When you’re a leader, you have to build a culture that’s not just resilient, but that focuses on the power of perseverance in order to navigate the highs and lows for yourself and your team.

FAVORITE DISH: Vegetarian Lasagna or vegetarian pizza. A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: Seeing individual change makers in the world. The power of individuals to make an impact (David Suzuki, Paul Watson). SOMEONE I ADMIRE: Jane Goodall

Dax Dasilva

Having faith in creating systems to help others thrive

BUILDING AN INCLUSIVE CULTURE. Over sixteen years ago, Dax Dasilva saw the clear intersection between a company’s physical presence and their digital strategies, and he could provide value by knitting them together for companies. “At first, I was just focused on helping small and medium-sized businesses organize the complexity of their inventories using smart software with the simplest of interfaces. People want to navigate their businesses, not struggle with them,” Dax explains.

This led him to the creation of Lightspeed, a digital interface designed for companies and entrepreneurs to manage their physical and digital businesses through a single system—rather than the siloed systems of yesteryear. “At first it was just about being a really good omni-channel commerce platform. But, after the first decade in the game, the nature of digital commerce and social media leapt forward quickly, often leaving the smaller guys behind.”

Dasilva and his team then built arms of the company that focused on promoting and connecting companies to their customers, in addition to the management of a company’s payments, analytics, and accounting—which Lightspeed still does for their clients. “My goal has always been to help build resilient businesses, ones that are future-proof,” Dasilva says. “With the pandemic hitting small and mid-sized businesses, this has become more important than ever.” Today, Lightspeed serves 140,000 merchants—and growing.

Everyone who sits at the Lightspeed table has a voice that’s accepted and appreciated. “We don’t just want our clients to thrive, we want our employees to do the same. That’s been intrinsic in our values and has undeniably helped the company grow and develop with purpose,” Dasilva explains. This also raises the quality of work and the company’s overall productivity.

“We’ve just finished our 11th acquisition and I think the reason we’ve become so skilled at integrating new companies is our ability to recognize differences as strengths. We are focused on allowing who we are and who they are to succeed together.” The DNA of Lightspeed emanates from those LGBTQ roots and inclusive ideals.

These principles also manifest in the way Dasilva views the larger tech sector. Though the field isn’t always as progressive as he’d like, it’s still a place where ideas and ingenuity are at the center of success, rather than how you identify. In fact, if anything, Dasilva considers identity a powerful advantage, lending authentic perspectives.

PUTTING SPIRITUALITY IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT. “While it is not a secret that I’m gay or a person of color, what people don’t often learn about me, unless I address it, is my spirituality,” Dasilva explains. In his first book, Age of Union: Igniting the Changemaker (released in 2019), he explores spirituality as one of the four major pillars of his narrative: leadership, culture, spirituality, and nature. Dasilva’s words emphasize that the time for personal and professional change is now, and a leader’s choices are the catalyst to these changes.

“My conversion to Judaism is just as important to who I am as a person and a CEO and entrepreneur as any other facet of my existence. Maybe even more so. It’s interesting because I think that LGBTQ people are often excluded from a lot of the conversations around spirituality. Yet, at the same time, if you look at history, LGBTQ people were often some of the most spiritually upheld people in communities,” Dasilva notes.

Moreover, his religious identity often fuels deeper relationships with mentees and other entrepreneurs.”When I open up and talk about spirituality at tech conferences, that’s the one thing everybody wants to talk more with me about at the end of every event. Because nobody talks about it in professional settings,” Dasilva confides. “And it eats into our mental health, and into our leadership efforts when we can’t be our whole and authentic selves.”

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Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.