One year ago today Pegafund was launched. What an adventure. The first half of 2021 has been the most thrilling as our customers, team, community continue to grow.
I wanted to use today as an opportunity to reflect on key learnings from being a Modern CFO, European SaaS scaleup operator, and first-time entrepreneur. We often live so much in the present (and future) that it is also important to reflect on the recurring patterns from the past.
Market timing and people are the key ingredients to success
Like many of the high growth European SaaS scaleups we work with, COVID-19 has provided CFO services a strong tailwind as the role and value of growth planning has been elevated within an organization – it has become a “need to have” for ambitious, high growth scaleups.
In times of uncertainty, companies struggle the most with revenue visibility and predictability. To enable scalable growth and thrive in uncertainty, a business needs to be agile – this requires having a very tight integration between go-to market and funding strategy, organizational design and headcount plan, information flow and measurement of performance, and operating systems that scale. The faster the desired growth, the more integrated a growth plan needed.
Since 2020, we have:
Supported 4 European SaaS scaleups towards a fundraise or exit
Built fully integrated (top-down and bottoms-up) growth plans using our Financial Sprint methodology delivered in-person and remotely using Miro
Delivered 592 hours of day-to-day execution of operational CFO services. This includes educating scaleup leaders on public and private financial markets, scaleup funding options and related economic & control considerations, SaaS metrics and implications on product-market and go-to market decisions, as well as the nuances of SaaS accruals-based accounting and reporting.
During the same time period, our team grew from a solo founder to 8 people fully remote and distributed across Europe, the UK, and the US. All of us are extremely grateful for the incredible advisors and supportive community of over 100 individuals who have generously shared their valuable expertise, network, and time to help grow Pegafund. Relationships, trust, and paying-it-forward is what makes our vibrant ecosystem grow exponentially. And we could not have done it without you, so thank you.
Data, business intelligence and people systems are what separates startups from scaleups
“Measure everything that matters” and “no conflict, no interest” – these are a couple of the most memorable quotes from my early venture days in 2015. Startups struggle to scale from being a “family” to a high performing “sports team” often because they are not tracking the right data, inexperienced in deriving the right insights, and not communicating those insights to the right people at the right time. This is the #1 reason why few European scaleups make it past Series B to be a global category leader. The faster a startup grows, the messier it is operationally – and the only way to “unwind” that mess is to have a single source of truth across the business and to increase the quality & speed of information flow. This is done through SaaS metrics and distributed budgets where functional leaders need to build the internal business case and are then held accountable for their decisions. The right time to do this is post product-market fit and before a large institutional funding round. Finance, Operations, and Human Resources can help design and execute this shift and organisational change.