The Backbone: a journey inside finance at a startup

The Backbone: a journey inside finance at a startup

By Shubham Datta
The Backbone explores the journey inside finance at high-growth technology startups. Our host Shubham Datta interviews finance leaders at various stages of emerging technology companies to find out their story, key financial and operating metrics they track, how they measure them and what their biggest challenges are. Hear directly from finance leaders at tech startups who are in there day in and day out, serving as the backbone of their company.

For more information, check out the www.thebackbone.co
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Ep. 52: Why the tradeoff of balancing profitability and sustainability is a false dichotomy with David Reid, CFO & COO of Boll & Branch
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.
32:16
April 1, 2020
Ep. 51: The art of value-based pricing models with Karthik Srinivasan, Director of Finance at Chargebee
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.
19:53
March 18, 2020
Ep. 50: Behind the 7-year journey of scaling WIND Mobile to $500M in revenue and $1.6B sale w/ Brice Scheschuk, Managing Partner at Globalive Capital
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.
41:38
March 4, 2020
Ep. 49: Fiscally responsible growth vs growth at all costs with Johnathan Mirian, VP Finance at Justworks
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.
24:11
February 19, 2020
Ep. 48: Setting the right foundation in the first 100 days to scale the finance function for hyper growth with Khoi Le, VP Finance at Hopper
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.
33:24
February 5, 2020
Ep. 47: A framework for managing M&A as a CFO with Saeideh Fard, Chief Financial Officer at Tulip
Saeideh Fard, Chief Financial Officer at Tulip I chat with Saei about: Her journey into tech starting at PwC with stops at Sysomos, MarketWired, and Travel Edge prior to joining Tulip. Tulip — what the company does and what it’s all about. Tulip’s sales process the most indicative KPIs and metrics of the business. Best practises from a systems integration (or separation) perspective that people should be thinking about for M&A processes. The biggest misconception about the finance function within a technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advice you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
31:15
January 22, 2020
Ep. 46: Pushing company-wide transformation of a craft brewer through technology with Trevor Young, Chief Financial Officer at Steam Whistle Brewing
Trevor Young, Chief Financial Officer at Steam Whistle Brewing I chat with Trevor about: His journey from competing for a spot on the National rowing team for the Beijing Olympics to the Canadian Armed Forces to Management Consulting at McKinsey before making the jump into the CFO seat at Steam Whistle. Steam Whistle Brewing — what the company does and what it's all about. After inheriting the finance function, how he decided which systems to keep vs the ones to change in order to innovate as a company as well as tackling legal, HR, and IT in addition to steering the ship from a financial perspective Tips and best practises of presenting financial data to a non-finance audience. The importance of the finance function at a retailer and brand like Steam Whistle Brewing.
25:35
January 8, 2020
Ep. 45: Driving growth through an omnichannel approach at an established wellness brand with Michelle Armstrong, Chief Operating Officer at Saje Natural Wellness
Michelle Armstrong, Chief Operating Officer at Saje Natural Wellness I chat with Michelle about: Her journey from PwC to 10+ years at Lululemon in FP&A and merchandising roles prior to becoming the COO at Saje Natural Wellness. Saje — what the company does and what its all about. How she made the transition from a finance operating role to now being the COO at Saje and how does her background in accounting and finance helps her in her role. Tips and best practises of presenting financial data to a non-finance audience. How to think about changing systems that you inherit, including managing an established wellness brand that sells both online and in bricks-and-mortar locations. Saje was founded in 1992. When she joined Saje, the company had over 15 years of operating history, and systems in place. The importance of the finance function at a retailer and brand like Saje.
