Tomas came to Ireland over ten years ago from Lithuania. With a background in IT, he originally took a job in the construction sector, which was booming at the time. However, it was always his ambition to start his own business and when the downturn came and he was made redundant he saw this as a good opportunity to do just this. ‘I have always had dreams of running my own businesses, say’s Tomas. I remember when I was a child in Lithuania I was always selling something like lemonade in markets and was always looking at ways to make additional money as I got a real buzz out of it.’
Initially when Tomas began his entrepreneurial journey in Ireland he started with a computer repair shop in Portlaoise in 2008 called IT Vision offering IT supports and maintenance for small businesses and the public. Despite him starting a business in the downturn, IT Vision took off and is still doing well.
Tomas is very excited about his new venture VHost PoS. ‘Around 70% of retail businesses in Ireland are family run, Tomas said. They are small businesses and cannot afford expensive POS (point of sale) systems. We wanted to create a new generation affordable POS system for them’.
Tomas goes on to explain how the stores’ retail data is automatically backed up in the Cloud, which means the store can use a tablet instead of touch screen. There is no need for a back–up office computer because the software is running on the Cloud Servers. The benefits here are that the back office data is accessible from a computer where the owner can get real times sales, warehouse stocks, products.
Tomas funded the new venture VHost PoS through his savings from his IT Vision business and a small bank loan. He has been working hard to develop the best system on the market and what makes the VHost PoS system different is that they are flexible in offering different options to make life easier for his customers. He is a firm believer that you have to solve the customers’ problems and design system with them in mind.
Like all new ventures there were challenges along the way in developing the Infrastructure of the system which costs money as it had be trialed and tested continually to perfect the system. There were cash flow problems during the Pilot stage and many development expenses and different functionality options resulted in higher costs in. However Tomas overcame these difficulties.
Tomas attributes his success so far in business to building and developing strong relationships with his customers. He said that when you are always thinking of your customer and working on constantly improving your service the customer always appreciates this and rewards you with loyalty.
Winning the county award for the most Innovative Company at the County National Enterprise Awards 2015 run by Laois LEO was very exciting for Tomas. It was a great PR opportunity and it really boosted his self-confidence and inspired him to move forward. He had to work on his Business Plan and it was a great experience of having to make the business case in front of the Judging Panel.
He is very passionate about VHost PoS and while he loves to share this, he still had to push himself outside of his comfort zone during the National Enterprise Award process. Making the business case as to why retailers should invest in the VHost PoS was excellent learning for Tomas. He would encourage other businesses to apply to enter these Awards because the experience and the connections you make are priceless. Tomas also believes that customers trust you more when they see you winning awards and it is very good for your brand.
His proudest moment in his business he stated has to be winning the County Final of the National Enterprise Award. When he was presented with his award by Laois LEO, it was a real endorsement of how far he had come since he started his business way back in 2008. While money is always important for a business in order to survive, Tomas is not motivated by money alone. What motivates him more is to change people’s lives in a positive way whether it is creating affordable POS systems to make small retailers’ businesses run smoother. This he believes provides true meaning in life and true job satisfaction and it is this strong motivation that gets him up in the morning.
If there was ONE piece of advice, he would give to a new start-up it would be to look for a good Mentor. ‘They have been down the road before and know all the obstacles and they point you in the right direction, say Tomas. Most people are willing to help you so don’t be afraid to ask.’
Tomas can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his website www.vhost.ie to learn more.