Vol. 9
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 9

Taking Your Order with Stef Princi

May 2015

Dabbler, "puller aparter", husband and point of sale

Stef Princi is the Managing Director of Bluefrog POS, an emerging and innovative player in Australia’s hospitality point of sale market. After working in IT hardware solutions for many years, Stef stumbled upon the many shortcomings in the hospitality POS systems industry. The hardware was proprietary, out of date and expensive; the software, rigid and clunky. When he met a like-minded developer in Matt Trigwell who could solve the software problems, Stef got to work on the hardware ones. The two of them became a team and Bluefrog POS was born. In volume 9 we explore Stef's journey from tinkerer to thought leader.

Stef Princi--- 30 December 2014

By Lorenzo Princi

You don’t work nine to five in an office. What would you say you do?

So this is sort of my newer role now because obviously the role has changed over the years. So my current role is more-- the first thing I do is check emails, you know? The usual stuff-- do a bit of accounting stuff and I usually look at, you know? I’ve got different tasks-- I might have to-- I’ll get web enquiries, I manage those-- So web enquires will come in, I’ll prepare quotes and information packs and send them to that client.

Organise appointments or demos for those clients and when pretty much all that admin stuff is done and all the enquiries are done, then I’ll do some development. So I’ll look at what needs to be done, if there’s any bug fixes to look at, stuff like that. I’ll liaise with Matt (The Bluefrog POS software developer), with-- to see how it’s going with the new development, whether you know? Anything needs to be done there. That’s sort of my typical day to day role and then obviously in between, other things will come through, get other enquiries come through or the guys at the office will call, that’s it.

"I had really not a lot of interest in computers specifically when I was young, I was pulling radios apart because I was just interested in how they worked-- so I started dabbling, pulling things apart..."
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 9

Taking a step back, what interested you in electronics and more specifically computers?

Well, the way it started is-- so I had really not a lot of interest in computers specifically, electronics, I’m not sure, it was sort of, you know? When I was young, I was pulling you know, radios apart because I was just interested in how they worked, you know? Speakers and how they worked and-- so I started dabbling, you know? Pulling things apart, radio controlled cars and I got excited about the little motors, you know? Putting batteries to the little motors, that sort of stuff but specifically the computers was--

I specifically remember this, it was Christmas time and Mum and Dad said, “we want to give you guys something for Christmas” and we ended up at the Myer Center in Adelaide that had just opened up. They had a computer department and I sort of found myself wandering around there, looking at stuff and looking at games and all that sort of stuff and at the time my brother was in the electronics department, like the stereos, the tvs and stuff like that and-- Mum and Dad had a clear vision of me-- getting us a computer for Christmas because-- especially for me starting-- I was just about to start High School, I was going into year eight and it ended up being a bit of a battle between whether we would get the stereo that Alex (our elder brother) wanted or whether we get a computer and I managed to convince my brother to get a computer because I was saying to him, “Oh, I’ll get all these games, we can play games,” [laughs] and I was showing some of the games that were there on display on demo and that sort of won him over.

So we ended up getting this computer and I remember that first night we got it home. Obviously when starting computers, it wasn’t like now, you turn them on, they boot up, everything’s pre-loaded, just put in your name and you’re up and running. It was basically just a flashing cursor just waiting for me to do something. So I had to read the manual, got out the floppy disk and I reckon it was about three in the morning when Mum came in and said, “what are you doing, go to bed!” I was still trying to figure out how to install DOS at the time and that was basically what got me excited about computers and it started from there and then, yeah-- just the sort of stuff that happens after that; pulling them apart, trying to install software, trying to get you know? Swap games with friends, all that sort of stuff.

"Trying to figure out how to install DOS at the time and that was basically what got me excited about computers."
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 9

You’ve had no formal training in IT, how or where did you learn?

