When consumers were just starting with their Internet experience in the mid-1990s, LightBound was there. Ten years ago, when businesses were exploring voice, video and other messaging options over the Internet (SIP technology), LightBound was there. And just a few years ago, in 2013, when marketing software maker ExactTarget was acquired by Salesforce for $2.5 billion, LightBound was there.
Who exactly is LightBound and why are they at the center of some of Indianapolis’ most significant tech sector milestones?
LightBound is a provider of Internet, voice and data solutions — the tech infrastructure upon which enterprise software developers and companies of all sizes build their businesses. Plus, the company’s around-the-clock, experienced service personnel make sure LightBound’s customers are always on, and always connected to the world. Some of the 50+ member staff at LightBound have been architecting, managing and providing uninterrupted service for customers for up to 18 years.
“There is nobody in this market who does all of the same things we do at LightBound,” said Dane Dittemore, vice president at LightBound “These are foundational things that a thriving tech sector needs to grow. They aren’t sexy, but they are essential, especially when you are stepping up from consumer grade service to our fiber – it’s like moving from the kids table to the adults table.”
The company’s Achilles heel is that too few people know who LightBound is or what they do. But Dane hopes, a new brand identity, website, and some remarkable new talent combined with those long-time experienced veterans will help to solidify the LightBound name as synonymous with “Your IP foundation.” Since Internet Protocol is the foundation for most of today’s business communications, getting this piece right is crucial.
Indy-based MilesHerndon worked closely with LightBound to peel back the layers of history and service to create a showcase for LightBound’s products, including testimonials from some very high profile customers like the Indianapolis Colts, Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick, Barnes & Thornburg law firm, First Internet Bank, the Indianapolis 500 Festival and the Indiana Pacers to name a few.
To further demonstrate its capabilities to broader audiences, LightBound recently stepped up to provide high speed Internet connectivity for the Pop Con $50,000 Halo Championship Tournament, which streamed the event live to hundreds of thousands of viewers around the world simultaneously.
“The needs of the Pro Gaming League and Microsoft to make this tournament successful were particularly challenging,” said Shawn Smith, Communications Director of Indy PopCon. “We had to guarantee speed, but we also needed true reliability so the stream didn’t falter. LightBound really stepped up for us.”
In the past few months, LightBound has also gone on a hiring spree adding some of the region’s top technical talent to its experienced staff including network engineers, pre- and post-sales engineers and more.
As an infrastructure company, LightBound is never going to make the big headlines with dramatic “hockey stick” growth like many of their clients and other tech companies do. Unlike software companies that can develop and launch a product using a computer and an Internet connection, infrastructure growth often involves digging a ditch, installing hardware and pulling cables through miles of the city’s underbelly.
“The very big deal for us is having successfully reinvented ourselves at every major technological shift during the past 20 years to not only remain a relevant and successful business, but to have the kind of knowledge and understanding — our people — to be the foundation that keeps our customers relevant and successful through those shifts as well,” Dane said. “Not bad for a company that got its start as a dial-up service provider in the 1990s.”
Offering proof of LightBound’s superior service, Dane pointed to the company’s +69 Net Promoter Score, or NPS®, which is based on asking customers one simple question — how likely is it that you would recommend LightBound to a friend or colleague? At a score of +69, LightBound is more than double the NPS average for Internet service providers. By comparison, Amazon has a +69 NPS score followed by Netflix (+68), Apple iPhone (+63), Zappos (+60), YouTube and Pandora (both +59).
Out of 250+ customers — small, medium and large companies — about 50 LightBound customers are nonprofits and schools.
Don’t let that nonprofit label fool you. One of the largest school districts in central Indiana recently informed LightBound that they anticipate an increase in bring-your-own-device connections from about 4,000 to roughly 9,000 devices in the fall.
“Solving those kinds of bandwidth problems is why many of the state’s largest and fastest growing school systems work with us,” Dane said. “We connect several of the largest systems in the Central Indiana with our fiber optics. They are like little microcosms of what we do as the hometown provider of choice for the State of Indiana.”
Time will tell if the new brand identity, website and community efforts help fortify that Achilles heel of people not quite knowing who they are or what they do. Following the sea change from server rooms and desk phones to the always on cloud and mobile movement, LightBound has certainly survived market shifts that swallowed up less malleable infrastructure players.
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