The Vend machine

SIOBHAN LEATHLEY
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013
vaughanrowsell
Vend CEO Vaughan Rowsell.

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Most founders of successful startups return calls from a desk stacked high with paperwork. When Unlimited calls, Vend founder Vaughan Rowsell is at the company’s pool table, chilling out with staff. 

That’s business as usual for the CEO, who believes being sociable and creating a strong work culture are big parts of being successful.

“If you get the culture right — good hiring and communication — then it’s half the battle won.

“Everyone here is equal regardless of their role. We’re constantly sharing information — the good the bad and the ugly. A startup is very high risk. When you try something new you may or may not win. This is unnerving for a lot of people, by constantly sharing and being open bad news is motivating rather than demoralising.”

Every Vend employee is a shareholder, so has a vested interesting the company’s success.

So how successful is Vend, the point of sale technology company Rowsell formed in 2009?

Last year the company’s revenue grew 400% and staff numbers rose from nine to 40.

It also raised $2 million in capital last year in a round led by German company Point Nine Capital, and was judged best workplace in the Kenexa Best Workplaces survey for 2012.

Rowsell wants to keep Vend on the growth fast track. It already operates in 100 countries, including the US, Australia and New Zealand.

In the next 12 months, Rowsell wants to double employee numbers and increase customer numbers three or four-fold.

“I really want to see it become a company which is a strong player in the global market. To prove that you don’t have to be based in [Silicon] Valley to be a success, you can do it from little old New Zealand.”

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