24:44
November 27, 2019
Ep. 44: Striking the balance of growth and profitability as a bootstrapped company with Jessica Katz, Director of Finance at Format
Jessica Katz, Director of Finance at Format I chat with Jessica about: Her journey into tech and finance from EY to Wave and DHX Media before taking on her current role at Format as the Director of Finance. Format — what the company does and what is it all about. The challenges and opportunities faced as a finance leader in a 100% bootstrapped company having raised no outside capital. Including managing financial reporting when you know there are no outside stakeholders, certain metrics that she’s really keen on that a venture backed company may not be. How she balances profitability (or break even) and growth as a bootstrapped company and how she thinks about the competition that has raised a lot of venture capital funding and can afford to outspend Format. The biggest misconception about the finance function within a technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advice you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
22:48
November 12, 2019
Ep. 43: A framework for growing and scaling finance functions with Mustafa Nafar, VP Finance at Modsy
Mustafa Nafar, VP Finance at Modsy I chat with Mustafa about: His journey into tech and finance from the start of Mustafa’s career with Deloitte in India to progressive finance roles with Best Buy to Zynga, Sunrun and most recently Doordash before joining as the VP of Finance at Modsy. Modsy — what the company does and what it’s all about. His transition from large company tech companies down to startups. The biggest learnings for implementing and growing finance functions within companies having worked at large, public companies like Best Buy, and Zynga to fast growing startups like Doordash. The biggest misconception about the finance function within a technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advice you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
25:02
October 30, 2019
Ep. 42: What investors really care about from a CFO turned VC & the top metrics for direct-to-consumer businesses with Amy Wu, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners
Amy Wu, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners I chat with Amy about: Her journey into tech starting as Associate at Insight Venture Partners, and then operating as the SVP of Finance and Operations at NewsCred to the CFO seat at Discovery Inc, where she spent the last 2 years prior to making the jump back to the venture side as a Partner at Lightspeed. About your investment focus area at Lightspeed. Not many CFOs go on to become Partners at venture firms. How her experience as an operator, particularly in the finance function, helped her become a better investor. Her  lessons learned while raising capital and what she’d do differently. Things that she’s now looking for as an investor, that she wishes knew  as a finance leader. [Amy helped raise over $60M for NewsCred and is now investing millions for Lightspeed.] The unique metrics and KPIs that are relevant for DTC businesses vs SaaS businesses. The biggest misconception about the finance function within a technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advice you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
33:27
October 16, 2019
Ep. 41: The key differences between marketing-driven SaaS companies to sales-driven ones with Amar Shrivastava, VP Finance at Clubhouse
Amar Shrivastava, VP Finance at Clubhouse I chat with Amar about: His 15+ year journey within tech and finance. Clubhouse Software — what the company does and what is it all about. The key metrics and differences between a sales-driven SaaS company vs a marketing-driven SaaS company from a finance leader’s perspective. The biggest learnings from scaling finance functions (Amar took Schoology from less than 20 people to over 200 when he left!) that he’s now employing at Clubhouse. The importance of the finance function at a fast-growing tech company. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advice you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing At Clubhouse, Amar is responsible for the Finance, Legal and HR functions. He has spent most of his 20+ yr career working with early stage, VC backed companies. In his prior roles, he has generally been the first operational hire brought on to build out the G&A functions. He has worked with some of the most prominent VC’s in the business, including Battery Ventures, JMI Equity, FirstMark Capital, Intel Capital, Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital. Amar received his BA in Business at Virginia Commonwealth University and received his Executive MBA at Rutgers University.
25:26
October 2, 2019
Ep. 40: Mejuri's data-driven approach to managing inventory as an omnichannel, emerging direct-to-consumer brand with Katie Sellers, Director of Finance at Mejuri
Katie Sellers, Director of Finance at Mejuri I chat with Katie about: Her journey into tech after starting her career at EY and then you working on HP’s separation into 2 public companies in the Bay Area. From there Katie’s move back to Toronto to join Coinsquare as the Director of FP&A, before taking on her current role as the finance leader at Mejuri an emerging direct to consumer brand. Mejuri — what does the company do and what is it all about. The challenges of forecasting unpredictable revenue streams as a direct to consumer brand, including how to think about customer acquisition cost and measuring lifetime value of the customer. Mejuri’s data driven approach for forecasting demand and managing inventory levels and the key metrics she’s always monitoring as the finance leader of an omnichannel DTC brand. The importance of the finance function at emerging direct to consumer companies and what makes a great finance leader in companies like this. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advise you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
31:54
September 18, 2019
Ep. 39: Balancing short term expectations of investors with longer term strategic roadmap decisions as a public company tech CFO with Shouvik Roy, CFO at Versapay
