On Starting An Online Credit Card Processing Company

Published: March 13th, 2021
Nicolas Beique
Founder, Helcim
from Calgary, AB, Canada
started January 2007
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I am the founder and CEO of Helcim, a payments company that makes it faster, easier, and more affordable for businesses to get paid. I’ve been passionate about programming since a young age and launched a series of companies before turning my attention to the idea of an online credit card processing company with a built-in shopping cart. It was this idea that has grown into the payment processing and software offering that Helcim provides today.

Today, Helcim employs 77 team members, and serves thousands of merchants in Canada and the US, and has built a reputation for being a friendly and transparent payment processor.


What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

I started building this company 14 years ago when I was 23 years old, without raising venture capital or taking on debt. Starting a new payments company is a challenging feat; the security, technology, and compliance requirements are daunting even for well-funded startups. My background is in computer programming, and a lot of the original systems were coded by me. Thankfully, Helcim now has an amazing team of developers that add new products and features to our platform every day.

Just take it one step at a time and remember that perseverance is the most common trait among those who have found success.

As the founder of Helcim, I’ve worn many hats. I’ve been a customer service agent, the sole sales representative, head negotiator, bookkeeper, human resources manager, and every other role in between in the crazy journey that is entrepreneurship.

Now, most of my days are filled with working on strategy and collaborating with the team as we continue to grow the company.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

I launched a series of companies, including a web design firm, a 3D sales platform, and a local social media website before turning my attention to the idea of an online credit card processing company with a built-in shopping cart. The iterations of Helcim have taken time, you can’t build a payments company overnight.

Since launching we have continued to evolve our software offering from standard tools to our complete suite of products that all of our merchants get access to. This includes a virtual terminal, invoicing, customer management, a point-of-sale, fully hosted online store, and more. Today when a merchant signs up for a Helcim account they immediately get access to all the tools they need to run their business.

In June 2020 we re-launched our payments service taking control over our payments stack, this is something that very few companies ever manage to do. I am incredibly proud that we were able to get to this point, and in the middle of a pandemic no less.

As the company has grown, I’ve also been able to expand the team and today we employ 77 people and counting in development, marketing, finance, and customer service with ambitious growth plans for the coming years.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Throughout 2020 the team and I were very focused on enhancing our eCommerce tools and providing more ways for businesses to continue accepting payments from customers despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Through the latter half of 2020, Helcim launched six major feature releases to give businesses more options for their payments. To meet changing payment needs we have launched text payment requests, QR codes for payment pages and websites, recurring invoicing, online food ordering, and an enhanced online store, in addition to platform-wide improvements. We have also looked for ways to make business owners' lives easier by doing things like waiving our monthly fee for the first three months after a business sign-up and introducing auto-pause billing.

Our focus has been on ensuring we’re giving the businesses that partner with us the tools they need to pivot and adapt to the challenges they are facing.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Sticking to our path and Helcim values has always been really important to me, I think for anyone who is starting a business or leading a team you need to be very clear on who you are and what your values are.

At Helcim, we decided early that the hard way was our way. That short-termism and profit-at-all-costs are what ultimately lead to the downfall of companies. We believe that the 21st century is bringing a new generation of companies that will rise above the old ways of doing business. That this is the era of companies with virtue. Keeping this in mind at all times helps steer our decisions and keep us on the right path.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

At Helcim, we’re lucky to have a talented team of developers building both our external and internal software. We tend to build custom solutions in-house to meet our unique needs.

In addition to our in-house tools, we use many of the standard marketing resources including social media platforms, third-party review sites, and partnerships with industry leaders to connect with business owners.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I always have a book on the go. Some of my recent favorites include Netflix No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer, 7 Powers by Hamilton Helmer and The Innovation Stack by Jim McKelvey. Right now I’m listening to Master Thinker II - Six Thinking Hats by Dr. Edward de Bono.

There are some key books I recommend all of our team members to read. These include High Output Management by Andy Grove, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky, This is Marketing by Seth Godin and Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. These are just my most common suggestions, but each team leader usually has their own recommendations. Book clubs are a big part of Helcim.

For podcasts, I am a regular listener of Pivot with Scott Galloway and Kara Swisher, and How I Built This.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

You don’t know what you’re doing.

Your business plan is unrealistic.

Your model will need to change – more than once.

It will take five times longer than you think.

It will be really hard, and you will question yourself at every step.

And it’s okay. This is part of the journey.

Just take it one step at a time and remember that perseverance is the most common trait among those who have found success.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can visit the Helcim website or connect with us on social media, we share awesome videos on our YouTube page.

Or follow along on Twitter or Instagram.

Nicolas Beique, Founder of Helcim
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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