Q & A | Radboud Vlaar, Managing Partner at Finch Capital

What should be my priorities as a CEO Founder? – Being a CEO at a tech startup is a very tough job. You work on average about 300 days a year with 14 hours a day. That is 4’200 hours a year and the worst is for most CEOs that is not enough. You are constantly under time pressure and need to make sure you allocate enough time and resources to the things that matter most:

  • Shape winning strategy and vision to excite talent and investors
  • Hire top talent and build a great culture to outperform execution
  • Fundraise to have more cash than competition to leapfrog

How often should I change senior management? – Bringing in new senior management during the lifetime of a company is almost inevitable. Given that the company evolves, it requires different types of skill sets at different points in time. In our experience it makes sense to hire each 6- 12 months one new senior management member and revisit each 12 months the entire team and role.

When is a good moment to bring in a CFO? – There is no golden answer to this question as the right moment depends on a couple of aspects and starts at the early stages with a founder also doing Finance. Then at series A, we typically see a dedicated CFO, also doing other work and projects, to a dedicated pure CFO as of 10 mio revenues and up.

How to do B2B sales in a lock down world? – B2B sales is hard for early stage companies that target an international market and lack an international sales and brand. We see, however several companies, successfully doing new sales, by leveraging:

  • Partnerships for sales and implementation, especially ones that have a local presence, brand or an exciting relationship
  • Reduce barriers for a pilot, by having better demo products, apps
  • Digital case examples and reference clients, now more than ever having a superior digital presence will help to generate lead and build trust among prospects
  • Build in sufficient get to know each other moments, in stead of a social meeting, have more pre sales meetings via Zoom, start not directly with the Presentation, but build in sufficient time at the start to get to know eachother and do an intro.  

Should I consider M&A to grow? – M&A is definitely an attractive option to grow, especially during lockdowns as it can give access to new clients or CEOs, next to that can provide access to new capabilities. We believe you need to be careful with buying distressed companies as might be cheaper to hire talent away and organically win clients, as distressed assets can also drift away focus and attention.

What would you advise an entrepreneur who has received significant investment but believes to survive needs to pivot both the business and the brand? – Inform your investors on the plan, don’t be sneaky, they will appreciate your transparency and most likely will support you as better to pivot that to spend the money unwisely. Than go fully for it and stop all unneeded spend.

‘The country that wins the AI battles of the future will set the international order’ (Alex Karp, CEO of Palantir) Do you agree? – Think the time countries set the international order is over in a digital world, companies and protocols will do.

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