Our new unit, Unikie Finance, brings CFOs to support startup companies

4.10.2017

The new business unit, starting alongside our current operations, offers startup companies support from senior level finance professionals.  The CFOs of Unikie Finance support entrepreneurs in the most important financial operations that determine the growth opportunities of a company.

The CFOs of Unikie Finance work with an entrepreneur for a few days each month, but more closely for instance during a funding round. The advantage of the concept is getting a top professinal to support the company cost-effectively.

– Our CFOs function as the wingmen of the chief executives, whether it is about getting funding, controlling the working capital, or other financial decisions that are a precondition for a company’s growth, says Unikie Finance partner Peter Ollikainen.

– They are seniors who have shown their abilities in tough situations and can steer a company forward.  A CFO works as a clear member of a team, not in his own chamber turning over numbers.

The CFOs of Unikie Finance begin the first client operations in the Helsinki metropolitan area on the fourth quarter of this year. Next year, the operations will expand to Tampere, Turku, and Oulu.

A competent CFO makes the right decisions

Unikie’s unique partner concept brings a client company benefits in the form of cost-effectiveness. For the CFO, the concept offers a motivating revenue generation model and support services that enable full focus on supporting the client company.

The most significant difference to most current financial management services is the available competence particularly when there is a need to make important, concrete decisions to ensure the growth of the company.

– A qualified CFO can look into the future from behind the numbers and make the right decisions quickly thanks to his experience, says Unikie Ltd. board chairman, Seppo Kolari.

Unikie Finance was born out of a real need of high-growth companies.

– We have also recognized the need. There’s a wish to keep organizations trim, and you might not hire a fulltime CFO because you can handle numbers and bookkeeping yourself. At the same time, there’s an occasional need for an experienced top professional who can bring genuine additional value to the operations, says Kolari.

A startup is agile, startup financial management is not

Startups excel in agile changes of business or product idea direction, as mentioned among others by Antti Hyrkäs, master of political science, in his dissertation that he wrote for the University of Helsinki at the end of last year.

On the other hand, lack of competence particularly in financial planning, a necessity for business continuity, becomes a problem. Mauri Laukkanne, describing the growth process of startups from a financial management viewpoint, concretizes the effects of this lack in his book Kasvuyritys (”High-growth Company”, Alma Talent).

– Typical reasons for failure in the startup phase are, for example, wrong pricing, excess indebtedness, and neglecting financial planning and monitoring, all of which could easily be avoided by studying the basics of business economics, writes Laukkanen.

– Often, however, the companies consider it more important to invest in something else, something more concrete that offers a more immediate profit than financial management.

Laukkanen stresses the significance of forethought already at the beginning of corporate activity. It is important to expand budgeting from mere cash budgeting to sales anticipation, production control, invoicing, and maintaining a backlog of orders and shipments.

In addition, one must be able to read financial data. Otherwise, financial reports and additional accounting firm services are of no benefit.

Time for the chief executive for sales and product development

Unikie Finance is aware of the situation. The fundamental idea of the business includes lightening the load of the chief executive.

– Our CFO organizes the financial matters in support of the chief executive, with the aim always on progressing operative business. The chief executive can focus on sales and product envisioning, says Peter Ollikainen.

There are plenty of examples of practical needs. The cash assets of a startup are often fluctuating – sometimes there’s plenty, at other times not. A qualified CFO knows both cash budgeting and seeking funds when there is a need to find investors or public grants. It is essential that this task is given to a professional who can also produce results.

Possible methods for “filling the gaps” in the cash reserve can include invoice factoring, which is an art in its own right. If a company ends up factoring its invoices, it is important that the process stays inside the company and customer suspicions regarding business continuity are avoided.

Peter Ollikainen stresses the significance of a good cooperation between the chief executive and the CFO.

– In addition to trust, a well functioning personal chemistry is extremely important. If that is in place, significant outcomes for the company can be achieved.