Belfast visit inspires ShopKeep POS boss to open European hub in city
FROM Brooklyn to Belfast, a New York businessman has expanded into Northern Ireland – opening his first office outside the USA – based on our universities, our engineering heritage and our entrepreneurial spirit.
Jason Richelson, founder and chief executive of software company ShopKeep POS, has just set up shop in Alexander House on Ormeau Avenue with 10 employees and hopes to eventually create 35 jobs in an investment worth nearly £3m.
The jobs will contribute £1.3m annually to the economy here and it is hoped that the Belfast operation will help the company expand further into Europe.
ShopKeep formed in 2008 has developed an iPad point of sale system for retail shops, bars and restaurants.
The software can turn a tablet computer into a till, barcode scanner, chip and pin machine, contactless payment receiver, receipt printer and enable it to take orders before sending them wirelessly to the bar or kitchen printer.
It also helps keeps records of sales and manages and tracks incomings and outgoings, acting as a cloud-based book-keeping system.
Mr Richelson said he was won over by Belfast in just a very short space of time, deciding to locate here just months after his first visit back in October.
"I was a retailer who ran my own grocery and wine store and I came up with the idea to solve some of the problems I was facing in my own business. This product helps retailers make smarter business decisions," said Mr Richelson.
"I initially began selling the software to coffee shops and bakeries and the product is now being used by more than 10,000 small businesses in the US and Canada.
"Belfast, compared to Dublin or London, is a small town with a smaller culture and a tighter community. I fell in love with the town, it's an exciting place, I love the universities and the work that they are doing, I love the buzz in the software development sector, I love the fact that there are so many good engineers being produced and I love the entrepreneurial spirit."
Mr Richelson's first visit to the province came thanks to the work of Invest Northern Ireland's USA-based team. Invest has offered £245,000 of support for the investment.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said that ShopKeep is excellent example of a small business idea that has grown into a highly competitive company, tripling business every year for the last three years.
"This is a cool product," she said. "Northern Ireland has a growing global reputation for software development and having a company like ShopKeep here will be a brilliant boost for our reputation and will be a place where talented young people will aspire to work."