Lightspeed POS Inc. founder and chief executive Dax Dasilva can now boast a total of $126-million (U.S.) in funding for his increasingly international company that provides point-of-sale technology to retailers.
But the source of the latest round of financing, not to mention a new home in downtown Montreal with lots of space for future expansion, also sends a strong message about his commitment to home turf.
A fresh $61-million investment announced Wednesday is co-led by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the province's investment arm Investissement Québec.
The funding – the third in Lightspeed's 10 years of existence – "could have come from many places," Mr. Dasilva said during an interview at the company's new digs in a renovated 117-year-old former railway station/hotel on the edge of Old Montreal.
"If we want to have a set of strong Canadian tech companies we need great support like that from the Caisse, Investissement Québec, OMERS and others."
"This round of investment shows we are here to stay," said Mr. Dasilva, whose company's previous investors include high-profile Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel Partners.
His goal is for privately held Lightspeed to become Montreal's first so-called "unicorn" – a tech firm boasting a $1-billion valuation, not unlike the recent experience of Shopify Inc. of Ottawa, which also provides point-of-sale systems to retailers.
"We really believe the soul of the company is right here in Montreal," says the 39-year-old Mr. Dasilva, who launched Lightspeed in the city in 2005 after moving here from Vancouver, where he developed the first iteration of software to help retailers process transactions, manage inventory, track sales and crunch customer behaviour.
At the same time, Mr. Dasilva has his eye on major growth opportunities in Europe, after last year's acquisition of Belgium's Posios, a provider of mobile point-of-sale systems for restaurants and bars.
Mr. Dasilva is also counting on upcoming changes in the United States that will force merchants to adopt chip technology or else find themselves liable for fraudulent transactions on outdated magnetic stripe cards.
"This is a good opportunity for retailers to go to cloud-based, digitally integrated systems," Mr. Dasilva said about the new regime, dubbed the Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) liability shift.
The cash from Lightspeed's latest funding round is earmarked for global growth, technology infrastructure upgrades and investment in the company's expanding "multichannel" systems, which offer integrated platforms across such channels as online, mobile and in-store.
The company says more than 25,000 businesses in 100 countries, processing over $10-billion in transactions per year, use Lightspeed's mobile point-of-sale and commerce platforms for everything from inventory control and customer preferences to sales and big-picture analytics.
Mr. Dasilva says the company is profitable but declines to provide figures. The target is a doubling of the size of business every year, he said. As for the possibility of a public offering: "Whether we stay private for a certain amount of years or if the timing is right for an IPO, that's a few years out."
From its days as a modest startup in 2005, Lightspeed has grown to about 350 employees, 210 of them in the Montreal office with the rest in other locations, including London, Ghent and California.
"I think we're going to have a pretty busy two years," Mr. Dasilva said. "The last three years, we've been in hyperdrive."