Start-Up Stories Chris Gregg of Lightyear

Jenny Ervine from Raise had a great talk with Chris Gregg of Lightyear about the company’s journey so far and plans for the future.

Learn more about Lightyear |  https://www.lightyear.cloud/

What is Lightyear?
A B2B procurement and accounts payable automation solution built in the cloud.

Where did the Lightyear idea come from?
Chris identified a market need for a mid-market size business focused solution.

Tell us about getting started at Lightyear?
As a non-tech founder, Chris focused on creating a strong team to help build a product that solved a big pain point and was something that customers would pay for.

How did start to grow Lightyear?
As the company started to grow the team realized that B2B was going to be a longer sales cycle, but fast-tracked this by selling to people they knew in their network. Chris also chats about bootstrapping as much as possible and not worrying about investment rounds, however recognises if capital can help then take it at the right time.

What brought you back to Belfast?
A combination of factors of selling to and then working with Intuit in San Francisco. Then wanting to move home to be close to family and start another business.

What’s next for Lightyear?
The company is keen to expand to different geographic areas such as North America and Canada. However, Chris and Jenny talked about how important it is for founders to stick to their vision for growth and the different ways to do this either organically or through investment.

Any learnings from Lightyear you would like to pass on?
Pick the right team and culture, as a founder will likely spend more time with their team than their family. Be focused on the bigger picture and build for that rather than service work.

How do you plan for the future?
Make sure the company has a good buffer to look after the team and culture in the business as you can’t afford to lose them.

How do you make it a global product?
Focus on building a product for commonwealth countries and then adjust accordingly for local destinations. Working with partners to help reach a bigger audience.

How do you skill up as a CEO?
It’s a steep learning curve, you’ll find yourself incorporating new skills like marketing, sales and product – things you’ve never done before, bring in a good team to help. Read lots of books, live the journey and always learn.

What are the challenges to raising investment in NI?
NI needs a few good news stories that can help the next generation of startups and a better joined up ecosystem of support.

What advice do you give to someone breaking into US?
It’s expensive to do business there and treat each state like a country so break it down and do it slowly. Understand the culture and buying patterns and sell accordingly.

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