When should you hire a CFO and what would be their key responsibilities?

Oliver Hutaff / November, 2017


Oliver Hutaff, CFO/COO at Electric Imp explains when it would be a good time to hire a CFO/COO and how that role would look like.

Video Transcript

When should you hire a CFO and what would be their key responsibilities?

So I think a question about when to hire a CFO and what the responsibilities are, are very closely related. I’ve seen CFOs start to get hired earlier in startups. Part of that is around startups raising more money early on, they’re taking on venture capitalist earlier on. Part of it is startups have more complex business models than they did historically. So on some level, I think it depends but typically, if you’ve raised capital, you’re trying to start making the right investments.

I think that I’m seeing CFOs come in and I came into Electric Imp. immediately about a year after the series A round. Part of it also is, if you’re bringing somebody in that early and historically that might be a little early for CFO. If you’re bringing somebody in that early, you need to make sure they have the right profile and you task them with the right things.

Bring in a CFO who’s going to be the best account in the world in an early stage company, is not necessarily going to be a valuable thing because it’s just not enough for a CFO of that form to do coming into a company that early. If you bring in a CFO who is very focused on the operations of the business, what’s the strategy and driving the execution of strategy and the implementation, I think that’s where it starts to make a lot of sense to bring one in early.

I am both the CFO and the COO at Electric Imp. and part of that was when I came in, there were certain things around financial discipline and reporting that I put in place early on it just for the operating environment. But that wasn’t a full-time job so a lot of it for me really was around how do you help make this business successful by making sure all the operations of the business are lined up to the strategy and lined up to deliver the results that we’ve committed to our board. I think it also changes the nature of who do you bring in and what role do they play because I think it has to be a much more hands-on and operational role for CFO coming into an early stage company.



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