Billtrust CFO Mark Shifke likes to label himself an “accidental CFO”—a tag that a number of our guests have appropriated from time to time when faced with explaining a past filled with less-than-traditional career experience.
However, in the case of Shifke, the term arguably has little to do with career experience, for Billtrust’s CFO spent nearly a decade on Wall Street before entering the C-suite. Instead, Shifke uses the appellation to help to reveal the pivotal role that a single phone call came to play in his finance career.Read More
Back in 2000—near the beginning of Shifke’s Wall Street career and the end of the market frenzy known as the dotcom bubble—Shifke took a phone call from a CEO founder whom he had met through a personal acquaintance. Just as the CEO didn’t hesitate to ask Shifke to invest in his struggling company, Shifke didn’t dither when it came to coming up with some figurative cash.
“I made a handshake agreement with him over the phone,” explains Shifke, who notes that the investment did require some visibility into the company’s sales pipeline.
“I told him, ‘If you are successful at selling into this environment and you are able to generate revenue, then on the back of that, I will raise capital’—and I did so,” recalls Shifke, who raised a “family and friends” round of funds that allowed him to become a central angel investor in the company Green Dot Corp., a fintech start-up and pioneer of prepaid debit cards.
Fast-forward 11 years, and Shifke is no longer just a Green Dot investor but a board member when he opts out of a managing director role at JPMorgan Chase to join Green Dot in a senior corporate development role.
“It’s one thing to invest in a business and it’s another to advise a business, but it’s quite another thing to go operate it—and I had never operated one,” comments Shifke, who would enter the CFO office at Green Dot a few years later in 2015.
In the end, Shifke says, the “accidental CFO” label still fits because he originally had zero aspirations to be a CFO and now-midsize fintech firm Green Dot simply became the means to scratch his operations itch.
Says Shifke: “There was an opportunity to either enhance my position as a shareholder or materially harm it—but this tended to play out to the positive.” –Jack Sweeney
CFOTL: Tell us about Billtrust. What does this company do?
Shifke: Well, we do everything end-to-end from order to cash. If you’re a company and you’re looking to sell to another company, the first thing you have to do is determine whether you’re willing to give them any credit. And so we help right from the start. Eventually you sell something, you need to invoice them. You’re then going to look for a payment. You need to have a reconciliation of that payment to the invoice that was sent. So, we do all of that. We digitize the data that sends out the invoice. Many of our customers start where they’re printing invoices and mailing them.
We get rid of this and help companies to move on from it. We help them to move to a digital process whereby they can send out invoices electronically. They can receive payments electronically. We can take the instructions on how to match the payment to the invoice electronically, for faster reconciliation. We can process the payment, and we can apply the cash so that it’s in the bank account. It’s really an end-to-end digitization and automation of the accounts receivable process.Read More
My priorities always go beyond the next 12 months. But we’re now a public company, so over the next 12 months it’s imperative that we be SOX-compliant and that we also remain in good stead, as we have been, in being SOC-compliant, as distinct from SOX compliance.
Beyond these, we’re already looking at strategies that will potentially have an impact on next year’s financial performance. We’re beginning inquiries around the activities that we can undertake to develop strategies with a 2- to 4-year outlook. All of these activities require the coordination of finance with our partners in product, IT, sales, talent, and business intelligence, so these will be the main priorities that I have over the longer term.
Billtrust | www.billtrust.com | Lawrenceville, NJ