Shouvik Roy, Chief Financial Officer at Versapay (TSXV: VPY) On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Shouvik about: His journey into tech after starting his career at EY. From there, Shouvik held various finance roles within retailers including Home Depot and Nike to automative companies like Linamar before taking the plunge into tech as the Director of Finance at Freshbooks, prior to Versapay. Versapay — what the company does and what its all about. What he identifies as specific challenges and opportunities for the finance role within tech companies, having worked across various industries including retail, consumer brands and automative. The biggest changes in the KPIs that were particularly important for an SMB software company (like Freshbooks) which are not as relevant for a company serving enterprise customers (like Versapay). Balancing short term expectations of investors (quarterly earnings calls) with longer term strategic roadmap decisions, as a publicly traded company CFO. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advise you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
22:56
September 4, 2019
Ep. 38: The Consumerization of the Enterprise & Key Differences Between a Strategic and Financial Acquirer with Alok Pandey, VP Finance & Corporate Development at AnchorFree
Alok Pandey, VP Finance & Corporate Development at AnchorFree On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Alok about: His journey into tech after starting his career at JP Morgan as an Investment Banker, and then moving into growth stage investing at TCV to private equity firm Vector Capital. About AnchorFree — what company does and what is it all about. As the finance leader for a company serving both consumer and enterprise customers, what challenges does he face and what the benefits are. How the transition from banking and investing into operating has been and what has surprised Alok the most. His Corp Dev role within the company, what it entails, and how strategic acquirers look at acquisitions vs private equity investors. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advise you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
34:28
June 26, 2019
Ep. 37: An Inside Look at Salesforce's $689M Acquisition of Buddy Media & Lessons Learned from Raising $150M+ with Oliver Bell, CFO at Springbot
Oliver Bell, CFO at Springbot On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Oliver about: His your journey into tech and finance over 15 years ago, with stints in companies like Google to Buddy Media, (acquired by Salesforce) to the SVP of Finance and Operations at Braze, prior to Oliver’s current gig as the CFO at SpringBot. SpringBot — what the company does and what is it all about and why he decided to join the company. The experience leading up to the Buddy Media acquisition and exiting to Salesforce for $689M. We go behind the scenes to the months leading up to the acquisition discussing things that Salesforce did really well as an acquirer and what could they have done better. Lessons learned from Oliver’s 4 years at Braze, leading 3 fundraising rounds, with $150M of total capital raised including Series E (Sept ’18) at a $850M valuation. During Oliver’s tenure, the company grew from 40 people and $5M ARR to 300 people.  The biggest misconception about the finance function within a technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advise you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing At Springbot, Oliver oversees Finance, Legal, HR, and Revenue Operations. Prior to Springbot, Oliver spent four years leading Finance and Operations at Braze (formerly Appboy) leading the company through multiple funding rounds including its most recent $80M raise in September 2018 at a $850M valuation. Before Braze, Oliver led the Revenue Operations team at BuddyMedia which was purchased by Salesforce for close to $700M in 2012. Post acquisition, he spent about three years leading a variety of teams inside the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. A Boston native, Oliver graduated from Harvard College, where he also received his MBA.
25:05
May 29, 2019
Ep. 36: Key Considerations + Metrics for Expanding a Localized Marketplace with Corey Noyek, Finance Manager at Platterz
Corey Noyek, Finance Manager at Platterz On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Corey about: His transition into tech and what made him decide to join the Platterz, from Deloitte. Platterz — what the company does and what is it all about. What metrics and KPIs are most important to running a localized marketplace across 10 different cities in Canada and the United States and the considerations to assess new market expansion. Learnings from raising Platterz $18M (CAD) Series A round. The importance of the finance function within a high growth technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advise you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
20:42
May 15, 2019
Ep. 35: Getting Dirt Underneath Your Fingers as an Operator with Tom Finn, VP Finance at Solstice
Tom Finn, VP Finance at Solstice On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Tom about: His 20+ year journey within tech and finance from Ireland. Solstice — what the company does and what is it all about. What it means for an operator to get dirt underneath their fingers.  The contrasting priorities of your first 100 days as a finance leader varies from an early stage company, where you are setting up the finance function for the first time to a growth stage company, where you are inheriting a finance function. The importance of the finance function within a high growth technology company? We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advise you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
22:59
May 1, 2019
Ep. 34: An Inside Look into Lightspeed's $275M+ IPO & Scaling a Global Organization
Brandon Nussey, Chief Financial Officer at Lightspeed POS At Lightspeed, Brandon oversees Finance, Legal, HR, IT and Payment Operations. He recently led Lightspeed’s $240M (CDN) IPO on the TSX, one of the largest in last 10 years on the TSX. Prior to Lightspeed, Brandon has held many senior finance positions, serving as the CFO of Desire2Learn, Tsavo Media and Descartes Systems Group. Brandon is an operationally minded CFO with experience in public markets, raising capital and M&A. Brandon obtained his CPA, CA designation while at KPMG and holds a Honours Business Administration Degree from Wilfred Laurier University. On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Brandon about: His journey into tech from KPMG to being in several CFO roles at various technology companies including the publicly-traded Descartes Systems Group, Desire2Learn and now Lightspeed HQ. Lightspeed and what the company does What its like to be a public company CFO and how that experience helps in subsequent roles of high growth technology companies. The process and the biggest learnings of taking Lightspeed public on the TSX and the lead up to it.  The considerations you have to evaluate, beyond strategic fit, when considering an acquisition. What it means to be a global organization from managing payroll across multiple jurisdictions or serving customers and dealing with cross-border tax issues.