Yeah, I think this almost applies to almost every industry, is that, just working on something or practicing, or dabbling and being-- obviously, you have to be passionate, you have to like what you’re doing is-- I don’t think any sort of university of TAFE can teach you that. Sure, something’s have like a theory behind them, that’s obviously crucial or imperative to that particular industry but I found it tough, it’s not that I specifically thought that I didn’t want to do it because I thought, “well, what if this doesn’t work out, I better have some papers behind me.” So, I started, where I applied for a TAFE course and I was going to Regency TAFE, three nights a week. I was doing what I thought was, you know, a computing course, turned out to be things that had really nothing to do with it. For example, we started doing a soldering course and you know? So we were learning how to solder joints and wires and circuit boards and you know? I-- had-- because I had already dabbled in this I sort of don’t remember any time where you know, that was necessary because you know, I quickly figured out that a lot of computer parts or electronics is all replaceable parts; boards, you just sort of throw them out, especially because the soldering on those is all micro-soldering, it’s not something you can do yourself.

So I quit that course, then me and a friend Simon, because he was looking at getting into computers looked at doing a correspondence course together of MCSE which is a Microsoft Certified System Engineer course and so we went and bought all the material for that and we started reading the material and doing our own sort of tests and then the way that worked is that at the end of you know, a particular book that you finished, you do the official test and you can do it online or at the actual Microsoft centre in the city and so we started on that course and I learnt a lot more from that about-- more to do with networking and engineering stuff which again, wasn’t really my thing that I was doing but I was you know, interested in that and I learnt a lot just from the book. I ultimately never ended up doing the test and neither did Simon but yeah I got a lot out of-- from that.

After working from a young age, seventeen or eighteen, at various computer repair centers, you started your own business (CyberWiz). That’s a risky, or at least, mature thing to do at nineteen. Why not remain as an employee?

Yeah so, one of the things, I was lucky with, two things, one is, I was still at home, so the financial risk factor was lower than you know, somebody that obviously lives on their own or moved out… and the second thing was I had a lot of support from my dad, so dad supported what I was doing and one of the-- I’ll get to this but initially one of the key things that got me started-- to trigger the thought of you know, “I can do this myself and I can do it better” is probably the customer service aspect of where I was working.

So although, you know, It was great working in a team environment and I enjoyed what I was doing and I was working with computers, one of the things I found obviously in that environment was something a lot of people talk about is, you see a lot of workers that you feel maybe aren’t very skilled or at a sort of very high level of customer skills or-- sort of seemed to be moving up the ranks maybe because they’re a friend or a family-- or for whatever reason and I felt some positions for example I was more deserving of but just didn’t get it so I just plotted along doing that but I think the main factor was I saw for example the computers we were building at one particular place was just-- the standards of the components were very low, we were getting a lot of returns, a lot of customer complaints and I felt like I was contributing to that and I didn’t want to be. Even though I wasn’t technically the company or a representative of the company, I was just an employee, I took it personal in that way because sometimes I was dealing with these customers, whether they’d be on the phone or sometimes when they’d come in, they’d want to speak to a technician and so that was the big factor of me thinking, “well, the only way I could ever fix this is if I take control and do it myself” and so that’s basically what happened.

I-- also, I had a bit of a kick-start because a lot of clients I did deal with directly were sort of saying to me, “oh can’t I just deal with you directly? Do I have to go through the company?” You know? “Can’t I ring you and you come and do it for me?” And obviously there’s you know, ethics and protocol when you are working with a company, it’s not the sort of right thing to do but I started to get a feel for-- that there could be potential to you know start off with some of these clients after I left you know, to contact them and sort of maybe get the thing-- the ball rolling and that’s exactly what happened, it all started with one particular client that gave me his number and said, “look if you ever leave or do this on your own, give me a call” and he was my first client and he was a client from a company called A&R Computers who I worked-- and then quick what happened is-- so you know? That got the ball rolling and also gave me time to prepare or set up the business which-- so I learnt a lot there about registering a company and you know, preparing price-lists and finding out who suppliers are and all that sort of stuff but one of the things is dad saw that I was passionate and I was dedicated to doing this, to making this work is that he built a room at the back of the house which was sort of I guess, my new office where I could bring clients and I could do repairs and all that sort of stuff so I-- yeah, I was pretty fortunate in that regard.

"We were getting a lot of returns, a lot of customer complaints and I felt like I was contributing to that and I didn’t want to be."
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 9

You pivoted to POS and moved out of IT hardware/support to a software business? What prompted the change in direction and where did the idea for Bluefrog POS come from?

