Authors: Chris & Roger Gregg
- USD $3 trillion - The estimated cost to business of manually processing supplier bills each year.
- 150 billion - B2B bills processed worldwide annually.
- 40 days - The average time to process a supplier bill.
- 50% of supplier bills are paid late.
Those are staggering statistics. Accounts Payable is still living in the dark ages - slow, costly and error-ridden.
In 2018, the majority of bills sent B2B still make their way via snail mail in paper format, or by email, and they still require manual entry into Accounting, Inventory and ERP systems. For businesses needing detailed line-by-line data, the costs and inefficiencies are even greater with the data often requiring cross-checking and data-entry into multiple systems.
We (Chris & Roger) grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It’s a city that built the world’s most famous unsinkable ship, the world’s most famous time-machine, and more recently has been the home of the production of the world-famous GOT (Game of Thrones). In fact, Lightyear’s global head office is adjacent to the Titanic slipway and the Game of Thrones production set, in Belfast’s Catalyst Innovation Centre. We are surrounded by creativity and industry, and it is infectious and inspiring.
We both moved to Sydney around 10 years ago and found ourselves managing product-based businesses in the hospitality sector. They were great times, but whilst the businesses were flourishing, their internal drive for efficiency was being stymied by bill-shuffling for approvals, price-checking, data-entry and filing cabinets. Accounts Payable overheads were seen in the same light as death and taxes - inevitable. Alternatives to having someone manually processing bills seem to be reserved for the big end of town. Any ‘paperless’ office or Accounts Payable automation solution started their sales-pitch with ‘Okay, so you get your paper, and then...’
Wait, this can’t be right - the world’s leading ‘paperless’ solutions all required businesses to keep receiving paper? It was a lightbulb moment for us.
So, we set out to create a solution to allow businesses to process bills from any supplier without them needing to receive a paper bill. Within a year we had launched Invitbox. 15 months later Invitbox was Xero Australia’s emerging add-on of the year, and within months we had been acquired by Intuit. It was a crazy journey - the ride of our lives.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, once said ‘If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.’ He was right, as he often is.
We fall in love with customers' problems, not our solutions. A lot of our old Invitbox customers are still our acquaintances and a number have become our friends; and it was, in part, conversations with them that inspired us to create Lightyear - to continue and improve on what we started back in 2011. The same customer-focus that drove us with Invitbox is what drives us now with Lightyear.
Technology has advanced a lot since we developed Invitbox in 2011, neither of us could have expected that just 8 months after our first line of code was written, we would be sitting on the eve of our launch with such an advanced product. Big kudos to our CTO, Gareth Burns, and his development team for their commitment and talent which has delivered world-class software in a true agile startup culture.
These last months have been some of the most intense, exhausting, demanding and rewarding of our lives. We have been fortunate to find a team of amazing people to work with - some old familiar faces, and some new ones. And to each of them, their families, and to our own, we say thank you.
Today, Lightyear has 20 staff across the UK and Australia; Lightyear is open for beta-registrations in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and we will launch in full by the end of August. Our journey is only just beginning.
What is Lightyear?
Lightyear is a SaaS solution which automates and streamlines the Accounts Payable process using proprietary AI and machine learning technology.
Built on a cutting-edge cloud platform, Lightyear’s intuitive system instantly extracts product codes, description, quantity and tax rates from electronic bills with 100% accuracy and price-checks each product purchased against agreed supplier pricing. The bill then enters a robust approvals workflow connecting Accounts Payables teams with the relevant Approvers. All suppliers are asked to do is email their standard bill format to their customers' unique Lightyear email address.
Other key features include statement reconciliation, multi-currency handling, and online storage for the regulatory period in an intuitive searchable filing cabinet.
Lightyear integrates seamlessly, via API, with all leading cloud-accounting software, as well as inventory and POS software providers - removing the need for data-entry into multiple systems.
Target market - Who’s it for?
Lightyear is designed for businesses of all sizes that require detailed line by line data-extraction from bills, and/or an intuitive approvals process. Some of the industries in which we excel include retail, hospitality, construction, mining, manufacturing, healthcare and education.
Our Partner Program is designed to offer flexibility for the different business models used by Accounting and Bookkeeping firms. We have two models which both offer premium support, training and various value add’s for our partners to help on-board and manage their client base with Lightyear.
Lightyear is open for Beta registrations today.
We are launching at Xerocon Brisbane on 5-6 September 2018 and we are really excited to see everyone's reaction to our product. Let us know if you are coming to Xerocon by filling out our registration form and we will contact you to arrange a coffee whilst there.