Behind Every Store, There's a Story – Dax Dasilva of LightSpeed
Walk into any boutique, and you will sense a distinct personality. Like a miniature world of its own, a well-designed store draws you in and ignites your imagination. The minimal and modern ones might evoke space-aged innovation, while a store designed to look shabby-chic can conjure memories of your favorite aunt’s reading room. Whether opulent or decidedly quaint, retail stores can provide shoppers with memorable and entertaining experiences, not unlike a theatrical performance.
While a store may be a stage, it begs the question; who is running the show? Who is the wizard behind the curtain who can create a fantastical world in a 20×40 foot concrete space off a busy street in Manhattan? Many entrepreneurs in the retail industry are as unique as the stores they started. If you ask how they got into the retail business, you might discover a staggering number of varying answers, from stories of family-owned shops, to chance encounters and serendipitous discoveries. No matter the backstory, there is a driving force behind every individual who takes a risk and opens a business: passion.
Almost everyone has a dream, but not everyone has the passion and the courage to actually bring that dream to fruition. LightSpeed is a huge advocate of entrepreneurs with enough boldness to realize their dreams. We’re interested in everything from humble beginnings, to spectacular success, and everything in between. In this series, we seek to inspire those who are interested in starting or growing their own business by sharing the stories of our customers. LightSpeed’s own beginnings are as humble as anyone else’s; CEO Dax Dasilva worked tirelessly to achieve his dreams, and this passion and drive is at the core of who this company seeks to support.
As a 9 year old, Dax believed computers were magic. More specifically, he was enamored with the Macs his graphic designer father would bring home for him to use. He was impressed with the Mac’s graphical user interface in comparison to the DOS commands most people struggled with at the time on PCs. With his own Apple computer (a gift for his twelfth birthday), Dax began programming. After getting a great start as an apprentice at a Mac software company, followed by years of consulting and development projects, he eventually ended up in Montreal at the largest Apple dealership in Canada. For the next two-and-a-half years, Dax worked on a program that would manage four stores with a visually appealing, user-friendly interface that brought simplicity to serious retail tasks.
A major roadblock arose when the company fell apart due to unrelated legal issues, and Dax’s program was left locked-away in the legal jumble. It seemed that his years of toiling had gone to waste, and it left him feeling completely disillusioned with software development in general. In the months following this event, Dax began learning to DJ and explored other interests. His attitude towards his former work was somewhat tainted, but his passion for creating beautiful programs never completely faded.
It wasn’t long before Dax began hearing from some former associates about how much they missed using his system. He realized there was demand for his work, and this time, he began programming for himself. Fueled by Tim Hortons’ french vanilla coffees, he worked day and night from his studio apartment to build an invoicing and quoting program from scratch. The trials and errors of his last efforts helped him build an all-new program that wowed a large group of Apple dealers at a meeting in Boston. It was all uphill from this point, and from the initial Xsilva Systems arose LightSpeed.
While LightSpeed’s success could be partially attributed to the technology boom and the rise of Apple, the company today stems from Dax’s passion for programming streamlined software. Today, LightSpeed’s headquarters itself reflects his taste for sleek and contemporary visuals. Ultimately, Dax’s vision was always very simple: “I wanted to create something out of nothing that would help fellow business owners run their dream store and actually enjoy the experience.”
Starting a business is a daunting venture, and there are almost always some roadblocks, as Dax can certainly tell you. Every business including retail stores has a unique background, and if you dig deep enough, there is always a story about a dream, and the passion it took to realize it. This series is all about sharing stories, with the intention to inspire you each week with a new tale of success.