The Backbone — Episode 35: Getting Dirt Underneath Your Fingers as an Operator

Tom Finn, VP Finance at Solstice

Shubham Datta
May 1 · 6 min read

On this episode of The Backbone I chat with Tom Finn, VP Finance at Solstice.

On the show today, I’m excited to welcome Tom Finn. Tom is currently the VP of Finance at Solstice, a Chicago based digital innovation company that helps large Fortune 500 clients such as Discover, Healthfirst, Blue Cross Blue Shield and John Deere with their digital journey.

Tom has over 20 years’ experience in the high tech sector with pioneering companies such as Peapod — the largest US online grocery delivery platform — where he spend 6 years and as CFO was responsible for the financial and accounting operations of the company, as well as representing these functions on the executive management team. Tom’s area of expertise, is helping organizations scale to that next level — something he has helped do at Peapod and at AIM Specialty Health, and now at Solstice. His experience has given him good insight into the do’s and don’ts of the role of finance in rapidly growing tech focused companies wanting to shake up the status quo.

On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Tom about:

  1. His 20+ year journey within tech and finance from Ireland.
  2. Solstice — what the company does and what is it all about.
  3. What it means for an operator to get dirt underneath their fingers.
  4. The contrasting priorities of your first 100 days as a finance leader varies from an early stage company, where you are setting up the finance function for the first time to a growth stage company, where you are inheriting a finance function.
  5. The importance of the finance function within a high growth technology company.

We close things off with a quickfire round:

  • Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related
  • Your favourite productivity hack
  • Tech jargon that makes you cringe
  • The best advise you’ve received
  • One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing

Take a listen:

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Check out previous episodes of The Backbone

Episode 34: An Inside Look into Lightspeed’s $275M+ IPO & Scaling a Global Organization w/ Brandon Nussey, CFO at Lightspeed POS

Episode 33: Behind the Scenes of SnapTravel’s $21m Slam Dunk Series A from Steph Curry w/ Ankur Bansal, Head of Finance and Business Development at SnapTravel

Episode 32: A CFO Must Master Being a Capital Allocator w/ Sujeet Kini, CFO at Solium Capital

Episode 31: A Former Banker + Growth Investor Turned Operator on the Consequences of Raising Too Much Capital w/ Steve Isom, VP Finance at Flywheel

Episode 30: Customer + Revenue Churn at a SaaS Company with Recurring + Services Revenue w/ Cory Michalyshyn, CFO / COO at Solink

Episode 29: The First 100 Days as a Finance Leader of a Venture-Backed Startup w/ Bryn Knox, Head of Finance at BenchSci

Episode 28: Scaling a Finance Function of a High Growth Company with Strategic & Institutional Investors w/ Tiffany Hsiao, VP Finance at Rubikloud

Episode 27: Raising a $27M Financing Round & Managing the Ever-Changing Priorities as CFO w/ Dave Pooley, Chief Financial Officer at Axonify

Special Feature: Exploring a New & Revolutionary Revenue Model for Education w/ Austen Allred, Co-Founder and CEO of Lambda School

Episode 26: Lessons Learned from Raising $32M Growth Round + the Symbiotic Relationship Between Finance & Operations w/ Samiksha Khanna, VP Finance and Operations at Uberflip

Episode 25: Correlating Non-Financial Metrics into Financial Outcomes + Balancing Ad-load & Revenue Generated Through Sponsored Content w/ Trisha Egberts, Finance Manager at Figure1

Episode 24: Learnings from Starting and Shutting Down a Startup + Balancing Multiple Product Stakeholders w/ Mark Jarvie, VP Finance at Drop

Episode 23: Learnings from Raising/Exiting $700M+ in Deal Value for Software + Hardware and the Importance of a People-First Approach in Finance w/ David Brennan, Chief Financial Officer at Ecobee

Episode 22: Raising $47M from Strategic vs Traditional VC & the Level of Finance Leader to Hire at Each Stage of a Company’s Evolution w/ Danielle Cerisano, VP Finance at League