24:59
April 17, 2019
Ep. 33: Behind the Scenes of SnapTravel's $21m Slam Dunk Series A from Steph Curry with Ankur Bansal, Head of Finance + Business Development
Ankur Bansal, Head of Finance and Business Development at SnapTravel On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Ankur about: His journey into tech after completing the trifecta of management consulting, investment banking and private equity, as well as being a co-founder with an exit to Groupon. SnapTravel — what the company does and what is it all about. Raising a debt round in conjunction with an equity round. What Steph Curry looks for in his investments. How his diverse background of investment banking, consulting and private equity, not to mention being a founder, helped him think about the finance at operations role at SnapTravel. The importance of the finance function at a technology company.
26:13
April 3, 2019
Ep. 32: A CFO Must Master Being a Capital Allocator with Sujeet Kini, CFO at Solium Capital
Sujeet Kini, CFO at Solium Capital On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Sujeet about: His 20+ years of experience in finance within tech  serving as the Chief Accounting Officer at OpenText and the Chief Financial Officer at Hootsuite, prior to his current role. Solium Capital — what the company does and what is it all about. Changes in technology that have benefitted the finance function in fulfilling their role as master capital allocators. Learnings as a public company finance leader and setting up a finance function from scratch at an early stage company to ensure its capable of going public one day. The importance of the finance function at a technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advise you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
37:58
March 20, 2019
Ep. 31: A Former Banker + Growth Investor Turned Operator on the Consequences of Raising Too Much Capital with Steve Isom, VP Finance at Flywheel
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Steve about: His journey into tech with stints in investment banking at Lazard, TD and Jeffries, buyside at North Bridge Growth Equity prior to making the jump to the operating side. Flywheel and what it’s all about. Transitioning between a sell side investment banker, to the buyside investing in growth stage tech companies and then operating. Considerations when determining the amount of capital to raise?(At Cybereason, Steve helped the company raise $100M from Softbank Flywheel raised $9M this year.) The importance of the finance function at a technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advise you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
34:10
March 6, 2019
Ep. 30: Customer + Revenue Churn at a SaaS Company with Recurring + Services Revenue w/ Cory Michalyshyn, CFO/COO at Solink
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Cory about: His journey into tech from audit at Deloitte to a Controller at Optelian, before making the switch to his current role at Solink. Solink and what its all about. Thinking through both revenue and customer churn at a company that generates revenue based on the number of locations; and if services revenue impacts pricing considerations.  The most challenging aspects of Cory’s role going from a full team of 13 to 55 in the last few years. His learnings from Solink’s most recent $5M equity raise and words of advice for finance leaders going through a raise process for the first time. The importance of the finance function at a technology company.
