Time To BuildJuly 21, 2023
Starting a company had been a pretty clear goal in my mind for years. My grandparents on both sides were small business owners, as were my parents. My oldest brother leads the business my parents started and my other brother started a company of his own, sold it, and is now on his second venture. I admire the fact that they run (and ran) complex, successful businesses while balancing family life and friendships. Growing up with that background made starting my own company always seem not just achievable, but the obvious path to follow. I’m finally doing it.
In a way, my whole career has been about gearing up to this moment, from the internships I did in college, to my years building data platforms at Apple and fueling the rocketship at Vouch. I had gathered the skills along the way, but in my excitement to get going I realized that while I was eager I didn’t have a real business problem to solve, or anyone to solve it with.
Finding an idea and co-founders was tough. (What can I say? I’m picky.) I probably held hundreds of conversations between speed-dating style sessions to in-person happy hours and casual coffee chats. I spent hours poring over profiles on matching platforms, and read and wrote many, many, cold emails. I could write a whole separate blog post about the process. Over the course of almost a year I studied problems across many industries and seriously considered around 10 partnerships. Those didn’t work out because of logistics, timing, interest or values alignment, which at the time was disappointing. To get to those near-miss candidates, many of whom I now call friends, required a lot of effort. Finally, a mutual connection led me to Mary and Kelsey.
Mary and Kelsey spent years leading accounting and finance teams before meeting at Flexport, where they built the accounting function together. Across many companies the two of them ran into the same problem: preparing financial statements was manual, tedious, and required specialized knowledge to get right. I was initially skeptical, knowing nothing about technical accounting. I had not even thought about the fact that someone has to put together the statements that public companies file with the SEC or the equivalent documents that private companies hand to their investors and banking partners. I asked Mary and Kelsey to let me join a few user research calls before committing. In each of those calls, controllers and accounting leaders told us how much time and effort they were putting into solving this for their companies, and how little they enjoyed that part of the work. It was immediately obvious that there was a business to be built there. The market and the opportunity to work with two impressive co-founders pulled me in.
Today, finance teams prepare their financials using Word, Excel, and a whole lot of human effort. We’re seeking to change that with modern digital tools, enabling companies to focus on the future, trusting that our tools can help them understand the past. Solving this will require me to level up my business operations and accounting skills, but at its core we’re solving a problem rooted in applied data engineering and knowledge management, skills which I’ve spent 10+ years learning. Recent advances in software and artificial intelligence will fundamentally change how businesses think about their financials, and we’ll play a big part in making that happen.
We’ve signed up our first design partners, and will spend the summer heads-down building the first iterations of our product. We’re hiring founding full-stack engineers, and are taking on a few more early customers. If you, or someone you know, might be interested, shoot me a note.
Photo: Time to build, by me. Previously posted on H1 ‘23 Variety Pack.
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