After being founded over a year ago, Lightyear announced on Tuesday it has raised a total of $3.7 million for the launch of its software platform that helps businesses buy and manage their telecom and IT infrastructure online.
New York City-based Lightyear's recent seed round was led by Amplo with participation from Susa Ventures, Ludlow Ventures, Mark Cuban, David Adelman, and operator partners including the founders of Flatiron Health.
Lightyear has a roster of more than 400 telecom and IT service providers that it works with. Using its software and web portal, Lightyear enables businesses to outsource and automate their procurement for services such as dedicated internet access, VoIP/UCaaS, SD-WAN, colocation, MPLS, and VoIP.
While there are similar offerings from managed service providers and other vendors, those are largely provisioned offline or by direct-to-order purchasing, according to Lightyear CEO Dennis Thankachan. Currently, the purchasing process to buy a single dedicated access to the internet (DIA) circuit is slow and cumbersome. Implementation of the services can also be a hassle for businesses.
Contrary to the current marketplace, Lightyear's goal is to build an online customer relationship management system for network infrastructure.
"We help customers easily configure services, get pricing, manage their implementations, and keep their network inventory organized in our web platform," said Thankachan, who co-founded the company with CTO Ryan Schrack. "Vendors actually interact directly with the customers once engaged. Our objective is to help customers have a transparent, more e-commerce-like experience as they procure their network infrastructure."
"We help telecom providers get more customers while spending fewer cycles selling those customers. Meanwhile, customers benefit from a streamlined, vendor agnostic experience. We gather lots of valuable data that we believe will help telecom providers as a whole better serve their customers, and customers better navigate the complex provider universe."
While Lightyear is relatively new, Thankachan said it has hundreds of business users to date including Lime, Curology, Roadrunner Transportation, Hack Reactor, TenantBase and Status.io. Thankachan said Lightyear works with AT&T, Lumen, SD-WAN vendor BigLeaf Networks and wholesale carriers such as New Horizon, among others.
"Most customers still go through a highly manual procurement and renewal process involving lots of phone calls and emails. We're changing that," Thankachan said. "Some customers utilize agents, but that experience is also primarily offline."
Lightyear plans to use the funding to accelerate its product development with a focus on network planning, management and inventory capabilities. Lightyear, which has global vendor relationships and capabilities, currently has 10 employees, but Thankachan said the company would double and triple the number of its employees over the next year.
As for how Mark Cuban, who is the owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, became involved, Thankachan said one of the investors put him touch with Cuban's team.
"The fact that I'm from Dallas and a long-time Mavericks fan probably helped as well," he said