by Toby Krout Executive Director
It was our great honor to be featured recently in the Wall Street Journal for our strong emphasis on startup finances as a part of our unique curriculum, led by Boomtown Accelerators’ CFO, Jason Searfoss.
See the full WSJ article here.
Financial Mentors are Key
Kimberly S. Johnson, editor of the CFO Journal at the WSJ, became interested in Boomtown because we’re one of the only — if not the only — accelerator program with a full-time CFO on staff. While many programs offer financial advice to their teams, that guidance often comes from volunteer mentors. While mentors are a critical part of any accelerator — including Boomtown — we consider the financial element to be critical and worthy of a full-time CFO. If you rely on volunteer mentors in this area, you run the risk of availability issues which hampers the teams’ ability to fully develop their financial prowess. As a result, it could leave major gaps in the curriculum.
In the WSJ article, Johnson had this to say about Boomtown’s approach:
“Now, a new generation of programs is placing more emphasis on the financial aspects of launching a successful business… In addition to technical resources, the [Boomtown] curriculum provides legal and financial training.”
Searfoss notes in the article that,
“By the third week, companies are developing their business models, estimating granular-level expenses and figuring out ‘the
underlying assumptions that drive those expenses.’”
Strong finances are the foundation on which every business must build.
We made the decision early on to add Jason to our staff — a true CFO with strong, varied experience. This ensures that he can be there for all our teams on a full-time basis.
When we considered candidates, Jason stood out not only for his work in the venture and investment community, but for his leadership positions with some of the leading international financial institutions. He served as the CFO for both Longford Capital Management as well as the CFO and COO of Infrastructure Services for the Americas for the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. In addition, Jason is an active advisor and angel investor to startups throughout the country.
Startups are more likely to find success with financial know-how
At Boomtown, we believe a strong financial element is critical to our curriculum. Not only do investors want to work with companies to understand exactly what their capital needs are — and to take on only what they need — we also know that the best potential investors look forward to working with entrepreneurs who understand the financial side of the business. The Wall Street Journal article reinforced this belief.
“Most entrepreneurs don’t see finances and a core function.”
Robert Okabe, who leads commercialization efforts for Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago went on to note,
“…It’s good for me as an investor to have a reasonably informed entrepreneur on the other end of the table.”