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Julian Rowlands, VP Finance at Spruce I chat with Julian about: His career journey from a History major before going to business school at uChicago to becoming the VP Finance at Spruce. Spruce — what the company does and what it’s all about. Structuring and growing the finance function for scale at growth stage company. When Julian joined Spruce, the company was 75 employees. Since then, the company has tripled, growing to 250 folks. As the head of finance, Julian explains how he inherited the finance function and how it has evolved to accommodate this hyper growth. In June of 2021, Spruce raised a $60M Series C round from Bessemer, Scale Venture Partners and Zigg Capital. While Julian was at Xendit, he helped the company raise a $65M Series B round from Accel. Julian shares some of his biggest learnings going through these fundraise processes and imparts advice to folks going through fundraising rounds today. The biggest misconception about the finance function within growth stage tech companies like Spruce. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Jeff Epstein, Operating Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners & Co-CEO and CFO at Apex Technology Acquisition  Corp. (Nasdaq: APXT) I chat with Jeff about: His career journey from investment banking to operating, including stops at various technology and media companies to now serving as an operating partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. Apex Technology Acquisition Corp, a SPAC that recently announced its merger with AvePoint — the largest data management solutions provider for Microsoft cloud. Raising a SPAC compared to a venture fund, and the process for finding a target company to merge with. How companies should whether the traditional IPO, a direct listing or a SPAC is the right path to going public for them. Some of the unique opportunities and challenges finance leaders face today and Jeff’s advice to help navigate through them. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Ivan Makarov, VP Finance at Webflow Ivan is an experienced finance executive with over 15 years of professional experience in the internet industry building finance teams and functions inside global tech companies. He has served as a VP Finance for SmugMug and Flickr for a period of 8 years, prior to joining Webflow. At Webflow, Ivan leads all of the accounting, financial planning, business operations, legal, corporate and tax compliance. I chat with Ivan about: His career journey from PwC to SmugMug, the acquisition of Flickr and then joining Webflow. Webflow —  what company does and what its all about. How finance leaders should think about pricing models that are trial-based vs freemium for SMBs and the metrics to optimize for in each. When you should consider moving upmarket as a SaaS company focused on the SMB market and what considerations you have to make as the finance leader to prepare for that change. The biggest misconception about the finance function within growth-stage software companies like Webflow. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Sruthi Lanka, CFO at Public As CFO, Sruthi oversees finance, data, and people operations. Prior to Public, she served as VP and Head of Strategic Finance at MoneyLion, the fintech startup and challenger bank. She was MoneyLion’s first finance hire in 2017 following its Series A, and built the team that forecasts and monitors the firm’s financial performance, overseeing financial planning, capital optimization, fundraising, and Board engagement. Previously, she worked on mergers and acquisitions for RBC, and at Goldman Sachs. Sruthi also serves on the Board of the nonprofit Women Creating Change. Sruthi has an MBA from Duke University and a B.Tech. in Electronics Engineering from the National Institute of Technology in India. I chat with Sruthi about: Her career journey starting off as a computer engineer turned finance professional with experience across product development, pricing, corporate development, capital raising and mergers and acquisition. Prior to her current role as the CFO of Public, she was the VP of Strategic Finance at MoneyLion and before that spent time in investment banking at RBC Capital Markets and Goldman Sachs. Public — what the company does and what it’s all about. Payment for Order Flow and why Public decided to move away from this model to tipping. What considerations she had to take into account to determine if this would be financially feasible for the company. Public recently crossed 1M members on the platform. As the company grows towards realizing its mission to open the stock market to everyone, the biggest challenges and opportunities she sees from her seat as the CFO. Themes and interesting investment conversations happening in the Public community, including Sruthi’s favorite themes and investments she’s tracking these days on Public? --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Joining me on this episode of the Backbone is Blaine Fitzgerald, EVP Finance & Incoming CFO at Kinaxis (TSX:KXS), a company that revolutionizes planning by delivering the agility you need to make fast, confident decisions in an unpredictable world. I chat with Blaine about: His career journey having started his career in accounting with stints at Collins Barrow, EY and Deloitte. From there Blaine held roles at CMHC before making the plunge into tech with Curtiss-Wright Controls Defence Solutions. In 2013, he joined this small company called Shopify where he spent 5.5 years and played a key role in taking the company public as the VP of Finance. From there, Blaine spent some time at Spartan Bioscience as their CFO before joining Kinaxis as an Executive Vice President of Finance. Blaine will be transitioning into the CFO role at Kinaxis in August 2021. Kinaxis — What the company does and what is it all about. A behind-the-scenes look at taking Shopify public and the IPO process. As a finance leader, how you know a company is ready to take the plunge in the public markets and Blaine’s learnings for finance leaders preparing to go through that process now. What it means to be a finance exec for a publicly-traded software company and how the finance function has to evolve once you’re a public company, including the systems and processes they rely upon that need to be in place before a company goes public. The biggest misconception about the finance function within software companies. