Last February, following his arrival on a flight to Israel, Tomer Pinchas recalls receiving a startling text from the Israeli government. Having recently visited Italy, the text explained, passenger Pinchas must now agree to enter self-quarantine for a period two weeks. As CFO of Kryon—a Tel Aviv start-up specializing in Robotic Process Automation (RPA)—Pinchas, like most business travelers, was well aware of the recent spread of COVID-19. Still, the order to self-quarantine seemed aggressive to Pinchas, who at the time could not have imagined that in a few short weeks he would be sheltering in place with the rest of Israel.
“The actions taken by Israel were quite drastic and came pretty much a few weeks before the rest of the world, but what we learned during the process was that we can work anyplace—and sometimes we can be even more organized,” says Pinchas, who believes that a new business environment is beginning to come into view.
So far, the remote workforce is perhaps the new environment’s most pronounced characteristic. However, some of the more interpersonal attributes of doing business may be compromised.
“Due to the fact that we work with enterprise customers and many things that we use to install are on-premise, we would often meet the customer face-to-face, so this will be kind of challenging in the new (environment)” explains Pinchas, who says that while face-to-face selling will likely be curtailed, Kryon’s RPA offerings will find new traction among companies seeking new tools to help automate repetitive tasks and help them to better engage and respond to customer demands.
Fortunately, the RPA start-up closed on its latest round of financing within weeks of Israel sheltering in place.
“I really believe that you need to raise money when you can and not necessarily when you need it,” remarks Pinchas, who believes that as long as a company has a strategy that it’s prepared to execute—and not just an appetite for cash—the timing of a capital raise should not matter.
Says Pinchas: “Don’t wait for the right time, because the majority of the time, there’s no such thing.” –Jack Sweeney
Guest: Tomer Pinchas
Headquarters: Tel Aviv, Israel
CFOTL: What are your priorities as a finance leader over the next 12 months?
Pinchas: From my perspective, the question is not whether the pandemic is going to be over in three, six, or nine months. What we’re trying to understand and predict, right now, is what this new world is going look like and what our opportunity is going to be in this new environment.
We are watching and forecasting. We started with one budget and adjusted accordingly to make sure that we manage our cash properly. I do believe that what is super-important under these circumstances is that you make the necessary adjustment so that you have sufficient cash—not for the next three, six, nine months, but more than that—while taking into consideration that there is going to be a slowdown, not necessarily because of your product but because the other side of the world may hesitate to make decisions.
I do believe that the company that survives this and gets beyond it within 12 months—and invests in R&D and stands behind its vision when it comes to creating new products—will be super-successful. So I would say that my main priority is first to make sure that I have sufficient cash for the next 24 months. Second would be to make certain to analyze the situation by trying to determine and understand not when COVID-19 will end, but how the future will look and how industry will be operating in six to nine to 12 months. jb