How Startup Basis Hit the Ground Running with airCFO as their Accounting,
Finance and Tax Partner
airCFO's Alex Wittenburg conducted a brief interview with Basis' CEO and Co-Founder, Bebe Kim. Basis is a financial planning application that helps companies pull all their financial data together to analyze, build reports and plan forward.
Bebe, as an operator building a financial tool, is naturally vigilant about finances.
Below is what Bebe has to say about how airCFO helped get Basis off on the right track financially. You can also see the full video interview here:
Bebe Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of Basis.so Interviewed by Alex Wittenberg, COO of airCFO
Q. What did your accounting and finance function look like when you first started working with airCFO?
This is my third company. I had the privilege of starting out day 1 with $4m in investment, so managing money right from the get-go was very important. We hire quickly and without airCFO initially, we just had a corporate credit card and were randomly paying invoices here and there. Essentially we were flying blind - we didn't really know what was going on except for logging into our SPV checking account and checking how much money we have left over the year.
Q. What were some of the biggest pain points you experienced at that point in your company journey, and how did airCFO help solve those?
There are several processes that were not structured that are very, very important as you scale. One is the accounts payable process. Again, we just had bills to pay whether it's through payroll or not payroll, vendor payments everywhere. Then, there is internal bookkeeping. For any seasoned operator, it's really important to stay on top of your PnL (Profit and Loss) and be able to manage your company's resources. Without bookkeeping, that's not possible. So, starting off right off the bat, those two processes were really important to professionalize.
Q. What were some of the key results that came about as a result of your work with the airCFO team?
At the beginning of a startup and for a very long time, if there's a lot of work but not enough to hire a full-time finance person, it usually falls on the CEO to do that work. That takes away from the mind space to grow the business which is supposed to be the CEO's main workflow. By using a fractional finance service, specifically airCFO, I was able to free a lot of mental space to go focus on growing the team and product.
Q. I know you are very aware of the main players in the startup finance and accounting space. Could you speak for a minute about how airCFO compares and contrasts with some of the other companies offering similar services to startups like yourself?
I look at two aspects, one is budget and the other is competency. So from a budget perspective, prices really vary. For example, you can contract directly with someone offshore for an extremely low cost but the management of that is actually pretty significant to be able to QA the work and whatnot. I did not go with that approach and I strongly suggest that unless you are, for some reason, prioritizing optimizing this cost, that's not the route you go. And on the extreme another end, almost like law firm prices, where shops charge around eight thousand dollars a month to fully cover everything, that to me is like the high end of the budget and it's not something that most startups have the budget to allocate at this time. To me, airCFO represents the right balance in cost-effectiveness, very cost-friendly but also very effective. Everyone I work with is an accounting major, English speaking, and works on US hours and I really appreciate that. On the specialization side, accountants actually are trained to work for different types of businesses. A venture-backed startup is a unique type of business that speaks its own language, has typical vendors that are very technology-driven, and if you use a main street accounting firm that does not work in tech, they may not know what these vendors are and can have a lot of questions there. So I think it's very important to work with a CFO service that specializes in tech. For me, airCFO checks both boxes, and there are actually not that many shops that do.
Q. What is the specific aspect that you enjoy most about working with the airCFO team now that you've been on board for about a year at this point?
It's very important that this type of team is embedded in the main team because this is core operations, after all. Even though it's fractional, it's not completely outsourced and what I like about airCFO is that they work in a way that feels very much like they are on our team. They're in our slacks, they're in our emails, they are wherever we are. It is extremely important to feel that this core part of the company is being handled properly.
Q. So you mentioned the time savings that result from working with a company like airCFO that can take the accounting and bookkeeping off your plate. What has your team been able to accomplish with the time and money that you saved from working with airCFO that has potentially helped you accelerate the business to a greater extent?
It really allows us to minimize contact switching. Accounting sounds simple but it requires a totally different mindset; you have to log in to many different tools to pull reports and get everything together. That time saved could be a couple of hours here and there but adds up every day. We're able to all just focus on our product sprints and get to market quickly. We have our big product launch coming up that we are excited about and we have been working on all these other miscellaneous tasks. It would've weighed us down, for sure.
Q. Would you recommend airCFO to any early-stage founder looking for finance and accounting help, and if so, why would you recommend them?
Absolutely! I have already recommended airCFO to many founders and they've also worked with you guys for about a year now and I've heard great things from them as well, so I absolutely do. To reiterate, it's because you guys have a very reasonable cost structure, work as an embedded team fractionally in people's companies, and not the other way around, making the management of that relationship frictionless. Also, you guys come with domain knowledge - you are well-versed in tools like Slack, Notion, and new finance products like Ramp and Brex. We don't have to tell you what they are and you're willing to pick it up and run with it. That has been extremely culturally compatible for us and for the companies we've recommended.
Q. What is one thing that you want someone who is considering using airCFO to know about the work that we do?
I would go back to this cultural compatibility of hitting the ground running with the company. I think that's just great. There is no ramp time and you really feel like your finance stack is in order. So if you're considering airCFO as an accounting option, I would absolutely go for it. Not only are they cost-effective but they're culturally compatible to understand that they need to be hitting the ground running and letting you do your best work which is not back-office operations.
Q. Is there anything else that you'd like to add about your experience with airCFO?
I use your tax function too, which is a separate team. They have specialized knowledge in tax. They're very much connected with the other team so I don't have to explain things twice. They're on top of things like the R&D credit applications, and things that I care about that should be done - it is getting done. I have full faith in that team as well.
The airCFO team thanks Bebe Kim for her time and is looking forward to being along for the ride as Basis continues its startup journey.
Feel free to schedule a call with one of airCFO's advisors for tailor-fitted solutions based on your startup business's accounting, tax, and finance needs
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