When Robert Alvarez first joined the finance team of a venture-backed start-up, he was thinking that one day he might like to be a CFO. However, upon further reflection, the young finance analyst realized that he had little idea of what a CFO did.
Being part of a start-up team afforded him the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with different senior leaders, including the company’s CFO, Alvarez recalls. Of course, access to leadership has little value unless you are willing and able to undertake the responsibility of shepherding a future deliverable.Read More
For Alvarez, the task of identifying such a deliverable was best left to its intended recipient.
“We were together going down the list of items that I was working on, and I stopped and asked the CFO, ‘So, what’s on your list?’” remembers Alvarez, who says that the CFO subsequently began listing one item after another.
Alvarez says that he asked if he could “take a stab” at tackling one of the items and told the CFO that he would have it for him by the next day.
Having identified a valuable action item and promised to deliver it promptly, Alvarez asked the CFO not to fix the item if it ultimately fell short. Instead, Alvarez says, he was eager to discover what mistakes may have been made in order to learn from them.
“We began with that one item, which quickly became two—and soon I was working on parts of board presentations and different materials for investor relations,” comments Alvarez, who notes that the experience was contingent on a finance leader willing to give up something.
Says Alvarez: “He gave me the gift of letting me do his job, which was critical because I’m not smart enough to just read how to do things—I’ve always had to do the work.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about BigCommerce … what does it do and what are its offerings?
Alvarez: BigCommerce is an e-commerce platform that helps merchants of all sizes to sell their products online. We support over 60,000 customers in 150 different countries. Our whole vision is that we want to be the world’s best and most successful e-commerce platform for growing businesses.
Our mission really hasn’t changed since I started. It’s really to power the success of our merchants at every stage of their growth. What we’ve really tried to do is to have a differentiated approach in how this happens. If you’re a merchant today, probably in the past you have been limited in terms of how you sold products online, based on the platform that you chose. We’ve opened up our platform to where our merchants get a lot of freedom of choice, and they get to leverage a lot of best-of-breed technologies to power e-commerce.Read More
You can imagine how much e-commerce has changed over the past 10 years. E-commerce is going to change even more and faster over the next 10 years. We feel that regardless of whether you’re a small or large enterprise business, we’ve built our platform and product and services in ways that we feel can help to support you through all of these phases. We’ve got SMB merchants that are just starting, but we also have very large merchants like Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, Skullcandy, and big box retailers that are now selling their products online through BigCommerce.
After you go public, they say, it takes 12 quarters to build a track record. We’re four quarters in. We’re not quite there yet. We’ve got to continue to build upon our track record. Now it’s a matter of not just managing the business and the internal pieces, but managing the external pieces as well.
For all of us, the IPO was a branding event. It was an awareness event to get our story out there. I don’t think that this changes. We feel great about our strategy for the next 12 months. We feel great about the things that we’re very focused on and talk a lot about. We’re executing on them and then hopefully continuing the “beat and raise” cadence that we’re trying to establish as a public company. It’s a big focus.
BigCommerce | www.bigcommerce.com | Austin, TX