarket. The Princes Trust, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Edge also pumped money into the business.
They have all sold their entire stakes to iZettle which the company has been working alongside since just after it launched. It has more than a million small business customers and acquisition is part of the Swedish firm’s plans to move beyond payments and offer a wide range of services to small businesses.
The deal came about when iZettle approached Knox and Walton with a plan for a larger business that made a lot of sense.
“It just seemed the right thing to do,” he says. “We saw a real opportunity with iZettle to put a lot of power behind us.”
Birthplace: Buckinghamshire, grew up in Aberdeen
Education: Edinburgh University Medical School (left after one year)
Career Highlights: Night club manager, owner of Indoor Paintball Centre, Co-founder Intelligent Point of Sale
Who provided you with guidance in the early years of the business?
The Princes Trust appointed a mentor, Julie Grieve, who is still with me. She is an ex-manager of Abbey Business Centres and Old Town Chambers and has been really great.
Do you miss the night club job?
It is a great industry to work in especially when people are having fun. I don’t miss the late nights. I think it aged me.