28:06
February 20, 2019
Ep. 29: The First 100 Days as a Finance Leader of a Venture-Backed Startup w/ Bryn Knox @ BenchSci
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Bryn about: His journey into tech including stints at Walt Disney Studios, Century Fox and Wave Financial, prior to his current role at BenchSci. Benchsci and what is it all about. His first 100 days and what he prioritized as a set up the finance function as the first finance hire at BenchSci, after the company had raised $8M Series A round. Effectively fulfilling a finance leader’s role as the “gatekeeper”, while optimizing for ROI.  The importance of the finance function at a technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advise you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
26:47
February 6, 2019
#28: Scaling a Finance Function of a High Growth Company with Strategic & Institutional Investors
featuring Tiffany Hsiao, VP Finance at Rubikloud. On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Tiffany about: Her time with PwC Vancouver and Melbourne where she worked on mining, real estate, infrastructure and manufacturing clients, prior to taking the plunge into tech at Rubikloud and what that transition was like for her. Rubikloud and what it’s all about. The biggest changes in her role as the company went through various rounds of financing, and the processes/procedures she had to put in place for the scaling finance function.  How she managed to serve the needs of both institutional and strategic investors.  Her learnings as a finance leader for a company that sells into enterprise organizations with long sales cycles. The importance of the finance function at a technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advise you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
21:25
January 23, 2019
Ep. 27: Raising a $27M Financing Round & Managing the Ever-Changing Priorities as CFO w/ Dave Pooley
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Dave about: His journey into technology with stints at Miovision, Fibernetrics and Kitchener-Waterloo based accelerator, Communitech, prior to joining Axonify. Axonify and what its all about. Serving the enterprise market and what that means what considerations the finance leader has to make, including the size of investment round and choosing the right investor. Managing the ever-changing priorities as the CFO, and how priorities change in a smaller organization to a larger one. The importance of the finance function at a technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related Your favourite productivity hack Tech jargon that makes you cringe The best advise you’ve received One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
34:34
January 9, 2019
Special: Exploring a Revolutionary Revenue Model for Education w/ Austen Allred, CEO @ Lambda School
Joining me on this special episode of the Backbone is Austen Allred, Co-Founder and CEO of Lambda School - a training program specializing in coding, computer science, and web development, with a revolutionary tuition model that asks graduates to pay once they land a successful job. I chat with Austen about: 1. His journey so far and how it was instrumental in the founding of Lambda School in 2016. 2. Lambda School and what it's all about. How Lambda School challenges traditional the university structure? 3. Employers, credentialing candidates and educating employers to focus on hiring candidates whose experiences and skills best suit them for the job.  4. Some of the financial challenges and risks associated with Lambda School's revenue model and how to raise capital for such a model? (Lambda School has a unique revenue model in that the company does not require students to pay up front for their training. Instead they are taking a bet on the student's career prospects for the first 2 years after they graduate Lambda School, to take a % of their earnings.) 5. Whether Lambda School would consider expanding its offering over time, to other aspects of training such as sales, marketing, and finance? We close things off with a quickfire round: - Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related - Your favourite productivity hack - Tech jargon that makes you cringe - The best advise you've received - One thing you don't leave the office before finishing
18:42
December 19, 2018
Ep. 26: Raising a $32M Growth Round + the Symbiotic Relationship Between Finance & Operations
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Samiksha about: - Her path into technology and comparing working in large companies with fast-growing tech companies. We also chat about her international experiences in Melbourne and Auckland. - Uberflip and what it's all about. - Lessons learned from Uberflip's $32M growth financing round led by Updata Partners and what it means to balance raise process with day-to-day responsibilities as the VP Finance and Ops. - The symbiotic relationship between Finance and Operations. - The importance of the finance function at a technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: - Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related - Your favourite productivity hack - Tech jargon that makes you cringe - The best advise you've received - One thing you don't leave the office before finishing
24:07
December 5, 2018
Ep. 25: Correlating Non-Financial Metrics into Financial Outcomes + More w/ Trisha Egberts @ Figure1
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Trisha about: - Her path into health and technology after starting her career at PwC, and moving to CAMH - the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health before jumping into tech and at her current role as Finance Manager at Figure1. - Figure1 and what it's all about. - The most important metrics to track for the largest crowd-sourced medical platform and how to correlate non-financial metrics into financial outcomes. - The challenges of balancing ad-load and monetizing through sponsored content. - The importance of the finance function at a technology company. We close things off with a quickfire round: - Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related - Your favourite productivity hack - Tech jargon that makes you cringe - The best advise you've received - One thing you don't leave the office before finishing
21:12
November 14, 2018
Episode 24: Learnings from Starting and Shutting Down a Startup + Balancing Multiple Product Stakeholders with Mark Jarvie, VP Finance at Drop
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Mark about: His journey into tech after being an auditor and investment banker at EY, then moving leading finance at Shomi, prior to joining Drop; What Drop is all about; Balancing Drop's various stakeholders including consumers and brands and how Mark thinks about those that generate revenue for Drop (brands) versus consumers who use Drop for free; The valuable lessons from Shomi as one of its earliest employees on the project to shutting it down; The importance of the finance function at a technology company.