Yeah, so two parts to that, one is, initially was-- there was a bit of a like a sort of movement or change happening in the industry where, we’re getting these big electronic stores like a Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi sort of appearing and a big shift of these guys competing heavily on price in computer hardware specifically laptops and desktop computers and I was starting to get that feel of you know customers ringing up, you know? Trying to price match, trying to get me to compete against these guys even though I thought I was offering a completely different service to them. I was obviously-- the service component was what was lacking in these places. It’s very hard to convey that to a client, so you know? A lot of them were thinking, “Oh, you’re two or three hundred dollars more expensive” and you know? Trying to have to justify why. Two things, one is, you know, to be competitive with a company that is buying in bulk is hard but also people not understanding that I’m adding a completely different level of service to that; obviously bringing it to them and setting it up onsite and a bit of training, all that sort of stuff. That was one part that got me thinking that I had to find something to specialise in or else was sort of going to get eaten up in this industry.

And the second thing that was happening is that and I think why ended up being the hospitality industry and point of sale specifically was my brother Alex was-- being sort of a Chef, working and managing restaurants, he called me up one day when they took over-- he got involved in a restaurant and there was a computer there which he just saw it as a standard computer. Obviously it was a specialised computer-- point of sale system but they were trying to get this computer going and so he called me up and said you know? “Can you come down and have a look at this computer?” So I went down and had a look and I quickly realised it was a little bit different, it was-- sure it was a computer but like I said, more specialised, different sort of components, different architecture and I said to him, “look, it’s not really something I can do. I wouldn’t know where to start here, it’s-- I think the best thing to do here is call the number on the sticker on the computer and you know? See what happens from there” and he said to me, “look, do you mind calling and speaking to him because you know this guy might start talking all technical and I’m not going to know what it’s all about.” So I said, “No worries.” So I rang this guy from a company called G-POS, his name was Andrew and I started talking to him on the phone and I said to him, “I’ve looked at this and I’ve tried this and I’ve tried that.” And he seemed a little bit impressed at maybe the technical level at which I was speaking to him about and he asked me if I could wait on site while he came down because he wanted to have a chat to me. And, so I did.

And so, when he arrived on site, we sort of got this thing going and he said to me, “do you-- is this the sort of thing that you do?” and “Do you mind,” you know, “maybe helping me out on the computer side of things because I’m really more sales.” And I said, “yeah, sure, I mean you know, I can, I’ll help you out on this side, I’d be interesting in getting into a different sort of area” so I started working with this guy Andrew and so he introduced me to this point of sale, that’s how I sort of got into the point of sale side of things and yeah it was selling this specific software package that was developed for the hospitality industry and I was doing sort of the hardware, the installations and repairs obviously and I sort of learnt about the different hardware and obviously having like a computer background I was-- it was very similar obviously, so it wasn’t starting from scratch and I basically fell in love with the whole idea of the software aspect which wasn’t anything that was-- that I was involved with before and that’s sort of how I got into that.

So at the time you were supporting another platform, so how did Bluefrog POS come about from there?

Yeah, so, I found myself in the same circumstance I was when I was working at the computer shops-- is the same sorts of things started to emerge where, I felt I didn’t have control. I was working with this guy-- even though I wasn’t technically employed by him, we were pretty much part-- unofficial partners, (but) ultimately it was his business, he had the last say and yeah I guess the thing that emerged again was the customer service aspect-- side of thing where, I felt the product was great, I didn’t mind the product that we were selling but, yeah, I just felt like obviously the service to the clients and you know, I started to meet some of the existing clients we had and a lot of them were giving me some background stories of, you know, their disappointment or how they felt and they were also saying they didn’t-- the prod-- it wasn’t specifically the product it was just more the after sale service and so I found myself again in that situation where I had to make a decision or you know? Really I knew where this was going to lead was to do this, you know? I would have to do it myself.

I really didn’t know where to start at that point so the first thing I did was contact the software supplier of the software we were selling and sort of asked them if there was an opportunity for me to become a reseller of that software, obviously independent of the other guy but that unfortunately wasn’t an opportunity due to a conflict of interest or obviously because that guy had-- he was sort of the sole dealer in my city. So I started to look online and make enquiries and sort of look at other products that were on the market and it was, you know, a whole heap of packages available from The States which yeah, were looking for resellers obviously in other countries of the world so I started making contact with a lot of these companies and looking at their software.

