Xsilva Systems rings up the sale with OpenBase SQL
Dax Dasilva, founder and CEO of Xsilva Systems, Inc., identifies with the aspirations of the retailers who buy his company's LightSpeed point-of-sale (POS) software--a ground-breaking suite of front-counter, back-office and e-commerce retail tools that run on the Apple Macintosh platform.
"Many of our customers are opening their first store," he says. "They're enthusiastic about the merchandise they're going to sell, but they also really want the independence that comes from owning your own business. In a way, we're helping them fulfill their dream."
It's a dream Dasilva knows well. He worked for years as a consultant and developer before being able to start his own company in 2005. Now when Dasilva goes to work, it's in the fast-growing company's sleek, new headquarters--a three-story building in downtown Montreal with "Xsilva" spelled out in large, gleaming silver letters.
Building on an OpenBase SQL foundation
From the beginning, the company's LightSpeed POS has been built on the OpenBase SQL database, says Dasilva. "In fact one of the very first retail systems I worked on while at another company was based on OpenBase."
When that company went under, Dasilva decided to strike out on his own. "I had a good understanding of what retailers needed and I could see how to architect it better," he says.
One of the things he didn't change, however, was the database. Dasilva was already thinking big and he understood the critical role the database would play in the POS he envisioned.
"I chose OpenBase because it was an industrial-strength, high-performance database on the Mac platform that could handle many, many simultaneous users--and because OpenBase had many built-in features to keep the customer's critical financial and transaction data absolutely protected and secure."
Dasilva developed his first POS, a quoting and invoicing system for a small, independent Apple dealership, in 2002. Over time, he added more functionality--such as purchasing, service and repair, and a seamless connection to Apple's warranty servers--to meet the dealer's needs. As word spread, he gained additional Apple dealer customers. In July 2005, Dasilva took his product to Macworld Boston, where he met with the Apple Specialist Marketing Co-op (ASMC), a group of independent retailers across North America. Soon he was taking orders from Apple dealerships across the U.S. and Canada.
"LightSpeed became the standard for Apple resellers. What's nice is that these resellers also became our dealer channel. And because they used LightSpeed to run their own business, they really understood the product," says Dasilva.
Today, there are more than 270 Authorized LightSpeed Resellers in 20 countries, in addition to the company's own direct sales team.
Dasilva's vision, however, was to build a next-generation POS for all kinds of retailers. In October 2005, with the POS successfully running in a furniture store in Montreal and a spa in Vancouver, as well as in Apple dealerships, the Xsilva Systems company officially launched LightSpeed 1.0.
Today, retail stores account for about 80% of Xsilva Systems business. Clothing and apparel retailers comprise the majority of customers, while lifestyle retailers, selling everything from sporting goods to wine, make up the company's second major segment. Electronics retailers, including Apple dealerships, make up the third.
"LightSpeed covers all aspects of retail," says Dasilva. "It handles everything that the back office has to do--such as maintain inventory, process orders, and export to accounting--and everything the front counter has to do, to ring through sales as fast as possible."
A big part of LightSpeed's appeal is the way it leverages Mac technologies to provide a visual elegance that fits perfectly into stylish new retail establishments. Its Cover Flow Interface GUI, for example, makes working with LightSpeed as fun and easy as using an iPhone.
What's under the hood is just as important, says Dasilva, including the way OpenBase SQL reliability and performance enables retailers to track and manage all aspects of their business.
"Everything about the person's business is in this software," says Dasilva. "OpenBase takes all sorts of precautions to make sure that data is protected and bad data is never written to the database. We have thousands of stores running on LightSpeed, and outside of hardware failure, we've never had any problem with the database, or any corrupted data in three years."
A database to grow on
The LightSpeed POS has been surpassing the adoption rates of competing retail systems for a while now--and in the past 18 months, Xsilva Systems monthly revenue run rate has almost doubled.
The company will continue to extend the capabilities of the LightSpeed POS in many ways, says Dasilva. Recently, for example, the company introduced a LightSpeed Web Store module with that make it easy for retailers to take their store product catalog online and enter the world of e-commerce.
"Another big direction for us is multi-store, making it easier for people to manage multiple stores," says Dasilva. "It's the goal of most of our customers to own at least a few stores, to be able to buy in greater volume and have greater economies-of-scale on their side. We currently have many chains up and running on LightSpeed and multi-store features and implementations will be a big focus for Xsilva in the coming years.
"OpenBase and the technologies that come with OpenBase have enabled us to easily scale our single database solution across multiple databases and across multiple stores," says Dasilva. "That's something we wouldn't have been able to do with other databases, or not as easily. "
"We're very satisfied with OpenBase SQL," says Dasilva. "Our developer kit for certified LightSpeed consultants is based around a lot of OpenBase technologies. And since we run our own business on LightSpeed, we're relying on OpenBase SQL, too."
"The support we've received from OpenBase over the years has been very responsive. I can't think of a developer-oriented software company that's as responsive," he says, adding that OpenBase has an active developer community that is also very valuable.
"Attending an OpenBase Developers' Conference years ago actually helped me start my own business and the LightSpeed project. I learned things and made contacts there that were really critical to the early success of the company."