Head of Finance at <50 person company: How much fundraising?

I applied for a Head of Finance role at a small company (<50 employees) and just had a pretty good interview with the recruiter. My background is a 8 years of FP&A at a F250 (rotational development program out of undergrad), with the last 3 years at the managerial level and I just finished a T20 MBA. I won't get into my background at a F250, but I know it's not typical of what they look for as smaller companies. I'd say my experience is pretty unique for a corporate career and I've had significant experience being the right-hand man for an SVP in a pretty unstructured and fast-paced environment, and I feel adequately prepared to be that person for the CEO of this business. I know it's pretty different, but I believe I have all the right skills to execute the role well except raising capital. I have basically no experience with this, and the recruiter did mention that other candidates have more of an edge in this regard. But he also indicated the CEO had reviewed my application and was interested, and the interview went well and he wants to set up time for me to chat with the CEO. 

My question to you guys who may be more familiar with smaller companies is this: how much of the role is fundraising? And how much of "fundraising" is learnable (vs. just having connections)? I will say that one of the co-CEOs has an MBA and has been handling finance to date (no prior CFO/head of finance at the company), so it's not like it's run by the original programmer who knows nothing about finance. It sounds like she just doesn't have the bandwidth to give finance the proper attention. So I'm hopeful that this gap isn't a dealbreaker and that I can take everything else off her plate, but lean on her experience here until I get up to speed on that aspect of the role. 

The job posting only had one bullet related to raising capital, but the recruiter let on that it's definitely on their mind. I'm trying to get my expectations right before I chat with the co-CEO so we can have a productive conversation. 

Thoughts? I appreciate any insight you guys have!

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Comments (6)

Most Helpful
Sep 9, 2021 - 11:12am

I dabble in that size universe. The CFOs I've worked with had a big role in capital raising but not always the leading role if that makes sense. Was more of a C-suite collaborative effort with everyone pitching in. The CFOs were also involved in or responsible for sourcing debt and bank facilities if the company is at that scale.

I wouldn't stress, fundraising isn't rocket science. Depending on the industry and niche of course, I think you'll find that there are enough pockets of capital to source from and build relationships with. Particularly now when there is so much dry powder out there in the private capital sphere. It's more important to gauge what kind of capital and structure are the right fit for your company.

There are really two aspects to fundraising experience - sourcing/relationships and execution. I would just consider setting the expectations around your sourcing network when you get to that point but offsetting with any execution experience you have.

Sep 10, 2021 - 2:37pm

Thanks for the input! That kind of confirms my thoughts on it. I feel quite capable to learning that side of the ball with some coaching from the co-CEO who has been managing it so far. Otherwise, I feel quite well-prepared for the other aspects of the role. I did make it clear to the recruiter that I don't have the network for fundraising, but highlighted the aspects of my experience that set me up to execute the other duties at a high level. The co-CEO wants to meet so it looks like the lack of experience in this area hasn't disqualified me so far!

Sep 10, 2021 - 9:05am

Do you know the revenue of the company?  I think you should try to get this info before jumping into this company regardless, but that would be another good indicator of the type of funding they may need going forward.  

Sep 10, 2021 - 2:38pm

They said they are hoping to hit $50M revenue this year. I did not talk to the recruiter about what round of fundraising they've gone through yet, but that is certainly a question I'll pose to the CEO to get a better perspective. 

Sep 14, 2021 - 6:42am

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