The Backbone — Episode 52: Why the tradeoff of balancing profitability and sustainability is a false dichotomy

David Reid, CFO & COO at Boll and Branch

Shubham Datta
Apr 1 · 7 min read
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Joining me on this episode of the Backbone is David Reid, Chief Operating and Financial Officer at Boll & Branch, a direct-to-consumer brand that offers industry-leading luxury bedding and goods.

As for David himself, he oversees Boll & Branch’s Finance, Operations, Technology, Customer Experience, and Business Intelligence functions. David started his career with Deutsche Bank working in both London and New York City. He subsequently moved to the corporate world taking leadership roles as CFO at Dylan’s Candy Bar and VP Business Development at Suite Retail.

David is a Chartered Accountant (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland) and holds Bachelor’s and Masters degrees from the University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh respectively.

I chat with David about:

  1. His career journey starting as a CPA with Deutsche Bank where he spent over 10 years as an investment banker before joining Dylan’s Candy Bar as the CFO in his first operating gig to his current role as the COO and CFO of Boll And Branch.
  2. Boll & Branch — what the company does and what its all about.
  3. How he balances the tradeoff between profitability and sustainability (especially as a business with private equity backers). Part of Boll & Branch’s brand promise is the company’s deep commitment to using sustainable raw materials throughout the business and sweatshop-free labour. The company has a saying that it all boils down to one choice: “to do what’s right”. For example in 2018, Boll & Branch’s organic cotton saved over 592 million gallons of water.
  4. His biggest learnings from the $100M raise led by L Catterton’s flagship fund — the world’s leading consumer investor and private equity firm of LVMH.
  5. As the CFO of an emerging DTC brand, how he ensure the right tools and systems are in place to scale and grow the finance org.

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 advice you’ve received
  • One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing

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Check out previous episodes of The Backbone

Episode 51: The art of value-based pricing models w/ Karthik Srinivasan, Director of Finance at Chargebee

Episode 50: Behind the 7-year journey of scaling WIND Mobile to $500M in revenue and $1.6B sale w/ Brice Scheschuk, Managing Partner at Globalive Capital

Episode 49: Fiscally responsible growth vs growth at all costs w/ Johnathan Mirian, VP Finance at Justworks

Episode 48: Setting the right foundation in the first 100 days to scale the finance function for hyper growth w/ Khoi Le, VP Finance at Hopper

Episode 47: A framework for managing M&A as a CFO w/ Saeideh Fard, Chief Financial Officer at Tulip

Episode 46: Pushing company-wide transformation of a craft brewer through technology w/ Trevor Young, Chief Financial Officer at Steam Whistle Brewing

Episode 45: Driving growth through an omnichannel approach at an established wellness brand w/ Michelle Armstrong, Chief Operating Officer at Saje Natural Wellness

Episode 44: Striking the balance of growth and profitability as a bootstrapped company w/ Jessica Katz, Director of Finance at Format

Episode 43: A framework for growing and scaling finance functions w/ Mustafa Nafar, VP Finance at Modsy

Episode 42: What investors really care about from a CFO turned VC & the top metrics for direct-to-consumer businesses w/ Amy Wu, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners

Episode 41: The key differences between marketing-driven SaaS companies to sales-driven ones w/ Amar Shrivastava, VP Finance at Clubhouse

Episode 40: Mejuri’s data-driven approach to managing inventory as an omnichannel, emerging direct-to-consumer brand w/ Katie Sellers, Director of Finance at Mejuri

Episode 39: Balancing short term expectations of investors with longer term strategic roadmap decisions as a public company tech CFO w/ Shouvik Roy, Chief Financial Officer at Versapay (TSXV: VPY)

Episode 38: The Consumerization of the Enterprise & Key Differences Between a Strategic and Financial Acquirer w/ Alok Pandey, VP Finance & Corporate Development at AnchorFree

Episode 37: An Inside Look at Salesforce’s $689M Acquisition of Buddy Media & Lessons Learned from Raising $150M+ w/ Oliver Bell, CFO at Springbot

Episode 36: Key Considerations + Metrics for Expanding a Localized Marketplace w/ Corey Noyek, Finance Manager at Platterz

Episode 35: Getting Dirt Underneath Your Fingers as an Operator w/ Tom Finn, VP Finance at Solstice

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 Contentw/ 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

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Shubham Datta

Written by

Coprorate Develpment @goClio (ex-@Shopify) + Host @BackbonePodcast | write about #tech, #investing, #finance, #SaaS | more: www.shubhamdatta.com

The Backbone

A journey inside finance at a startup

Shubham Datta

Written by

Coprorate Develpment @goClio (ex-@Shopify) + Host @BackbonePodcast | write about #tech, #investing, #finance, #SaaS | more: www.shubhamdatta.com

The Backbone

A journey inside finance at a startup

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