Episode 21: Using Analytics and Predictive Models to Improve Budgeting + the Role of Attribution in Assessing Digital Marketing ROI w/ Emma Lyndon, CFO at Canopy Labs

Episode 20: Considerations for CAC and Churn in a Self-Serve Pricing Model w/ Matt Dove, VP Finance at Celtx

Episode 19: The Journey of Raising $100M ICO (Initial Coin Offering) as a Venture-Backed Unicorn w/ Brandon Brunet, Controller at Kik

Episode 18: Bootstrapped to $12M Series A & What it Means for the Finance Function w/ Jennifer Pollock, Director of Finance & Operations at RateHub

Episode 17: The Added Complexities of Hardware Tech Companies & How to Price a New Medical Device w/ Travis Phung, Director of Finance & Administration at Exact Imaging

Episode 16: Monetizing a Free Product & Navigating Complexities of the Financial Services Space w/ Brian Wu, Finance Lead at Borrowell

Episode 15: Serving the Restaurant Industry & Breaking Into Tech in a Finance Capacity w/ Rob Curcio, Director of Finance at TouchBistro

Episode 14: Scaling the Finance Function, Fundraising, Making Acquisitions & Operationalizing Metrics w/ Ryan Magee, Chief Financial Officer at Cority

Episode 13: Serving the SMB Market at a Publicly Traded Software Company vs a High-Growth Startup w/ Darren Wood, Director of Finance & Operations at Jobber

Episode 12: Leading Finance at NPOs to High Growth Tech & Bootstrapping vs Raising Venture Capital w/ Anthony Scolaro, VP Finance & Operations at Lucova

Episode 11: Raising $17M Series A Round & What it Means to be ‘Venture-Backed w/ Frank Jessop, Director of Finance, Sensibill

Episode 10: Vendor Selection Considerations & Viewing the Finance Function from an Engineering Perspective w/ Gerti Dervishi, VP Finance at Flybits

Episode 9: The Process of Acquiring Companies as a Startup & Best Practices for Investor Relations w/ Ryan Levenberg, VP Finance at Q4 Systems Inc.

Episode 8: Raising VC Funding to Executing an $110M Acquisition + Demystifying the Progressive Roles of the Finance Leader within a Startupw/ Dwayne Walker, CFO at LookbookHQ

Episode 7: Going Through an Acquisition of an eCommerce Company & Keeping Both Sides of a Marketplace Happy w/ Elena Armstrong, Co-Founder & VP Finance at Exact Media

Episode 6: From Finance to Founding an IoT Startup & Bootstrapping vs. Raising Venture Capital w/ Sacha Sawaya, Co-Founder and CFO at Litmus Automation

Episode 5: Difference Between Being an Advisor vs Finance Leader for Tech Startups & When to Raise Capital w/ Eugene Bomba, CFO & VP Operations at ThoughtWire

Episode 4: Transitioning from Professional Services to Finance Leader of Pre-Revenue Tech Startup w/ Chris Parkes, CFO at NuraLogix

Episode 3: Why Finance & Operations go Together & Dealing with the Highly Regulated Financial Services Industry w/ Leen Li, Head of Finance at Wealthsimple

Episode 2: How Finance Scales Growing from 25 to 200+ Employees & Transfer Pricing w/ Les Cullen, Director Finance & Operations at TopHat

Episode 1: Managing Churn & Being Private Equity Backed w/ Daniel Israelsohn, VP Finance & Operations at Firmex


The Backbone is a podcast hosted by Shubham Datta, that explores the journey inside finance at a startup. Each episode features a finance leader (Director/VP, Finance or CFO) that:

  • shares their story of how they entered the world of startups,
  • explains what their company does
  • describes unique challenges he/she faces in their role

The Backbone

A journey inside finance at a startup

Shubham Datta

Written by

Coprorate Develpment @shopify + Host @BackbonePodcast | write about #tech, #investing, #finance, #SaaS | opinions are my own | more: www.shubhamdatta.com

The Backbone

A journey inside finance at a startup