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Joining me on this episode of the Backbone is Naeem Ishaq, CFO at Checkr, the leading technology company in the background check industry. At Checkr, Naeem leads finance, facilities, and data operations teams, responsible for financial strategy and planning, corporate development, and optimizing Checkr’s financial performance for long-term growth. Naeem has nearly 20 years of leadership experience at companies like Circle, Salesforce, and Square (which he helped to lead through a successful IPO in 2015). He was one of the first 5% of employees at both Square and Salesforce and has a strong record of repeatedly scaling growth businesses from startup stage to global reach. I chat with Naeem about: His career journey working at the intersection of finance and tech since 2002, starting at Intel. From there he joined Salesforce in 2008 when it was a $4B market cap company and 1700 people, spending over four years there before joining Square when they were around 170 people and helping them go through their IPO. Prior to joining as the CFO at Checkr, Naeem led finance at Boxed Wholesale and Circle. What Checkr does and what the company is all about. Some of the frameworks and mental models that formed the M&A playbook for organizations like Salesforce and Square. Throughout his career Naeem had the opportunity to work very closely on M&A. While at Salesforce, he  played a key role in the acquisition of Jigsaw for $300M and the Buddy Media acquisition for $689M. Then at Square, he led the acquisition of Caviar. Naeem has worked on 40+ different M&A transactions during his career. His advice to finance leaders who may end up going through an acquisition process with large strategic acquirers. The best practices for navigating through times of crisis, from the CFO seat. The biggest misconception about the finance function within growth stage software companies like Checkr. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Dennis Kavelman, Partner at Inovia Capital (Former CFO / COO at Blackberry) I chat with Dennis about: His 15 year run as the CFO and COO of Blackberry after joining the company when it was virtually unknown, with just 20 employees and roughly $2-million in revenue back in 1995. During this time Blackberry grew to more than 15,000 employees and sales of $20B. Dennis had a front-row seat for the company’s explosive growth from startup to global player. He also helped take Blackberry public as CFO. What made Blackberry into a global success story and how the company evolved from 20 to 15,000 employees and $20B in sales. Blackberry’s co-CEO management structure and whether it is something he recommends to companies today. How he managed to continuously evolve as Blackberry grew to remain “qualified” for the role having minimal prior experience. How he transitioned into the world of venture as a Partner at Inovia Capital and his focus area at the firm. What advice or key learnings he shares with the up and coming emerging technology companies of today. Hiring top talent. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Curt Sigfstead, CFO at Clearbanc I chat with Curt about: His career journey that led him to the CFO seat at Clearbanc. Prior to joining Clearbanc, Curt was the Head of Technology Investment Banking for the West Coast at JP Morgan. Over the last 22 years while he was there, Curt led over $200B of technology M&A transactions and over 80 technology IPOs, follow-ons and private placements — a tremendous feat. What Clearbanc does and what it’s all about. How he thinks about risks an emerging company has to take, and the frameworks or mental models a CFO can use to evaluate them. IPO readiness and M&A preparedness: the right time for a company to think about going public and specifically for the CFO, what needs to be in place before that can happen. M&A preparedness —to the extent one can “prepare for M&A” — what the company’s finance leader should be thinking about to ensure the company is ready to transact. The biggest misconception about the finance function within growth-stage software companies like Clearbanc. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Etienne St-Martin, Director of Finance at Roadmunk I chat with Etienne about: His career journey from Deloitte to Freshbooks to becoming the Director of Finance at Roadmunk. What Roadmunk does and what it’s all about. Building a finance function and deciding what aspects to do in-house vs outsource. How seasonality may affect pricing and packaging SaaS businesses that serve both the SMB and enterprise markets. Both Freshbooks and Roadmunk have free trials and a self-serve onboarding process. The biggest misconception about the finance function within growth-stage software companies like Roadmunk. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Brian Montminy, CFO at Lessonly I chat with Brian about: His career journey starting as a consultant with Accenture, followed by 5 years at JP Morgan Chase before taking the plunge into tech with Salesforce where he held various roles in the finance and strategy team. What Lessonly does and what it’s all about. Risk aversion and why finance leaders are less likely to take on personal risk as a finance leader. How Brian has had to evolve as the company has grown and how the finance function has changed during his tenure. For context, Brian joined Lessonly around Series A when the company was 24 people with 300 customers, and now the company is at 170 people with over 1,000 customers. The biggest misconception about the finance function within growth-stage software companies like Lessonly. