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A Year in Review - Reflecting on 2020

Hello Team Helcim,

I wanted to take an opportunity to look back on this crazy past year.

2020 started off with excitement - our new office space was coming together. We were all ready to move to our new downtown space, uniquely designed for our growing team. Most importantly, after three years of hard work behind the scenes, we were finally about to relaunch our payment service and step out of the shadows, no longer a merchant account reseller but instead becoming our own payments provider - ready to offer the payment experience we’ve always known our merchants deserved.

Then 2020 showed it’s true colors. By March 14th, we were all sent home to face a crisis of an unknown scale. The first weeks were filled with enormous stress, late nights and so much uncertainty about the future of our company and our merchants. But by April there was a glimmer of hope on the horizon - our payment volumes stabilized and the world started adapting to a strange new way of life. That glimmer turned into a bright shining sun when I witnessed this fantastic team, you, team Helcim, come into your full potential. You all rolled up your sleeves, put the very best of yourselves forward, and decided to take your future into your own hands and build your way out of this storm.

The Guru Team got hard at work bringing a calm voice and a helping hand to thousands of fearful merchants. Teaching them new ways to take payments and adapt their business. Through all the uncertainty, you even managed to convince some of those same merchants to take another risk in trying our beta and help us improve our upcoming service.

Meanwhile, everyone else was hard at work bringing a full metamorphosis to our company. Our entire website was redesigned and rebuilt, along with our brand, marketing, and messaging. A new payments app that could work across four different operating systems was brought to production. Everyone pitched in and the coding of countless backend systems was finished and brought online - millions of new lines of code. New servers and technology tested and deployed, even our new additional data-center was starting to take shape. We even managed to rebuild our ecommerce systems, while in the middle of all that chaos. 

You did it all while sitting on uncomfortable chairs (or in some cases, directly on the floor), with makeshift desks and keyboards, while facing the stress of isolation, the unknowns of a worsening worldwide pandemic, and fears for the safety of friends and family.

On June 1, we did what should really have been impossible for our little Calgary-based bootstrapped company. We released something that so many had told us could not be done with our budget, our size, and resources. We launched a new payment service, based on a technology stack built completely in-house. A payment service that works across in-person and online payments. That works across two countries and over nine hundred industry codes. Our new service was finally online, and from day one, it resonated with merchants and they began signing up. 

With the summer looking brighter and with this opportunity having finally arrived, we once again rolled up our sleeves and took on this new challenge. Our Trust and Safety Team reviewed over 5,000 new merchant applications in those six months and stopped thousands of fraudulent merchants from stealing our hard-owned funds. The Systems and DevOps Teams kept our environment secure, and brought better ways for us to code and deploy updates. The QA Team navigated bugs and new feature requests and worked long and hard to help shape better products. The Defender Team worked hand-in-hand with Trust and Safety and jumped into their next challenge of making machine learning and AI a reality for Helcim. The EQ and Finance Teams kept cool heads, working together despite all the pressure and stress, settling millions of dollars in transactions to merchants, one ACH and EFT at a time - now proudly showing “Helcim Inc.” on the bank statement for each of our merchants.

The Mobile & App Team poured themselves into continually improving the experience for merchants across all devices. The Commerce Team rebuilt, revamped, and improved our merchant platform relentlessly while finding the time to deliver new touchless and online features to help our merchants adapt through more waves of the pandemic. The Hub Team was formed on the spot and thrown in the deep end. And then shortly after they were asked to swim out even further into the treacherous waters of new hardware certifications - and they did it without hesitation. And despite a grueling pace in the run-up to our launch, the Marketing and Design Team never let their foot off the pedal. Through new videos, UIs, visuals, ads, and more, they stayed constant in their effort to find ways to creatively share our story with the world and improve the experience of our merchants. Meanwhile, the Legal Team navigated the challenges to ensure our company stayed safe.

All the while we grew our team by nearly 40%. Reviewing countless resumes, ensuring that we keep that magic that is the Helcim team alive as we grew. All of you happily stepped up and helped democratize our interview process, not shying away from the unknown but instead putting yourself front and center in ensuring that we kept bringing the best people to this organization. We made sure that each of those new people was able to be trained and ready to learn fast and jump into the fire with the rest of their peers.

We might have stepped into the storm young and unprepared, but we have come out wiser and carved out of wood. We chose as individuals and as a team to confront the storm, to confront our fears, and build something for ourselves. So to all of you, you are truly an amazing team, never forget what you’ve accomplished in 2020 and the courage that you showed in going through this experience.

It is now January, and a new year is upon us. As much as we’re all very ready to put 2020 behind us, the first half of 2021 is likely going to look like a continuation of the challenges we’ve already been facing. But we as a team do not need to fear - we are smarter, tougher, and more ready than ever to keep fighting and growing. We are better positioned to continue shaping the future into what we want it to be - surrounded by an amazing team to help us achieve it.

We’re going to keep building a great, big Calgary tech company, the Helcim way, together.

Welcome 2021, we’re ready for you.

-Nic