Crowdfunding platform Crowdcube has seen a lot of money fall into their coffers lately. Recently they raised a funding round, which included 3.8m through Balderton capital and 1.2m on its own platform.
All this extra revenue has made the startup a dynamic place to be a CFO, in this case Bill Simmons. As the company has grown – doubling the number of employees in the last few months – he has seen listed “managing growth” as one of his key challenges.
He says: “It’s about managing change. Now that we’ve taken the pressure off the business with some new investment, we need to manage that growth.” He says, describing one of his most pressing responsibilities. But: “It’s why I joined Crowdcube.”
Simmons’s career as CFO started at Myspace, where he was head of the international financial department based in London. After that he worked at Rated People, a service platform for tradesmen, during its popular advertising campaign and brand-building initiative.
It was while working at a series of startups after that that he found the niche he most enjoys. He says: “You’re not just there to count numbers – you’re there to really have a say in what that business does.
“It’s a very dynamic environment. You’re forced to test our new ideas and measure those impacts. I’m a very data-driven person, so it’s perfect for me.
“With CrowdCube, I also think what we do is inspiring. I love ‘the crowd’ as a way to open up the potential for businesses to earn money; for businesses to to get access to investors they couldn’t before.”
As CFO of a startup, he advocates taking a cross-disciplinary approach to his job. “[I see] my role as about getting involved in different departments. The last thing you want to do is close down silos and make everything departmental. Everyone has a role to play in managing growth.”
As such, he is currently occupied with Crowdcube’s newest initiative: a branding campaign to create an increased presence in the crowdfunding VC market. Even though this lies outside of his training as an accountant, he describes it as the only real way to understand a business, inside and out.
Why work at a startup at all? Simmons says: “I’ve have a passion for new technology and really enjoy start-ups that are trying to change/disrupt the status quo.
“As a CFO in a new business you get the opportunity to work across multiple disciplines and have a real influence on success. This is much harder to achieve in a larger, more established business.”