Qnary flies higher with the growth partner that thinks like a startup
Company leaders were ready to scale, but their long-time lender was holding them back. Qnary needed a new capital partner who understood the needs of a high-growth startup. After switching to Lighter Capital, “a debt provider that’s essentially a VC partner,” the business really soared.
Use of funds:
Expand sales and marketing
Invest in product innovation and development
Refinance outstanding debt
Lighter Capital Funding
Doubled ARR in 2022
Developed new AI solutions
Entered markets in Europe and Asia
Growth & Achievements
Qnary was born from the idea that everybody has an online presence — and that it matters.
Bant Breen, an expert and innovator in global marketing and communications, founded Qnary in 2012 after discovering an opportunity for companies to build their brands and make meaningful connections online using a powerful but neglected tool: their executives’ voices.
Making it easier for companies to elevate the social media presence of their leaders, Qnary grew slowly and steadily at first. It wasn’t until Qnary pivoted from a freemium service model to a SaaS business and launched its mobile app that the business really took off.
Five years into their startup journey, Qnary’s leaders had the wind at their backs. Comparable employee advocacy solutions couldn’t come close to Qnary’s user engagement stats—96% of its customers were in the app every three to four days. After fine-tuning its sales strategy to scale revenue, Qnary had a deluge of new leads.
“Our sales had really grown organically up until that point,” Breen says. “With that change in strategy, our leads increased 500% almost overnight.”
Qnary leaders had largely bootstrapped their way to that point. When business picked up and they needed runway, they would source short-term working capital loans from an online lender, which was a good solution for several years.
By 2021, Qnary had incredible momentum; it was clear that it needed more capital and a responsive financial partner to better support it through rapid growth that would enable it to take full advantage of emerging opportunities.
Finding a capital partner that gets high-growth startups
Qnary leaders planned to invest in building out infrastructure and hiring new teams to sustain their aggressive growth, but they couldn’t persuade their lender at the time to deliver suitable funding.
“Our previous lender didn’t have that entrepreneur mentality. They didn’t understand the additional capital and liquidity that was required to scale our business quickly,” Qnary CEO Ray Carbonell says.
As the pace of business accelerated, Qnary hit other obstacles with its lender, which also threatened its success. Crucial transactions didn’t always go through on time, and getting in touch with someone who could resolve problems or answer questions was next to impossible.
A mentor suggested that Carbonell and Breen explore funding from Lighter Capital.
“Overall, the costs with Lighter Capital and our previous provider were similar,” Carbonell says, “but Lighter clearly understood our capital needs at this stage of growth, and their people were both responsive and engaged in our business. It was an easy decision to switch.”
How Qnary put over $2 million of non-dilutive growth capital to work
In a little over a year, Qnary used funding from Lighter Capital to expand its sales and marketing teams, hire software developers, and extend its cash runway. It also refinanced outstanding debt from a previous lender.
Those strategic capital investments helped Qnary to:
Enter markets in Europe and Asia.
Develop services and AI solutions that add value for both new and existing customers.
“Lighter Capital’s model is so innovative — a debt provider that’s essentially a VC partner. We get the financial rigor that a VC would give us, as well as strategic guidance, and that’s been incredibly helpful,” Breen says.
Loving the journey and the double-digit growth
Qnary has earned a spot on Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of 5,000 fastest-growing companies every year since 2018, and it shows no sign of slowing down.
“We’re loving this journey, and our partnership with Lighter Capital has only made our experience better,” says Breen. “Jamie, our investment director, has been an excellent sounding board not only on financial matters but also on growth strategies.”
In 2022, Qnary doubled its ARR and its leaders expect the company will grow another 50% in the year ahead, thanks in part to another round of funding from Lighter Capital.
Carbonell adds, “Our partners at Lighter Capital think the way a fast-growing startup thinks, which is quite unique. It’s why we continue to work with them, and why we’ve expanded our relationship.”