27:02
October 30, 2018
Episode 23: Learnings from Raising/Exiting $700M+ in Deal Value for Software + Hardware and the Importance of a People-First Approach in Finance with David Brennan, Chief Financial Officer at Ecobee
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with David about: What he attributes to being a part of many technology success stories and the advice he'd impart on finance leaders. The biggest difference between software and hardware technology companies and how it effects the capital raise or acquisition process? What Ecobee is all about, and how it became a global brand in home automation. About his passion towards people and their role in organizations; why its important in scaling organizations and why he cares so deeply about it as the finance leader? The importance of the finance function at a technology company.
30:02
October 16, 2018
Episode 22: Raising $47M from Strategic vs Traditional VC & the Level of Finance Leader to Hire at Each Stage of a Company's Evolution with Danielle Cerisano, VP Finance at League
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Danielle about: Her progression within finance at tech companies such as: BluePrint Software Systems, Goldmoney and others, before joining League; League and what its all about; Raising from a $47M USD financing round from a strategic VC firm vs a traditional venture capital fund;  Dealing with the challenges of the various stakeholders (employers, administrators, and plan members) the company's products and services serves; When should a company hire a controller, vs a Director of Finance vs a VP or a CFO?
26:04
October 3, 2018
Episode 21: Using Analytics and Predictive Models to Improve Budgeting + the Role of Attribution in Assessing Digital Marketing ROI with Emma Lyndon, CFO at Canopy Labs
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Emma about: Her journey into tech with stints at eBay, Kaboose, and Ariad Communications prior to her gig at Canopy Labs; What Canopy Labs is all about; Taking advantage of analytics and predictive models to improve the budgeting process; The role of attribution in assessing digital marketing ROI; The evolving role of the Finance leader within a technology company and it is much more than just making sure the books are in good order.
20:33
September 12, 2018
Episode 20: Considerations for CAC and Churn in a Self-Serve Pricing Model with Matt Dove, VP FInance at Celtx
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Matt about: His move into tech after stints in PwC Nova Scotia and Australia; What Celtx is all about; The biggest challenge for you moving from a professional services firm to a growing technology company like Celtx; How to think about customer acquisition and churn at a company with a self service pricing model; The importance of the finance function at a technology company
25:51
August 1, 2018
Episode 19: The Journey of Raising $100M ICO (Initial Coin Offering) as a Venture-Backed Unicorn with Brandon Brunet, Controller at Kik
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Brandon about: His move into tech from PwC to joining Kik when it was only 40 employees; What Kik is all about; The process of raising $100M through a Token Distribution Event or Initial Coin Offering (ICO) and launching your own cryptocurrency; What its like to scale the finance function as a company grows from 40 people to 160 The importance of the finance function at a technology company
25:23
June 27, 2018
Episode 18: Bootstrapped to $12M Series A & What it Means for the Finance Function with Jennifer Pollock, Director of Finance & Operations at RateHub
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Jennifer about: Her move into tech from EY and concurrently managing various brands at Ratehub; What Ratehub is all about; The learnings from raising a $12M Series A round; The biggest change as a finance leader of venture-funded company The importance of the finance function at a technology company
22:05
May 30, 2018
Episode 17: The Added Complexities of Hardware Tech Companies & How to Price a New Medical Device with Travis Phung, Director of Finance & Administration at Exact Imaging
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Travis about: His unique journey to Exact Imaging from KPMG and how he got started in finance within the technology industry; What Exact Imaging is all about; The challenges of leading finance for a hardware technology company vs software; The pricing considerations for a new MedTech hardware device; The importance of the finance function at a technology company
31:08
May 9, 2018
Episode 16: Monetizing a Free Product & Navigating Complexities of the Financial Services Space with Brian Wu, Finance Lead at Borrowell
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Brian about: His journey to Borrowell from CIBC and how he got started in finance within the software industry; What Borrowell is all about; Monetizing a free product; Managing the complexities of operating in the highly regulated FinTech space; and The importance of the finance function at a technology company
20:38
April 25, 2018
Episode 15: Serving the Restaurant Industry & Breaking Into Tech in a Finance Capacity with Rob Curcio, Director of Finance at TouchBistro
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Rob about: His journey to TouchBistro and how he got started in finance within the software industry; What TouchBistro is all about; Unique opportunities and challenges you face being the finance leader of a company serving the restaurant space; Breaking into the tech industry in a finance capacity; and the importance of the finance function at a technology company
28:27
April 11, 2018
Episode 14: Scaling the Finance Function, Fundraising, Making Acquisitions & Operationalizing Metrics with Ryan Magee, CFO at Cority
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Ryan about: His journey to Cority and how he got started in finance within the software industry;  What Cority (formerly Medgate) is all about; Scaling the finance function as the company grows from 80 employees to 300+ employees; Raising a large round of capital and making 2 acquisitions; Operationalizing metrics within the organization and The importance of the finance function at a technology company.