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Tim Compton, SVP of Finance at ActiveCampaign I chat with Tim about: His career journey from EY to the transition into tech including stints at Google, Groupon and Geofeedia, before taking on his current role at ActiveCampaign. What ActiveCampaign does and what it’s all about. Comparing ActiveCampaign’s hyper-growth to Groupon and what it means for the finance function. For context, ActiveCampaign crossed some impressive milestones. At the start of 2020, the company raised a $100M round from Susquehanna Growth Partners. The company has passed the $100M ARR milestone and has over 100k total customers. Tim joined the company when it was 75 employees and $17M in ARR back in 2016. Tim was part of the early days of growth at Groupon to IPO in 2011. The unique challenges and opportunities of serving the SMB segment of the market compared to enterprise, including the considerations you should take into account when deciding if the company should move upmarket. The biggest misconception about the finance function within growth-stage software companies like ActiveCampaign. This episode is sponsored by Vena Solutions.  Vena is the complete planning platform loved by finance and trusted by business. The Vena Growth engine combines the tool you already know—Excel—with the technology and experts you need to power your plan to grow. Learn more at www.venasolutions.com/backbone. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Aly Khan Musani, CFO at Symend I chat with Aly about: His career journey starting in the energy and natural resources sector with various progressive roles in finance including serving as the CFO of CleanTek Industries, prior to joining Symend. What Symend does and what it is all about. Aly’s perspective on “data is the new oil” having worked in the energy and natural resources sector, who’s now the CFO of a company driven by data. He also discusses the similarities and differences between technology and the natural resources/energy space. Symend recently raised over $50M, Series B — one of the largest Series B rounds in recent memory for an Alberta based company. The round was led by Inovia Capital’s growth fund. Aly shares his biggest learnings from the raise and his tips for raising during a global pandemic. The biggest misconception about the finance function within growth stage software companies like Symend. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Rob Froment, CFO at Clio I chat with Rob about: His career journey starting in public practice at Grant Thornton before taking on various progressive finance leadership roles within tech companies and he ended up as the CFO at Clio. What Clio does and what it is all about. Clio’s fascinating pricing model which includes aspects of freemium, self-serve vs sales assisted, and account growth through seat expansion . The most important SaaS metrics + leading indicators he considers as CFO. What he means by “good judgement comes from experiences, and experiences come from bad judgement”. The biggest misconception about the finance function within growth stage software companies like Clio. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Srikant Nayak, CFO at GroupBy I chat with Srikant about: His career journey starting in India and holding progressive roles in various companies in India and Dubai, before taking on his current gig at GroupBy. GroupBy —  what the company does and what is it all about? Since joining GroupBy, Srikant has helped the company raise over $15M in venture capital and complete an acquisition. He shares his biggest learnings from raising venture capital and completing an acquisition. What factors he considers when building out a finance function in order to keep it lean. The biggest misconception about the finance function within a growth stage software company like GroupBy. We close things off with a quickfire round. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Darrell Cox, CFO at  Vena I chat with Darrell about: His path to the CFO seat at Vena, with stops as the VP Finance at Freshbooks and various finance roles within telcos such as Rogers, Virgin Mobile and WIND. Vena Solutions  — what the company does and what its all about. As a company, Vena helps finance leaders in organizations plan for the future through its FP&A software. To that end, Darrell shares how finance leaders can be ready to capitalize on opportunities navigating through a time of crisis and be ready to come back stronger post-crisis. The importance of the finance leader to be a storyteller and look beyond the numbers. The biggest misconception about the finance function within growth stage software companies like Vena. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
