Inside Lightspeed’s Multi-Pronged Growth Strategy

If you focused on media coverage only, you might think that Lightspeed exclusively grows through acquisitions. While buying companies is a core part of the strategy, it’s only one prong of many. JD St. Martin, the Chief Revenue and Chief Customer Officer at Lightspeed, knows this all too well. Speaking with SAAS NORTH, JD shared an inside look into Lightspeed’s multi-pronged growth strategy.

Key takeaways:  

  • Successful growth is about finding ways different pieces fit together and support each other.
  • Don’t acquire until you have a rubric to evaluate how an acquired business will help your overall vision.
  • All growth plans should focus on how you can better serve customers.

For years, Lightspeed has focused on growth, and it worked. Through both its massive IPO and multiple acquisitions, analysts are starting to ponder how Lightspeed might dominate the global commerce industry. But looking into Lightspeed’s growth strategy reveals far more than simply buying companies and hoping for the best. Speaking with SAAS NORTH, JD St. Martin - the Chief Revenue and Chief Customer Officer - explained the multiple prongs of Lightspeed’s growth strategy.

Organic growth strategies

From Lightspeed’s first product - a point of sale (POS) system and SaaS software for merchants - the company focused on organic growth tactics. As it raised rounds of capital and built out the team from its Montreal headquarters, the company leveraged both outbound and inbound tactics.

Sales development reps: The company built out a sales development rep (SDR) team to ensure there was consistent outreach to merchants looking for new POS solutions.

Content marketing: The company invested heavily in educational blog content, free tools, and use-case web pages that made it easy for customers to find Lightspeed online.

Paid advertising: Lightspeed has an extensive paid advertising presence that helps them connect with more merchants online.

“The playbook was pretty clear from the start — double down on what you’re already doing,” said JD.

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Acquisition-led growth

Lightspeed is known as an acquisitive company, regularly making headlines for high-value acquisitions. According to JD, the company acquires for three reasons:

1. Regional expansion: Instead of trying to make inroads to a new geographic market organically, Lightspeed purchased strong regional players. JD said this was the strategy behind acquisitions such as Kounta in Australia and New Zealand, Vend in Asia Pacific, and other players across Europe.

2. Market expansion: In areas where Lightspeed already operates, they may acquire companies to strengthen their presence or move into a different segment. This reason was actually how JD joined Lightspeed when it acquired his company, Chronogolf.

3. Technology expansion: JD said that the company doesn’t just pay attention to market expansion, but also product growth. For that reason, they also acquire companies with high quality technology that can integrate with and add to the overall Lightspeed platform.

The key to successful acquisitions at Lightspeed, said JD, is two-fold: That the company has an acquisitions team to help ensure a smooth transition (both culturally and technology-wise), and that the company doesn’t acquire to own an asset, but to help the acquired company grow even further in the Lightspeed ecosystem.

“We have a team within Lightspeed that handles the post-acquisition process to ensure integration, a corporate development team to look at the wide range of companies we might acquire, and we’re constantly consulting business leaders to get a good take on opportunities for the future,” said JD.

Synergistic growth

While growth through traditional tactics and acquisitions helped Lightspeed get to scale, it could have caused an issue where acquired companies operated like silos within the organization. To avoid this, JD shared how Lightspeed seeks synergies across the customer experience.

Product-integration led growth: Whenever Lightspeed builds or acquires a new product, there’s an opportunity to add other Lightspeed features into the product. While JD said this is not a requirement, it becomes a “natural evolution” of each feature or acquired company as it matures within the ecosystem.

JD shared the example of his own company, now called Lightspeed Golf. When he operated it independently as Chronogolf, they integrated with Lightspeed POS. After joining Lightspeed, opportunities arose to integrate Lightspeed’s other features including things like loyalty for golf and accounting services.

Matrixed leadership: Lightspeed organizes its leadership with functional leaders across a product vertical, regional leaders in a geography, and industry leaders across business types. These three leaders are constantly learning more about their customers and products, which JD said opens up huge collaboration opportunities.

“There’s so much collaboration between the dimensions of leadership, which helps find synergies with our products,” said JD.

Growth is just the beginning 

With new acquisitions and fresh financing for growth activities, Lightspeed isn’t showing any signs of slowing down the growth train. Looking back at the strategy to date and looking ahead at what’s to come, JD said that the company’s real strength isn’t in having the cash to acquire, but having the vision to see what ideas will fit together and click for their customers, whether that’s another acquisition, new product builds, or other growth tactics.

“We’re still writing the early chapters of the Lightspeed book, so there’s plenty more upside and opportunity to help business owners,” said JD.

JD will be sharing more growth strategies at SAAS NORTH on November 17th and 18th. Get tickets HERE.

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