32:17
March 28, 2018
Episode 13: Serving the SMB Market at a Publicly Traded Software Company vs a High-Growth Startup with Darren Wood, Director of Finance & Operations at Jobber
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Darren about: His journey from Intuit to Jobber and how he got started in finance within the software industry;  What Jobber is all about; The differences between his experience of working in finance for a large publicly traded company to leading the finance function of high growth venture backed startup; The unique opportunities and challenges he faces being the finance leader of a company serving the SMB space; and The importance of the finance function at an early stage technology company.
28:57
July 12, 2017
Leading Finance at NPOs to High Growth Tech & Bootstrapping vs Raising Venture Capital with Anthony Scolaro, VP Finance & Operations at Lucova
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Anthony about: His involvement with Lucova and how he became the VP Finance & Operations; What Lucova is all about and what it does; The similarities and differences between running finance at a NPO vs a high growth tech startup; The considerations for bootstrapping vs raising venture capital; and the importance of the finance function at an early stage technology company
20:52
June 7, 2017
Raising $17M Series A Round & What it Means to be ‘Venture-Backed’ with Frank Jessop, Director of Finance at Sensibill
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Frank about: His path to Sensibill; What Sensibill does; What it takes to put together a large $17M Series A round for a FinTech startup; The meaning of being ‘venture-backed’ beyond having money in the bank; and The importance of the finance function at an early stage technology company
18:28
May 17, 2017
Vendor Selection Considerations & Viewing the Finance Function from an Engineering Perspective with Gerti Dervishi, VP Finance at Flybits
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Gerti about: His path to Flybits after roles in CIBC, IBM and the government; What Flybits does; Staying flexible with vendors and not placing heavy reliance on any particular vendor; Viewing the finance function from engineering perspective; and The importance of the finance function at an early stage technology company.
23:24
April 26, 2017
The Process of Acquiring Companies as a Startup & Best Practices for Investor Relations with Ryan Levenberg, VP Finance  at  Q4 Systems Inc.
