So who are you anyway, and what do you do?
Nick Cloete, South African born, proudly Australian (except when watching the rugby). Founded Kounta (Point of Sale), that works on anything, both on and offline and connects to any mobile and online service that retailers use, or should if they don’t.
What was your last job before getting into this?
I owned a legacy Point of Sale Software Company.
And why did you decide to do what you do now?
As I said, I got involved in this legacy Point of Sale software company and realised that even though the software had been developed over the past 20 odd years it couldn’t do what our customers needed it to. It was difficult to sell, update and support and couldn’t come close to catering to the requirements of today’s online, mobile and connected world. So I assembled a small group of outstanding people to design and develop the best way to better connect merchants and their customers today, in store at point of sale. Enter Kounta.
What is it about the 60/70/80/90s that you miss most? (Choose one)
I was born in the 80’s and spent my early years growing up with African people who are some of the warmest and friendliest people on the planet, most of whom don’t have much material wealth which taught me life is not only about these things. Living in Australia now I realise even more than ever how blessed we are to have pretty much anything we want at anytime, that sometimes we take for granted
What is the biggest challenge facing SMEs today?
Choice. There are so many great products out there (and also so many not so great ones) so it’s tough for SMEs to sort through and select the best product and/or service to use and invest time and money into.
Can cloud software solve that challenge? And if so, how? And if not, what can?
Not really, but experience can. We live in an experience economy now where people place most value on the experience they get from products and services they use. SMEs now have instant access to pretty much any product and service, especially cloud software, so it’s really important now that quality is separated from quantity in whichever way possible, which starts with experience.
If you could retire now, what would you do? Or not do?
I would go crazy if I retired now. I always have to be doing something and I am really enjoying doing what I’m doing at the moment, so I’d probably start something like Kounta again shortly after going into voluntary retirement. If it was mandatory retirement, I’d spend all my time with my wife and kids to perfect being a Dad.
If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
Albert Einstein once said, Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction. Also, you can’t be everything to everyone. I’ve learned this especially with this latest project, we’ve put a lot of effort into the initial research, design and development of Kounta creating a very flexible and scalable retail platform. We had to do this because retail life both in and and out of hours is pretty demanding, so it’s paying off now as we have a very well rounded SME retail experience, but we came close to making Kounta a little too complex by trying to be everything to everyone.
If you could walk up to anyone, kick them in the shins and shout something at them, who would it be, and what would you shout? Go on….get it off your chest!
My younger self and give him the above mentioned advice.
If you could buy anyone a drink in a bar and chat to them about anything, who would it be, what drink, and what would you talk about?
Nelson Mandela was born in the Transkei kingdom of Southern Africa that brews a traditional African beer/milk like concoction that tastes pretty bad, but out of respect to him and if the bar just happened to serve this, that would be the drink. I’d chat to him about standing up for your beliefs, patience, forgiveness and uniting people towards a common goal.
If you could walk up to anyone and hug them, who would it be, and why?
My dad, Gerard Cloete. You get a lot from a hug from him.
What’s your favourite meat and gravy meal?
Pap and Vleis (pronounced pup and flace) is a thick maize meal porridge and meat, which you eat with your fingers. It is called Pap in South Africa but goes by different names in different regions, but it all boils down to the same thing. Pap is eaten with everything but most usually with some form of meat.
What is your greatest achievement?
I delivered both my children with my beautiful wife Michelle.
What do you want to achieve that you haven’t as yet?
My current position title says Founder and CEO. This seems to be the default title nowadays for founders of early stage tech companies and I think its necessary for defining where you fit into your companies corporate structure, but I think being a true CEO/leader is a different story and something I work hard towards achieving every day.
What’s next for you?
Kounta’s New Version going live later this year.
Nick is Founder and CEO of Kounta.