Again one of the issues I encountered there was, “sure I can do it myself”, I had control of that part of it but the part that I didn’t have control of was the software and I thought like that would’ve been a big part because already in the small experience I had already had was that you know? Clients would ask for small changes or feature requests and I had met some resistance already with the existing product that we were doing, or challenges with that, and so I thought okay this is another sort of hurdle, I guess, that I have to get past and so it just happened again that my brother managed to get me out of this one where he said to me that there was a guy that kept going into their restaurants saying, “oh you know, we’ve got our own software that we want to sell that--” you know?

Obviously trying to sell them a point of sale system and I asked Alex if he could give me his number, next time this guy came in or contacted them if he could you know, either organise a meeting or get me his contact details. And eventually that happened and I did, I rang this guy-- he was pretty eager to meet me as well, his name was Matt. He was a software developer that had written a point of sale system software package specifically for the hospitality industry so obviously luck played a lot of part in a lot of this but yeah sat down, had a chat with him and it just so happened to be that he was in a situation where he was-- he had a guy re-selling his software that he wasn’t happy with-- the direction of the company was going, he just felt like it was you know? Doing a lot of work for not a lot of return and it was I don’t know, it was just one of those things they say, a match made in heaven, where he was the developer, I wasn’t interested in that part, I just needed a package. I was just going to concentrate on the sales and installation and after sale service and so I guess that sort of-- that team started from there and that’s where Bluefrog, I guess was founded and still goes to this day, yeah...

Bluefrog POS focuses primarily on hospitality: what were the challenges and unknowns when targeting a traditionally non-tech industry?

Yeah, I’m not sure, I mean-- on a client’s perspective, I always tried to separate the two, the software and the hardware, so it’s-- you know, obviously a lot of clients-- most of them aren’t technically minded, they just sort of see it as a solution rather than you know, a piece of software running on a piece of hardware, so I probably can’t say I’ve been challenged, the only-- one of the things I can say, when I first started; is because I came from an IT background and I was familiar with computer hardware, one of the things I did find was that hardware that was specifically designed or available for the-- for this sort of I guess, not specifically hospitality but for point of sale, whether it be retail or hospitality, was all this proprietary type hardware that was being developed by these specific companies. Sort of unknown brands to me that were building obviously computers and I felt, in my eyes that the computer hardware, even though it may not have been, seemed very out dated. The technology was very outdated, you know?

Obviously being familiar with how progressive the computer industry was of you know, specs, new processes coming out, new software coming out, it just felt like the hardware that was available for this, for the, you know, retail or hospitality sector was just maybe three or four years behind and so I was struggling a little bit with sort of jumping on board and just starting to use that stuff just probably more, because I felt like-- well, they cost a lot more so it’s like, “I’m paying four times more for hardware that’s, you know, three times older” type thing, so it just didn’t seem right, so I-- a thing I’d sort of-- I was a little bit outside of the mould of what people were doing, so I was sort of custom building my own computers and sort of finding touch screens on the market and just sort of, I guess, putting together my own sort of systems, which, you know, at first I thought may have been an issue but turned out to be not an issue at all. It was easier for me to service, it was cheaper for me to service because parts were sort of standard parts you can get from any PC store, whereas obviously these proprietary units, you know, you had to go back to them and they could basically charge anything they wanted for parts. Just to give you an example, I had to order a power supply for a specific machine and I was quoted at around seven hundred dollars, whereas I was used to paying around sixty dollars for a power supply.

So, I did that for at least the first three or four years-- I wasn’t-- even though I was getting bombarded with suppliers saying, “oh you know we’ve got this product and that product and it’s specific and it’s robust--” I just-- yeah, I just shied away from that and wasn’t interested. Until more recently where I think it’s sort of-- the components sort of started to catch up to where the rest of the industry was. But irrespective of that, yeah, to the client, like I said it wasn’t-- it was transparent to them-- it was a solution, so yeah, I didn’t have any issues with clients saying, “oh, this doesn’t look like a--” you know, “what the next restaurant has got” or anything like that.

