Looking back at the early years of his finance career, David Bedell recalls being frustrated when a business unit leader remained leery about the merits of a potential deal.
“I had done all of the analysis and was convinced that it would make a lot of money for the company, but I just couldn’t figure out how to convince him,” explains Bedell, who spent the balance of his early career years at software developer Intuit, where he advanced from running the gauntlet of FP&A projects to serving in multiple CFO business unit roles.Read More
“Finally, I bet my entire bonus for the year on it—I told the leader that if the deal failed, he could keep it, but if it was a win, I would appreciate my bonus being doubled,” explains Bedell, who notes that his confidence in his own analysis of the deal compelled him to break what he refers to as the “glass wall.”
Says Bedell: “If we in finance limit ourselves to only making recommendations and choose to keep that wall between us, it’s just not personal enough.”
For Bedell, his hefty investment in 13 Intuit career years appears to have been well spent, as the company achieved a number of strategic milestones, including the acquisition of Mint.com and the sale of Quicken.
“I was just there at the right time with my hand raised, always being eager—and for people early in their career, it’s about being there at the right time,” comments Bedell.
As for the business leader whom Bedell once risked his bonus to win over, the end appears to have justified the means.
“He just laughed at me and said, ’If you’re that confident, we’re going to do it,’” remarks Bedell, who adds that while his bonus bet may have been a bit “childish,” it got the job done.
“Sometimes it’s not personal enough for finance,” he observes. “You have to push that emotion or excitement forward to the point where you’re part of the business and your soul is on the line—that’s what makes a great finance person.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Lendio … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Bedell: Lendio facilitates loans to small businesses. The easiest way to think about it is like this: We all know that there’s a ton of small business lending going on in the world, but there are spaces within that market that are very underserved. The biggest underserved market is smaller loans. What I call “smaller loans” may seem big to some people, but we’re talking basically $500,000 and below, that range. The reason that this is underserved is that if you walk into a bank and say, “Hey, I want this money,” it takes a lot of effort for them to screen your credit, pull all the files, and so forth. If the loan is not that big, it’s not worth their time to go through all of the documentation, the process, the personnel costs, and the overhead to write it.Read More
What we’ve found is that by using technology, we can marry up lenders who want to have a certain credit box or credit profile with borrowers who are a match but want smaller loan sizes. For example, people might finance new equipment all the time, but used equipment is a little bit riskier because it’s hard to value. We can marry up the specialty use equipment people with the people who need them. We have found these little spaces in the market where there was enormous pent-up demand. By implementing technology, we can solve the challenge with enough efficiency that it’s profitable for everybody. The space that we’re in right now is to help these small businesses marry up with their lenders and find the financing that they need.
When you’re at our stage—when you’re growing in that 50%-plus range—so much of your valuation is dependent on your growth rate. You cannot take your foot off the gas. It has to be grow, grow, grow. It’s not, as some people say, “growth at all costs,” which I think can be interpreted as “spend everything.” No. It’s more like, “Grow with a sustainably efficient model such that at the end of the day, when you get there, you look like a company should look when they’re at $200 million or $300 million and profitable. They have a business model that you can see is kicking off cash.”
I just spent the past 6 weeks going through a checklist with our entire organization: “Okay, Jane, you’re signed up for this much. Okay, John, you’re signed up for this much. Here’s how it’s going to happen.” This is how we can ensure that our growth is going to occur. This is kind of CFO 101, but it’s all about getting down to those basics. It’s not just setting a goal on a spreadsheet. It’s getting down to how that goal going to be achieved—to who is assigned to it so that I know that there’s a name there, that there’s a project there, so that I can have some confidence that it’s real and not just something on a spreadsheet. jb
“Chase skills, not title or money. Get the skills, and the title and the money will follow—and you will be ready for them.” –David Bedell, CFO, Lendio
Lendio | www.lendio.com | Lehi, Utah