Last week I spent three days in the Valley as part of The C100’s 48 hours in the valley program. Normally when I’m in the valley, I’m either fund raising or working with customers. It was refreshing to spend a few days absorbing the energy of fellow entrepreneurs and “relaxing” through sessions.
This is a post to summarize two parts that stood out for me
1) I loved the CFO fireside chat with Mike Dinsdale from DocuSign and Alan Black from Zendesk . The consensus was that at 40-50 employees, a CEO/Founder should hire a full-time CFO. Being the CEO can sometimes be a lonely position. You are the only person in the entire company that sees everything (for better or for worse). In many cases, the CFO becomes your closest confidant and key strategic business partner. They can be the only other person who sees everything. At 12 people, we clearly don’t need a CFO yet, but I took a piece from the Strangeloop CEO’s playbook and hired a Director of Finance & Operations as one of our first employees. Right now she is our accountant, office manager, trusted CEO confidant, head of hiring, and head of culture and company programs. It’s a big role, and one we are lucky to have filled with such a confident and intelligent CA as Tiff. As a CEO if you think a start-up is only about writing code then you’re not looking at the other part of your business- the people.
2) CANADIANS NEED TO BE BOLDER. This was a consistent theme that started with Jonathan Ehrlich from Foundation Capital and ended with Don Listwin. I completely agree. I can’t count the number of times I meet fellow Canadian entrepreneurs who downplay their current traction, strengths, and overall big hairy goal. Valley entrepreneurs tend to get a rep for being arrogant and over confident. We certainly don’t want that. Humility is important, but don’t be scared to share your bold vision.
Whether we fail or succeed, we’ve always been aggressive about our goals. We believe the entire retail software stack is going to change (both online and offline). Retailers who do not adopt data science to understand their customers and make decisions will lose market share and eventually lose to their competition. We want to become the leading intelligence platform for retailers in 5 years. Omniture, Core Metrics, current CRM’s like Siebel, and conversion consultants are all in the process of being disrupted. It will be a rollercoaster ride but Rubikloud and many other start-ups like us will not stop until the industry has changed.
Thanks to the 48hours team for a great event and reminding the 16 Canadian companies that getting figuratively punched in the face everyday as an entrepreneur is the only way to live!