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I recently spoke with finance leaders from a couple dozen startups. Their expertise ranged from seed stage start-ups, where the CEO also served as the in-house finance leader, to growth stage companies where an in-house CFO monitored the entity’s current and future financial health. In these conversations, I observed that each finance leader had a different perspective and approach when engaging with their financial accounting partner.

I caught up with Ryan Keating, Managing Director of Keating Consulting Group, to get his perspective after 20 years of accelerating growth in venture-backed startups. …


In the current economic crisis, business leaders from early-stage startups to large multinational corporations have had to make difficult decisions. The financial implication of these decision is critical and the CFO is the executive helping the CEO navigate these decisions. Historically, the CFO role was focused on backward looking information: ensuring on-time and accurate financial reporting. The CFO role has evolved into a highly strategic role but needs a robust system to handle the day-to-day reporting tasks and generate accurate financial information.

My motivation was to understand the responsibility of the CFO suite, the process of billing to accounting…


I recently spoke with finance leaders from a couple dozen startups. These businesses ranged from seed stage companies where the CEO was the finance leader to growth stage companies with an in-house CFO. In these conversations, I observed each finance leader had a different perspective and approach with their financial accounting partner.

I caught up with Sandeep Shroff, Co-Founder and CEO of myStartUpCFO, an accounting firm that provides on-demand full-stack CFO services for startups. Over the course of 7 years, myStartUpCFO has helped thousands of entrepreneurs realize their dreams. …


In the last article we wrote about structuring investor updates and how important these are in an unprecedented situation like COVID-19. Some startups are thriving in this situation and some startups are fighting for survival. Either way, the business environment is changing rapidly and this typically means startup founders and their boards are communicating much more frequently than in a “business as usual” situation. In times of crisis, it’s clear which boards are designed to help the company thrive and which aren’t.

In this article, we share our thoughts on board of directors at venture-backed companies in a FAQ format…


Last month, I wrote an article about the FP&A function of the CFO suite (link). For this piece, I’ll dive into a tactical analysis that is important to every CEO and CFO, the budget vs actual variance analysis.

Source: Vena Solutions

What is the Budget vs Actual Variance Analysis

It is a comparison of your company’s planned financial performance (budget) compared against the final financial results (actual) for a given time period. The variance is the difference between the budget and actual, typically expressed as a percentage difference or total cash difference. The purpose of variance analysis is to segment the business into…


By Christian Noske & Alex Lee

This piece is a team effort between Christian Noske and myself. Christian is the Head of Alliance Ventures. We started talking about how important it is to have transparency between an investor and its portfolio companies. The outcome was this piece on Investor Updates.

We’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of investor updates. Some companies do it well, some not so well, and surprisingly, some not at all…


Traditionally, the chief financial officer (CFO) is responsible for tracking the company’s past and present financial situation and ensuring on-time and accurate financial reporting. Today, the CFO is expected to inform strategic decisions that drive the success of the company. This function is called financial planning and analysis (FP&A). Depending on the size of the company, the FP&A function can look very different.

  • Large corporation: CFO has a Director of FP&A and a Controller as direct reports, each with a team of analysts. The CFO is focused on company-level strategic planning and building a relationship with investors.
  • Medium size company…


Yesterday, millions of Americans found government stimulus money deposited into their checking accounts. This is part of the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus package to provide economic relief. Interestingly, many unexpecting Americans also received money.

To cover the basics: for a single filer, you qualify for a stimulus check of $1,200 if your adjusted gross income is less than $75,000. For every $100 above the income level, the stimulus check amount reduces by $5.

Misplaced Stimulus Money

So, if your annual salary is $120,000, you’d think you wouldn’t receive a stimulus check. Yet millions of Americans above the income…


I read a great article by The Information last Thursday on the topic of startups applying for PPP. Here are the highlights:

  • SVB processed close to 5,000 applications for PPP by Tuesday evening but 30% of those ran into issues requiring applicants to restart the process.
  • Compared to JPM Chase & Bank of America who processed 625,000 PPP applications worth $80 billion as of Tuesday.
  • Senator Marco Rubio tweeted that as of Wednesday, 400,000 businesses were approved…


In an era of information overload, it’s easy to feel that yesterday’s news is like yesteryears news.

I’m looking at my schedule this morning — meeting a couple investors, followed by a few founders. I’m thinking about what we’ll talk about — sharing deal flow, learning about the product they’re building. But I can’t help but feel like I’m betraying myself. This morning, I want to remember Kobe Bryant.

We all know about his greatness as a basketball player. Those who follow him from afar may also know he was just beginning his second act: winning an Academy Award for…

Alex Lee

Co-founder, CEO at Bluelight (YC W21). Angel Investor. Writing about the intersection of finance and startups.

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