Development & Alumni Relations Office 

MEET CHRIS GREGG – CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND CO-FOUNDER OF LIGHTYEAR, AND QUEEN’S GRADUATE  Three images of Chris Gregg (bearded, wearing glasses and in blue t-shirt) in colour (centre image) and blue mono (left and right) with artistic effect, seperated with blue lines

22 July 2021

Chris Gregg, who graduated from Queen’s with a BA in Politics & History (2005), is a highly motivated business leader who has 10 years of experience across the technology industry from founding and managing fintech companies, to leadership roles in fortune 500 corporations.

Born in Craigavon, Chris grew up in Lurgan, County Armagh and attended Banbridge Academy 10 miles away (in County Down) before coming to Queen’s in 2002.

“Queen’s has an excellent reputation and the quality of education available is highly regarded. Belfast is a fabulous city so I was very happy to spend my university years there,” said Chris.  

“Politics and History had always interested me and I believed the course would provide me with the rounded skillsets required to pursue a career in business.”

Looking back, what does Chris remember most about his time at Queen’s and how did his degree shape his career path?

“Graduation day and summer afternoons spent studying in Botanic Park, and the many friendships I made, are among the fondest memories of my time at University,” said Chris.

“My degree provided me with great analytical and interpretive skills; the politics element gave me a great insight into people of influence and how to gain results by influencing those around you. Politics is no different to business.”

Australia & US West Coast

Following graduation and a period working for HBOS – the UK banking and insurance company now wholly owned by Lloyds Banking Group – Chris moved to Australia in 2009 with older brother Roger who is a BSc Business Administration and Computer Science Queen’s graduate (1993).

Chris got his start initially working for a large hospitality group, before becoming a tech entrepreneur. Like most good entrepreneur stories, he set out to solve the problems he was facing in his day job, namely the vast amounts of disorganised paper littered throughout offices and archives. Despite having no experience in software development, Chris and Roger created the world’s first Accounts Payable (AP) automation platform, InvitBox, which they later sold to US accounting business Intuit in 2014 and which resulted in Chris spending a year working in the San Francisco Bay area as Strategic Partnerships Manager US Market.

“I spent 8 years in Australia in which time I got to travel much of SE Asia and expand my networks. I founded and exited my first technology business to a Fortune500 company and met Justine, my Australian wife!”

Lightyear - second start-up

Fast forward to 2021 and Chris (along with his brother Roger) has founded his second start-up company, Lightyear, focusing on solving some of the unique problems encountered in the Accounts Payable (AP) environment.

An award-winning global Software as a Service (SaaS) business and financial software company, Lightyear develops and builds cutting-edge fintech products for businesses and accountants and bookkeepers. Headquartered in Belfast with offices in Australia Lightyear’s Payables & Procurement platform is available in more than 40 countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa and in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Lightyear was founded to help SMEs and large business automate finance processes in an easy to use cloud platform. We fully automate all elements of a business’s Accounts Payable and Procurement operations.

“In the last 3½ years, we have assisted thousands of businesses with transitioning to paper free environments. Each year we are processing $5 billion worth of supplier invoices, saving customers over 500,000 hours per year, not to mention 1000+ trees from being cut down!”

Advice for budding entrepreneurs

And what advice would he have for young or recent Queen’s graduates who might be thinking about setting up their own business? 

“The world can appear daunting and the journey to realising global success a long one. In fact, it is a small and connected place in 2021, and the opportunities that exist have never been greater,” said Chris.

“If you look at someone and find inspiration, know that they too were in your shoes one day and had the belief to do something special.

“The potential to do something special is in all of us; you just need to work hard, be humble and believe in yourself.”

Passionate about helping companies solve their purchasing and finance processes, and with a clear customer-centric approach to applying new technology to solve the big challenges that businesses face on a daily basis, Chris and Lightyear certainly have a bright – and busy – future ahead of them.

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit graduate news items, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast.

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