David Reid, CFO & COO of Boll & Branch It’s the first quarter of the new decade and as you know, we are in unprecedented times. The world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We all have a part to play to flatten the curve and slow the spread of this virus. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate guest and company to feature during this time.  Joining me on this episode of the Backbone is David Reid, Chief Operating and Financial Officer at Boll & Branch, a direct-to-consumer brand that offers industry-leading luxury bedding and goods. My conversation with David was recorded a few months ago, prior to COVID-19. As you will hear David talk about in the show, Boll & Branch’s decisions boil down to one choice: to do what’s right. That’s why its no surprise, that starting last week Boll & Branch began donating mattresses and pillows to emergency medical operations in the fight against COVID-19. This keeps workers in their partner factories employed, and helps medical and government agencies prepare for the crisis. They’ve already provided New York State with 1,000 mattresses and 5,000 pillows for emergency facilities in places such as the Javits Center and they hope to fund more production in the days and weeks ahead as we face the uncertain future of this crisis. As a listener, you can join in this effort and in spreading the word. Visit www.bollandbranch.com and use the promo code “GOODNESS” to get 10% off and 10% of the proceeds funding this effort. Or you can donate directly. Each mattress costs $100 to make and deliver, but even $5 helps. As for David himself, he oversees Boll & Branch’s Finance, Operations, Technology, Customer Experience, and Business Intelligence functions. David started his career with Deutsche Bank working in both London and New York City. He subsequently moved to the corporate world taking leadership roles as CFO at Dylan’s Candy Bar and VP Business Development at Suite Retail. David is a Chartered Accountant (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland) and holds Bachelor’s and Masters degrees from the University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh respectively. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Karthik Srinivasan, Director of Finance at Chargebee I chat with Karthik about: His career journey starting at Tata Consultancy Services after getting your CA in India, to becoming the Director of Finance at Chargebee. Chargebee — what the company does and what its all about. The benefits and challenges to offering customers various local currencies pricing options, in addition to monthly and annual plans and how do to take into account fluctuating foreign exchange risk from a cash flow perspective. The concept of value based pricing models and why Chargebee charges an overage fee. The importance of the finance function at a company like Chargebee. At Chargebee, Karthik is responsible for managing the company’s financial operations, FP&A, tax management and legal.   Prior to Chargebee, he served as the Head of Finance at Olam Information Services managing the finance for their global IT/ITES function from scratch. Having started off his career at Tata Consultancy Services, and a brief stint in Singapore managing the subsidiary finance for the APAC region, he has played a pivotal role in cost consulting as part of the CFO’s office and also laying the foundation for cross-border finance within a fintech company. He has over 15+ years of experience in Tech finance embracing various roles across different streams including financial consolidation, pricing, cost management, consulting, international finance and taxation. He holds a Chartered accountant degree from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. Besides his work, he is actively committed to working as a volunteer in a nonprofit organization in the field of culture, arts, and religion. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Brice Scheschuk, Managing Partner at Globalive Capital I chat with Brice about: His career journey from PwC to entrepreneurship to being a part of the founding team at WIND Mobile, where he served as the CFO, and now Globalive. His focus area at Globalive. The biggest takeaways and learnings as a finance leader and entrepreneur that he’s now leveraging as an investor, including things that he wishes he knew as a finance leader / entrepreneur. An inside look at WIND Mobile’s sale process to Shaw and his biggest takeaways from the multi-billion dollar exit. WIND was truly an amazing scaleup story. The company had over 1,200 employees, 900,000 subscribers and generated approximately $500 million in revenue and $80 million in EBITDA in 2015, prior to selling to Shaw Communications for approximately $1.6 billion in December 2015. The best practices for setting up an investment platform and the most important consideration entrepreneurs should make when raising capital. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Johnathan Mirian, VP Finance at Justworks I chat with Johnathan about: His career journey from investment banking at Morgan Stanley to product management before taking on a finance operator role at Justworks when the company was just 20 people. JustWorks — what the company does and what is it all about. How he evolved as a finance leader from the first finance hire of a 20 person team to today where Justworks has grown to over 600 people, and raised more than $90M in venture capital from the likes of Redpoint, Index, Bain Capital Venture amongst others. What it means for a company to  grow in a fiscally responsible manner and the finance leader’s role in ensuring a business is fiscally responsible. The importance of the finance function at a company like JustWorks. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
Khoi Le, VP Finance at Hopper I chat with Khoi about: His journey from RSM Richter in Montreal to progressive finance and operating roles at real estate and distribution companies, before making the plunge into tech at Hopper. Hopper — what company does and what its all about. His transition into his first finance operating role at a tech company and how it compares to other non-tech companies, including the challenges and opportunities specific to tech that he faces now. Going from his first 100 days as the first finance hire at a 90 person high growth tech company to raising $100M+ in venture capital funding from the likes of Omers, Caisse, Accomplice, BDC and others and scaling the team to 330+ people. The biggest misconception about the finance function within a technology company. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/backbone/message
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