Bluefrog POS is now being used Australia wide, however it all started here in Adelaide, why do you think you’ve been successful in a small market like Adelaide, especially with smaller businesses, where you’d be their first digital system and they’ve picked Bluefrog POS over larger brands?

Yeah, I think one of the big key factors is that I’ve done this in the city of Adelaide. So, I guess even though Adelaide’s a growing city, it’s a very tight nit community. A lot of people know-- especially in a specific sector or industry, a lot of people seem to know other people in that industry. It’s just-- it’s just the way it is and so I guess even-- similarly based with my business before is, I’ve never sort of-- absolutely never been a-- any marketing person by any stretch of the imagination, so for me it was-- I just felt this model that had worked for me before which was, give great customer service and you know? People will tell other people about it, they’ll refer people or they’ll be comfortable in referring people-- seemed to have sort of worked in this industry to so, you know, obviously my brother being in the industry got me started you know? Giving me contacts to restaurateurs and stuff like that but I also did the-- I guess the tough part was I was starting at the time where it was also a new thing in the industry. A lot of people in this industry were using pen and paper or just a basic cash register so it was a bit of a double edged sword in that regard.

Yeah, I found myself that-- I didn’t want to go too big too fast, also because the software was still sort of being developed-- is-- we sort of found a test market, “let’s find a client that is open to this, that is willing to work with us,” that’s, you know, yeah, not afraid of delving into this and let’s just see how it goes from there so that’s how we started. We started sort of small and we picked a client, did exactly that, worked with him closely to get, because obviously I had no experience in hospitality and neither did the developer (Matt) so we thought, let’s get someone that’s been in this industry for a while and it-- yeah, just seemed to have worked out because he was giving us you know, feedback and angles of things we never thought of-- to consider and obviously then he-- you know? Once he was happy with the product, it was easy for him I guess to spread the word because he felt like he was a part of it, that it was his product too in a way and so he was very passionate about it and he felt like he was I guess, you know? Leading the sort of-- the charge in the hospitality industry because he was you know, had-- had sort of-- latest technology in his business.

And it just-- yeah I guess advertising was never something I consider-- never really needed to do, it sort of moved at the right pace, it wasn’t going too fast and it wasn’t going too slow and I always knew that I had my IT work to fall back on and I think that was a big advantage because I was-- when I first started it was probably eighty percent general IT and twenty percent point of sale and then over the years you know? That sliding scale changed, got to fifty/fifty. Eventually got-- when it got to around sort of seventy/thirty I guess is when I decided to commit fully to the point of sale and let go of the IT stuff and so, yeah, it sort of just evolved itself. I-- like I said, I didn’t-- I didn’t commit-- definitely not a budget but just-- maybe some basic flyers and stuff but the-- yeah, Adelaide, I was lucky, had this been in another city in Australia, it may have not been the same but yeah, the word spread pretty quickly and the product I think spoke for itself and that’s what I think helped drive the business and obviously, well like anything, the more it grows itself, the more clients you get, automatically it becomes a compounding type advertising-- now there’s more people advertising and it just sort of yeah, went from there.

"Once he was happy with the product it was easy for him I guess to spread the word because he felt like it was his product as well."
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 9

Developing software is difficult, expectations are very high as nothing is really new anymore. Client expectations don’t always meet user needs. How do you manage these situations to avoid either bloating the product or upsetting a client?

Yeah, well that’s certainly changed over the years. I mean initially, obviously, everything was new to all parties involved, both the client and to Matt the developer and myself so-- and obviously we were only working with one client, it was hard for us to know whether decisions being made were the right ones or the wrong ones so obviously, initially a lot of client feedback and client requests were just basically met with, yeah, I guess an-- an unknown but you know? Obviously there’s always a level of common sense that you know, and also sometimes there’s-- where something may get done and then it gets reversed or taken out because it’s-- it doesn’t end up being used and causes other issues or whatever, so there’s-- obviously at the beginning there’s a lot of learning involved in all parties involved but I think client requests are-- I think are a lot easier to manage when you’re on a small scale business like we were where there is only one developer and one client manager that’s dealing with the client and I think that was one of the I guess challenges of bigger software developers that were on the market.