On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Ryan about: His journey into tech and startups and from his university startup to PwC and now Q4 Inc.; What Q4 Inc is all about; What it’s like to make 3 acquisitions as a startup having raised $25M; Best practices for maintaining strong investor relations; and the importance of the finance function at an early stage technology company
24:26
April 19, 2017
Raising VC Funding to Executing an $110M Acquisition + Demystifying the Progressive Roles of the Finance Leader within a Startup with Dwayne Walker, CFO at LookbookHQ
On this episode of The Backbone, Dwayne Walker, CFO at LookbookHQ discusses: His journey into tech and startups and his progression from Controller to CFO; What LookbookHQ does; Raising $50M in venture capital funding and orchestrating a $110M exit to a publicly traded company; Demystifying finance leader jargon: the differences between Controller, Director, VP and CFO; What makes a great finance leader; and The importance of the finance function at an early stage technology company
31:00
April 12, 2017
Going Through an Acquisition of an eCommerce Company & Keeping Both Sides of a Marketplace Happy with Elena Armstrong, Co-Founder & VP Finance at Exact Media
On this episode of The Backbone, Elena Armstrong, Co-Founder & VP Finance at Exact Media discusses: her journey into tech and startups and from public accounting at Ernst & Young; what Exact Media is all about; what it was like to go through an acquisition; the challenges of leading finance and keeping both sides of a marketplace company happy; and the importance of the finance function at an early stage technology company
21:21
April 5, 2017
From Finance to Founding an IoT Startup & Bootstrapping vs. Raising Venture Capital with Sacha Sawaya, Co-Founder and CFO at Litmus Automation
On this episode of The Backbone, Sacha Sawaya, Co-Founder and CFO at Litmus Automation discusses: His journey into tech and co-founding Litmus, after roles in investment banking, asset management and finance; What Litmus Automation does; The challenges of founding an IoT company with a background in finance and things he would do differently if he could do it over again; Bootstrapping vs raising venture capital funding and making the most of the funds you raise; The importance of the finance function at an early stage technology company
26:13
March 29, 2017
Difference Between Being an Advisor vs Finance Leader for Tech Startups & When to Raise Capital with Eugene Bomba, CFO & VP Operations at ThoughtWire
On this episode of The Backbone, Eugene Bomba, CFO and VP Operations at ThoughtWire discusses: How he got started in the tech scene and his involvement in the startup ecosystem for a long time both as an operator and and advisor; What ThoughtWire is does and is all about; How’s it being back in the CFO seat; The biggest differences between being an advisor for tech startups to being the finance leader of a fast growth tech company; Considerations you make when deciding whether to raise capital or not; The importance of the finance function at an early stage technology company
21:15
March 22, 2017
Transitioning from Professional Services to Finance Leader of Pre-Revenue Tech Startup with Chris Parkes, CFO at NuraLogix
On this episode of The Backbone, Chris Parkes (CFO at NuraLogix) discusses: His journey into tech and becoming CFO at NuraLogix from his role at PwC’s Emerging Company Services group; What NuraLogix does; Why a pre-revenue company requires a finance leader; The importance of the finance function at an early stage technology company; The transition process Chris went through going from a professional services firm to being the finance leader of a tech startup
26:48
March 15, 2017
Why Finance & Operations go Together & Dealing with the Highly Regulated Financial Services Industry with Leen Li, Head of Finance at Wealthsimple
On this episode of The Backbone, Leen Li (Head of Finance at Wealthsimple) discusses: Her journey into tech, after stints starting with Eloqua, Influitive and now leading finance at Wealthsimple ; What Wealthsimple does; The challenges she faces operating in the highly regulated financial services industry; Why Finance and Operations tend to go hand in hand at early and growth stage technology companies; The importance of the finance function at an early stage technology company
22:29
March 1, 2017
How Finance Scales Growing from 25 to 200+ Employees & Transfer Pricing with Les Cullen, Director of Finance & Operations at TopHat
On this episode of The Backbone, Les Cullen (Director of Finance & Operations at TopHat) discusses: His journey to TopHat and his move to Toronto from Waterloo; What Tophat does; How a company’s finance function has to scale as it grows from 25 employees to over 200+; Unique challenges (from a finance perspective) that Les has encountered as the company start selling its products globally, such as dealing with transfer pricing; and the importance of the finance function at an early stage technology company
23:19
February 22, 2017
Managing Churn & Being Private Equity Backed with Daniel Israelsohn, VP Finance & Operations at Firmex
Daniel Israelsohn, VP Finance & Operations at Firmex shares his story from his days at PwC into the world tech startups. He discusses the importance of churn in a SaaS based businesses and what it means be backed by one of Canada's leading private equity funds - Novacap.
28:30
February 15, 2017
Introducing the Backbone: a journey inside finance at a startup
The Backbone is launching soon! Each episode will feature a finance leader (Director/VP, Finance or CFO) that: shares their story of how they entered the world of startups, explains what their company does; describes unique challenges he/she faces in their role; shares expertise relating to specific topics on the mind of finance leaders, such as: preparing for board meetings, determining the key metrics to monitor, when to think about raising capital, amongst other things. Be sure to subscribe and visit www.thebackbone.xyz for more details.
02:00
February 14, 2017