This is one of those investments where Accel finds an already-successful company that has been bootstrapping for several years, if not longer. (The most recent announcement was Qualtrics, a 10-year-old data collection and analysis company.) LightSpeed was founded in 2005, and its services are supposedly used by almost 10,000 retailers. Last year, Profit Magazine named it the fastest-growing company in Quebec, thanks to revenue that grew a total of 2,000 percent over the previous five years.
Accel partner Ryan Sweeney, who is joining the LightSpeed board, says in the press release that the company is “helping solve the most crucial issue facing retailers today: creating an in-store experience exciting enough to compete against e-commerce.” Founder and CEO Dax Dasilva tells me that means offering software for Macs, iPads, and iPhones that combines the services that retailers need to manage their business (like payment processing and inventory management) with features that make for a more engaging shopping experience.
For example, one of LightSpeed’s features is called Show and Tell, which allows salespeople to use the iPad show off related products that be not be available on the selling floor. This means you get the large inventory and detailed info that you’d find on an e-commerce site, combined with the “human touch” of a salesperson, Dasilva says.
As for spending the investment money, it sounds like DaSilva plans to grow on virtually every front. LightSpeed will be opening new offices, including one in New York. It will be internationalizing the software. It will be adding to the product. And DaSilva hopes to bring large, national retailers to its customer base. Big names like Adidas and Vespa are already customers, but usage isn’t always widespread (Adidas uses LightSpeed specifically for its pop-up stores), and DaSilva says the LightSpeed’s sweet spot are “hip, innovative” retailers, usually chains with between two and 15 stores.