Last week at Toronto’s Venture Out conference, Dax Dasilva, founder and CEO of Lightspeed, gave a keynote presentation about the importance of diversity in the world of business. Venture Out, which was held at the MaRS Discovery District, saw hundreds of attendees who came together to discuss tech and entrepreneurship in the LGBTQA+ community.
Hosted by John Moore, Morning Show host at Newstalk 1010 Radio, the Q and A discussed Lightspeed including the benefits of diversity in the workplace, and how different points of view can enrich business. Mr. Dasilva described how Lightspeed was founded on diversity, and how it continues to see strength from its team members who come from a variety of backgrounds. Inclusiveness was the message of the day, with a message to attendees that success is possible with hard work and perseverance.
Mr. Dasilva would know — he founded Lightspeed more than a decade ago, growing the company that now boasts the most powerful cloud-based commerce solution for independent retail and restaurants, and is one of the fastest-growing tech companies in Canada. Lightspeed has been working with independent retailers and restaurants and the company’s aim is to support these businesses, which are integral to our economy and to communities. The diversity of the retail industry further lends itself to a uniqueness sometimes not found in larger, more ‘mainstream’ retail chains.
The fireside chat also highlighted Mr. Dasilva’s involvement in the community through Never Apart, his not-for-profit organization that aims to ignite positive social change and spiritual awareness through cultural programming
In the discussion, Mr. Dasilva described the benefits to being in Montreal, which is considered to be one of the world’s most progressive and inclusive cities. Montreal is also seeing a tech boom that is providing opportunities to individuals from all walks of life. Lightspeed’s gorgeous new headquarter offices are located in a restored heritage hotel in Old Montreal, featuring a mix of modern design and century-old materials.
Lightspeed supports independent businesses and their respective communities — for every dollar spent at an independent retailer, it’s estimated that between $5 and $14 is created in value to the local community. Supporting the local economy builds confidence in the community while enabling local businesses to prosper and grow, while the site claims that for every dollar spent at a national chain store, about 80% of the money “leaves town immediately”.
“The time is now for independents,” said Mr. Dasilva, going on to describe the advantage to being an independent retailer. "Small and medium-size retailers are more nimble — they have the ability to set up shop almost overnight and can easily navigate a transition from a solo brick-and-mortar presence, to an ecommerce and omnichannel platform. Omnichannel POS solutions like Lightspeed democratize the access for multiple sales channels, and smart independents are often the first to adopt new technology quickly,” he said.
More than 50,000 retailers and restaurateurs processing over $15 billion in transactions annually use Lightspeed to grow and manage their business. Founded in 2005 with offices in Canada, USA, and Europe, Lightspeed is backed by Accel Partners, iNovia Capital, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Investissement Québec (IQ). Lightspeed has evolved from four employees working in a small Montreal apartment to over 500, spread over 8 offices around the world, and according to Mr. Dasilva, it’s preparing for an IPO that is expected for some time next year.
Venture Out is Canada’s first conference for LGBTQA+ students and young professionals interested in careers in tech and entrepreneurship. Every year, they gather together with startups, speakers, and thought leaders from across Canada at MaRS Discovery District for workshops, receptions, panels, and networking opportunities.