I mean our competition, there were two specific companies that had been around for ten years doing this and you know? They had a polished product and all that sort of stuff but one of the feedbacks that I was getting of-- when I was doing say demonstrations and you know, trying to compete, you know on business. People had specific needs for their software and they had approached that company and they were specifically being told, “no, we won’t be doing that” or, “we’ll take your request, we’ll put it on a list and it may or may not get done.” And so, whereas obviously my attitude was, “well, we can do that, it doesn’t seem that hard, why not?” If we are going to win the business and so, my attitude was, you know? I guess-- we used scrutiny on all this sort of stuff but a lot of the requests, I don’t think we’re anything that were, not doable. They were sometimes easy, easy sort of requests and-- or stuff that I felt other clients would benefit from that were great ideas that made sense, so why not do it? And so that was our philosophy and-- and we knew from the start that it was going to be one of those things where, when we do add a feature or request, is that all clients would benefit from it. It wouldn’t be where you know, people are on different versions and all that sort of stuff because that would also make it harder for us to manage and that also, that aspect seemed to just work, that model and that’s what helped us win business initially and obviously, price was another factor, you know?

We didn’t have the overheads of these bigger companies and because I was you know? I felt like I was a little bit smarter in the way I could source my own hardware and I could build my own computers compared to the exorbitant prices that were being charged I, you know, I just felt like we had a winning combination in there of customisation, flexibility, ease of use. I mean we were ticking all the boxes I felt in that area, proven customer service. So we had some clients that, you know, we were saying-- we were confidently saying to people, call these guys, we were using them as referrals and the clients were happy to become referrals for these jobs and I-- so I think it just sort of-- that’s where it sort of started to grow.

"Customisation, flexibility, ease of use."
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 9

You’ve been in partnership with your software developer for some time, but when you had to actually hire staff for the first time, was their trepidation at having the pressure of a monthly wage to pay?

Yeah, so-- that was a massive step for me. So, obviously as the client base grew and also my-- I guess my role in the business was changing. I was trying to juggle all the different aspects so obviously, you know? From accounts to support. I had to make a decision. I got to a point where it got to a certain level of clients where I didn’t want the service level to drop off that was-- that was the most important thing to me, was keep that up because I found that that was-- because my marketing wasn’t my strength that was my marketing, for me. If-- if I could keep clients happy, they were selling for me. They were the referrals, I was getting you know, I guess a strike rate of, you know? Get me in front of a client to do a demo and you know? The percentage of getting that job might be say, sixty-five, seventy percent but when it had come from a referral, you know? It was up at ninety, nighty-five percent so I knew that was a major factor of you know? In my decision to, yeah, to make a change, to somehow build on that aspect.

So I had to make a decision, one was to grow the business internally, so either, obviously employ people or maybe look at contracting a company to manage that aspect of it and a few years early I had dabbled in a little bit of that-- of getting a company to, I guess, assist in the support, to be as a sort of a backup support. Didn’t work out every well because obviously the company I was dealing with had their own clients and their own priorities so I thought, “okay, well let me try the alternative” which is for me to hire somebody directly and obviously I would have-- they would be fully dedicated to the business and I would have full control of their time and resources so I went and spoke to my accountant to see whether financially you know, Bluefrog could sustain a full-time employee because unfortunately a part-time employee would not work because in support, calls can come at any time of the day on any given day, so the only decision-- the only option was to employ someone full-time, and yeah, so I started to look for somebody and yeah I made the ultimate decision to employ somebody and yeah, sure at first it was a big scary thing for me because it was the first time I actually had a full-time commitment to the business where yeah financial obligations had to be met every month and so-- but I was confident because you know? The accountant reassured me that the business was growing, the money’s coming in, there’s no-- you know? And so I just took that and I did it and it-- yeah it turned out okay and so that obviously alleviated a lot of pressure off me, I was able to manage the other parts of the business and have a technician on call was just a huge burden off my shoulders.

"I was trying to juggle all the different aspects so obviously, you know? From accounts to support. I had to make a decision. I got to a point where it got to a certain level of clients where I didn’t want the service level to drop off."
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 9

What has the partnership with Sprint IT meant for the business and also yourself?

