Written by Scott Thompson
Jerome Laredo is vice president - EMEA and Asia at Lightspeed POS, a cloud PoS platform provider for retailers and restaurants, which recently secured $61 million in funding co-led by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Investissement Québec (IQ), alongside existing investors Accel Partners and iNovia Capital. This brought its total funding to date to $126 million. The cash will be used to support the company’s global growth, technology infrastructure enhancements and overall omnichannel offering. Currently more than 25,000 customers in 100-plus countries use Lightspeed, processing over $10 billion annually.
Retail Systems: How did you get into the technology sector?
Jerome Laredo: I have always liked technology from a very young age, tinkering with the first Commodore and Apple computers. I studied in business but always with a view to be involved in the technology space. My experience in technology includes global brand names such as Rockwell, TATA Communications and NStein Technologies. I was always attracted to technology and leapt at the change to forge a career in this field. After working in the sector for many years I have an ‘insider’s’ insight into the IT industry and an understanding of how changes in consumer behaviour, brought about by technology, impacts business success.
RS: Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
JL: My biggest influence has to be my dad. He is an engineer and has run his own company for 35 years and still does to this day at the age of 74. I also admire Richard Branson, I like his fearlessness and brilliance.
RS: Who in the sector inspires you and why?
JL: In general I really love the retail and the hospitality sector and know many inspirational people who work in it. I see these sectors as social spaces and really key in bringing cities to life. Retail and hospitality are the foundation of commerce, very raw and basic at times but should never be overlooked as they are very essential.
RS: Which IT professional do you most admire?
JL: Some of the most inspirational IT professionals do their best work away from the spotlight. But that’s not always the case. Lightspeed’s founder is a techie but he is outgoing and an ambassador for technology – especially in retail and hospitality. I enjoy reading about great technology innovators, like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Salman Kahn, people that have really shaped the world we live in now. Often the smallest technology advances can affect the world and I’m equally impressed by some of the technologies coming out of the developing world that are designed on a shoe-string but have enormous impact.
RS: Is there anything that you dislike or that frustrates you about the sector?
JL: The retail sector is robust – it needs to be. The daily challenges of running a shop or restaurant would put professionals from other sectors into a cold sweat. As for frustration, the sector is very good at coping and adapting – perhaps sometimes they could group together to demand support as a sector or work as a group to improve the disparity between big brands and the High Street.
RS: What technology can't you live without?
JL: I definitely couldn’t live without my iPhone, my Kindle and my Bose noise cancellation headphones. Whether for work or pleasure, it’s my lifeline. As I am constantly travelling for work, I like being able to video chat with my wife and daughters from wherever I am in the world.
RS: How do you relax?
JL: I have a variety of hobbies such as cycling, reading and sailing – I’m a qualified yachtmaster. However, my favourite activity is spending time with my kids - I love travelling with them and seeing places through their eyes.
RS: What was your last retail experience both online and on the High Street and were they positive experiences?
JL: For everyday products I like to shop online and I have to say, I am amazed at how advanced the UK market is compared to the rest of Europe. However, I still enjoy going to specialty clothing shops where the owner has a real sense of fashion and has a good selection of hand picked items from various brands. I strongly believe this type of retail in-store experience has a great future especially when combined with a solid online presence.