Michael Gokturk

CEO, Payfirma Corporation

Less than two years ago, Michael Gokturk took the company he founded in 2005 public, then lost control.

The company was Versapay, which went public in January 2010.

“I started realizing that my ability to innovate and drive innovation forward was being stifled by a board,” he said. “I lost control of my own company.”

Gokturk left Versapay and started Payfirma Corporation, which provides a range of electronic payment processing and e-commerce services, including a new mobile-payment system that turns iPhones, iPads or BlackBerrys into credit card readers.

“We’ve uncovered a massive greenfield market in Canada,” Gokturk said. “People that have never accepted credit cards before: wedding photographers, roofers, plumbers.”

The company also plans to launch an app that will allow people to cash and deposit cheques with their smartphones.

Born in Turkey, Gokturk came to Canada when he was just two, and grew up in Calgary, Oakville and Texas (his father worked in the oil industry).

After his family moved back to Canada, Gokturk got an economics degree at the University of Calgary. He got a job as an investment adviser with PI Financial Corp. at the age of 22.

The firm eventually sent him to Vancouver, where he ended up doing a law degree by correspondence, then got promoted to investment banker taking companies public.

When Gokturk left PI Financial in 2005, one of PI’s founders wrote the first cheque to help him start his own company.

Payfirma started with two employees, which has grown to close to 40, and is “on track to do over $2 million in revenue.” •