Yeah, so I guess even having an employee as the business was continuing to grow as it has year on year was that the next crossroad came-- was, keep expanding-- so keep internally growing and it’s just you know? My own personal thing was-- I’ve always had this fear of having financial commitments or-- you know? I don’t know, I guess it’s one of those things growing up, you hear a lot of horror stories I guess of you know, people you know, I guess investing money, borrowing money, growing exponentially, whether it be their business or whether they’re investing or finan-- you know? Investment properties or whatever, is a lot of them, sure were successful but a lot of them lost a lot or they lost everything and you know? With-- I think at this time, you know? It was around the time of the financial crisis (GFC) you know? A lot of unknowns there-- I just-- yeah, there was a lot of fear in me of you know, committing too much of-- because obviously for me to do it properly would be to find a dedicated office space, employ an admin person. I mean, you know, you can’t just do it half-hearted, you would have to go the whole hog and it meant me obviously borrowing money to set up an infrastructure and I just couldn’t bring myself to doing that even-- even though you know? Accountant was saying, you know, “you could do it and its-- business is financially viable,” I just couldn’t bring myself to make that big of a commitment.

So I thought, “what’s the alternative?” And-- so I went and had a chat to a-- a sort of a similar sort of guy that ran an IT business that I’d known for years and sort of shared an office space and all that sort of stuff and I went and had a chat to him about the predicament I was in I guess and you know, he said to me, “look, the option is, we’ve got the infrastructure here, we’ve got an office, we’ve got an admin girl, we’ve got a couple of techs, we’ve got it all here, why not maybe lean on us to manage and handle that aspect of your business?”

And so I guess it started where you know? We started having conversations about how we would model this and makes this work and you know, he had assisted me in the past with you know? Some of my clients, so he was a little bit familiar with the industry but we also-- one of the big factors of me choosing this options was that we agreed that he was going to take over my employee, my technician that had been with me for eighteen months which made the whole process easier because, yeah obviously there was a common denominator there that knew the industry, knew the clients, knew the hardware, knew the software and so it became almost a no brainer that that was the way to go. There was no financial outlay, there was no-- very low risk decision, it was one of those things where, it’s a very loose contract, sort of, if it works out? Let’s give it a go sort of thing, if it works out? Great! If it doesn’t you know? We go our, sort of separate ways, so I just thought, “yeah, no brainer, what-- this is the way to do it.” And I guess the-- and so yeah, we went down the path and one of the big things is from that, I quickly learnt was just the big weight off my shoulders of me having to manage-- because I-- yeah I always thought, “yeah, it’s the client-- the client comes first” but there was just so many aspects of the business, I mean the accounting part was almost you know? Two, three hours a day just managing accounts was already just a big thing and then let-- on top of that, software development, client management, you know? Suppliers, dealing with suppliers, stocks, orders, obviously then having my employee and all that being taken sort of away from me and managed by another company was just-- it opened me up to concentrate on what I had always aimed to do, was to grow the-- the back end of the business, which was you know, setting up dealers and finding yeah, sort of finding franchises or taking the software to the next level I guess.

"I’ve always had this fear of having financial commitments ... you hear a lot of horror stories ... whether it be their business or whether they’re investing ... a lot of them, sure were successful but a lot of them lost a lot or they lost everything."
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 9

What’s next for Bluefrog POS?

Yeah so, the big-- well one of the things that is happening is, Matt’s come on board as a partner of Bluefrog now so we’ve got very clear objectives on both parts, so his pure direction is to develop the products which we’re currently working on a new version of the software to take us to the next level on that aspect, to open up our market globally and all that sort of stuff and that’s sort of his main role and my main role is to basically get Bluefrog to a national and international level by setting up dealers to distribute the software and yeah, to sort of get out there and try and pick up bigger deals you know, like franchises and stuff that can yeah, take the software to the next level, so I guess the three to five year plan is to have a dealer in every major capital city in Australia and then from there expand into markets like New Zealand and South East Asia and stuff like that.

Find Stef at bluefrogpos.com.au

Proofreading by Cinzia Forby & Luke Yates.