From Belfast, via Sydney, to the world leaders in software in a Lightyear!
Lightyear is a multi-award-winning global financial technology company founded by two Irish entrepreneurial brothers, Chris and Roger Gregg, in 2017.
Based in Belfast, the company has resisted the fintech trend by declining external financing offers.
Instead, the brothers organically developed a successful global Procure to Pay platform that was recently recognized as the best accounts payable solution for customer satisfaction, value for money, and ease of use. by Gartner, Capterra, GetApp and Software Advice. Not bad for a three-year-old startup.
The brothers are anything but your typical fintech founders. Born in Northern Ireland, they found themselves living together in Sydney, Australia, in 2009. It was there, while working in operational roles in a hotel group, that they had their light bulb moment.
Without any experience in software development, they embarked on their first fintech adventure, determined to shake up the world of accounts payable with the world’s first access point automation platform, invitbox. By their own admission, from those early days of cloud fintech, they could write a book on how not to start a startup, but after a lot of blood, sweat and tears, the brothers and their co-founders have created a market. flagship product they sold to the US accounting center Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU) in 2014.
Fast forward to 2017, and after a few years of working with Intuit in Sydney and Silicon Valley, Chris realized that SMBs and midsize businesses still lacked an intuitive, feature-rich option for automate accounts payable. The market was wide open for an affordable AP automation platform.
Today, the overall cost of processing an invoice is still as high as $ 15 and it takes an average of 40 days to complete. The Payables Insight 2019 report highlights that only 27% of midsize businesses and 14% of SMEs use an automation solution in their accounts payable function.
Chris explained, âMost companies don’t realize the real costs of their AP process. Many time-consuming tasks like manual entry, approvals, and error handling don’t show up in a company’s income statement, but the cost is there, buried in rows, and affects the bottom line. âIssues like duplicate or fraudulent payments, manual data entry and lost / damaged vendor documents are issues that all businesses face. After creating our first product to be solved initially for the hospitality industry, it became clear that these industry issues were the same as those in retail, manufacturing, construction, healthcare, hospitality, and hospitality. education and virtually every other industry.
âGlobal infrastructure developments over the past decade have made global markets much more accessible for SaaS companies to evolve into service. We kind of woke up one morning and realized that we were sitting on a huge global opportunity, and we were well equipped with our previous experiences and networks, to build a strong product and business.
Over the past two years, Lightyear has rapidly evolved from a product offering data mining with an approval workflow, to being the world’s leading AP platform offering all of this plus sourcing, approvals mobile devices and synchronization with major ERP, accounting and inventory systems.
This has allowed SMBs and midsize businesses to consolidate their accounting, invoice approvals, and purchasing into one easy-to-manage system. There’s a lot of industry anticipation and excitement surrounding the next version of Lightyear’s feature – a line-by-line automatic purchase order to match invoices.
Chris continued, âLarge enterprises and multi-site businesses in particular need the control and security of a purchase order system to ensure that supplier orders are released and approved appropriately, and within budget. But the disconnect between their purchase order data and the supplier’s invoice data means that too much time and money is spent reconciling their purchase orders with the supplier’s invoices, and furthermore with their received goods notes. ‘they buy stock. We’re launching what we believe is a world first for Cloud AP: fully automated line-by-line purchase orders for invoice matching. We’ve heard loud and clear that threesome is the most expensive and time consuming buying task for large companies. We’re excited to revolutionize this process for businesses around the world. “
As the pandemic took hold, Lightyear saw its growth accelerate in its main markets of the United States and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United Kingdom. ‘South Africa. Remote collaboration platforms like Lightyear have never been more important to a business’s ability to survive and thrive. Lightyear’s customer list is already impressive with more than 3,500 companies processing more than US $ 500 million in invoices each month on five continents.
Less than two years after the launch of Lightyear, the team has taken some impressive steps:
Processing over $ 10 billion of invoices and 10 million documents
Saved over a million hours of manual data entry by customers
Saved over 10,000 trees
The company is particularly proud of the impact of its paperless solution on the planet and the removal of the paper accounts payable process is one of its BHAGs.
From 2019 to 2021, Lightyear has both won and been nominated for numerous awards, from Global Sourcing Award, Accounting Excellence Award and Gartner FrontRunners to Capterra AP Shortlists and GetApp and Software Advice Category Leaders.
Chris explained, âThese victories are a great honor because not only are they awarded by some of the most recognized and trusted research organizations, but also because we could not have earned them if all of our fantastic clients hadn’t. had not shared their honest opinions about our product. ”
Lightyear is a proudly started success story, and fueled by impressive early growth figures, they are now accelerating customer acquisition across the globe, fueled by organic revenue growth.
âIt was an innovative approach for a fintech start-up, but we decided to support each other and put our own money on the line. We knew how to quickly create a product, a product that added a lot of customer value, by creating features that we could monetize quickly. We were limited in the development of our products and focused on providing the most important benefits first, which allowed us to recover quickly. We are so happy that we were able to create a product that values ââsmall businesses, and even more proud when we surpassed annual recurring revenue of $ 1 million in our first 15 months. And now, 30 months later, we’ve more than doubled that number on a modest budget. We think we’ve done a lot of the work being smart with the funds, and the early success now puts us in a very good position to start expanding our teams around the world and putting more rocket fuel in the tank. The opportunity ahead is huge, with some estimates placing cloud access point penetration at less than 4% in the United States. “
Chris goes on to say that the company has repeatedly responded to requests from venture capitalists and private equity firms looking to help fund the business with multi-million dollar bills: âAccounts payable are on the rise. burning right now with other companies in our space fundraising or quoting at 50x income multiples. It’s really tempting to take funds to accelerate growth, but we have now reached a natural inflection point with our revenue growth where our growth is now able to fund companies’ global growth plans organically.
âThere is a dangerous ‘Boom or Bust’ mindset within FinTech that can lead to excessive risk-taking, but we pride ourselves on delivering a customer-centric business that is here for the long haul, and we find that we can still grow rapidly. without a massive warlord. That said, we are still assessing whether and when may be the right time to take out external funding. “
Since its creation, Lightyear has continued to grow, they are now key players in several major markets. The company aims for new partnerships with Sage and Microsoft Dynamics in the near future and plans are underway to put teams in the field in the United States and Canada as well as a dynamic expansion of teams in the United Kingdom and Australia. .
Chris added, âThere are 40 million companies in our immediate target markets, and we don’t plan on hanging around. Our ambition is to be the first Procure to Pay cloud solution in all our target markets within three years. In a remote world, where rich data automation becomes an expectation rather than a luxury, we have all the makings to make it happen.
âGood software shouldn’t be difficult. The Lightyear approach is simple: build great products, great teams and always respect our customers. Everything else will fall into place. “
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