Developing, building, and scaling a startup is one of the most unique and challenging things anyone can take on.
You are constantly facing the unknown and a series of ups and downs at every step along the way.
Out of all the various systems and processes required to grow a startup, none are more crucial than the financial system.
Adam Greenberg, CEO of MakeShift, has seen all of the above. However, in the financial side of things, he has full confidence and belief while working with NOVAA – a tech-forward CPA firm specializing in accounting and fractional services for growing startups.
In this Case Study, you’ll see a breakdown of how NOVAA works with MakeShift and the difference it has made for Adam as a CEO and the company’s growth as a whole.
Here is what will be covered:
- About Makeshift
- Unique business needs
- A strategic partner
- Tactical day to day guidance
- Experience in Saas + tech
- Growing Together
MakeShift is a scheduling and communication app built specifically for the hospitality, recreation, and restaurant industries.
Despite their top industries being hit the hardest by COVID (more on that later), MakeShift has continued to thrive and grow in recent years. As stated in an April press release:
“MakeShift announced record company growth with revenues increasing by double digits in 2021, as the healthcare, retail, and hospitality industries look to offer flexible scheduling and a better employee experience to their staff.
“In 2021, MakeShift doubled its employee count, expanded new user bookings by almost 40%, and increased its partner community by 100%. Additionally, the company was awarded ADP® Marketplace Platinum Partner rank and currently sits as a best-seller app for employee scheduling on the ADP Marketplace. MakeShift was also highlighted by Calgary Economic Development as a company that grew despite the pandemic, and more recently was named among the 30 Most Innovative Brands for 2022 by The Silicon Review.”
Unique Business Needs
Every startup is unique, and for a financial services business like NOVAA, the key to providing value is helping with these unique complexities.
At MakeShift, the financial system came into sharp focus when COVID-19 hit.
Adam the CEO described it this way: “You know, COVID really opened our eyes to a number of things that we had to make some significant changes in the way we operate — The type of employees that we attract, the type of customers that we want to deliver, deliver outcomes for, and having to manage our spend very, very carefully. You know, given that many of our customers were at this time anyways, retail, hospitality, airlines, they’re all shut down.”
In the midst of those challenges, the original CFO who had worked with the company retired, and Adam had to make a decision.
“And so I had to make a big, important decision,” Adam said. “Do I hire a full-time CFO and accounting team or do I look at at other options? And I did my research and I interviewed a number of a number of, fractional CFO and accounting firms and looked at what they offer.”
NOVAA – A Strategic Financial Partner
Part of what NOVAA promises to their clients is a strategic partner with a specific knowledge in fast-growth entities.
As MakeShift went through a series of changes after COVID-19, and the need for fast transparent financials came into focus, this type of partner is exactly what Adam needed.
“What I needed the most as the CEO was was a strategic partner in finance.” Adam said.
He goes on to describe what that strategic partner looks like and how it helps in building the company.
Modeling, forecasting, and the impact on EBITDA
“So I needed a CFO. But it’s not a full time job. And a lot of it is modeling. It’s looking at the forecast, looking at the budget kind of war room type of stuff where we’re looking at, you know, if we do this, you know, what’s that going to look like in six months?” Adam said. “And if we do that, what’s this going to look like in six months? How does that impact our shareholders? How does that impact positive EBITDA? You know, when we started getting into more detail, like what’s our customer acquisition cost, what are we spending on R&D and really getting into a more fine tuned operation.”
Tactical Day-to-Day Guidance
While the CFO services get most of the attention, they are irrelevant without quick access to financial data.
MakeShift needed the modeling and projections to be sure, but they also needed their financial team to have quick, accurate financial reporting.
NOVAA came in immediately to help with this. For this process to succeed, and even get into the work of financial projections, MakeShift needed three things:
One of the biggest fears when engaging in hiring someone to take over your financials, or partnering with a team, is taking the time to train them. Bringing someone into this role is not something you can rush, however, most startups don’t have time to waste. The transactions keep rolling in, and payroll runs on a strict schedule.
For MakeShift, the transition to NOVAA was smooth and efficient.
“We also needed the tactical day-to-day payroll expenses, benefits and looking at our banking, looking at our benefits packages, looking at grants, looking at everything. And that’s really what they’re what they’re doing for us. And that’s really what I needed,” Adam said.
But he knew it needed to happen quickly, and with NOVAA everything fell right into place.
“The expectation for hiring is it takes a long time to onboard them, and it would have taken a lot of my time and attention … and my hands were pretty full with a lot of other stuff,” Adam said. “But this was seamless. Once we selected NOVAA, it moved pretty quickly.”
The only way to make a smooth transition is to work with a team with experience and expertise in the tech tools the company relies on.
NOVAA works with a large suite of tech tools including Quickbooks, ADP, Jirav, Wagepoint, ReceiptBank and several others.
“It was important to have someone come in with experience working with Saas, and familiarity with Quickbooks and ADP which we rely heavily on,” Adam said.
With the right technology tools, NOVAA is able to remove the need for data entry, allowing for a smooth transition, speed in reporting, which frees up time for added communication – focusing on advisory. Tech even enables greater cashflow with tools like accounts receivable automation.
Ultimately, though, the decision to bring in a strategic partner is not only about tangible qualities. There is an intangible element where you just have to feel good about working together.
Fundamentally, Adam trusted NOVAA when he needed a partner. Adam said he felt a clear “chemistry,” which was partially due to being located in the same area and the industry experience.
“Not only did they provide what I needed, but they were easy to work with and people I enjoyed,” he said.
This chemistry played out in a variety of ways and especially comes through with regular communication.
At the beginning of the relationship, NOVAA met with MakeShift weekly to ensure the transition was on track. Now, the meetings are less frequent but still revolve around the monthly reporting cycle, with NOVAA taking a proactive approach to guiding the company.
After a successful transition, and now years of working together, NOVAA now is able to provide ongoing compliance, reporting, and occasional direction.
And this relationship is a wonderful thing for MakeShift because it doesn’t take up much of Adam’s time, allowing him to focus on the big picture of the company.
“What I like about them is the balance that they bring in terms of doing things the way they’re done today. And making recommendations to improve things without making any assumptions that it’s better,” Adam says of working with NOVAA.
We are able to keep working and progressing, but they are looking at everything to point out if things look off track.”
The Value in a Strategic Partner
Building a Saas startup is incredibly difficult. When you have to spin so many plates, it only gets harder.
MakeShift found a strategic partner in NOVAA to provide tactical day-to-day accounting, strategic guidance, and a partner they can grow with.
When you have this as a business, you’ll have more confidence in the business, and much less headache as you can focus on what you do best.
This is exactly what Adam and MakeShift found:
“This is not my expertise. I’m not a finance person,” Adam said. “My focus is sales and revenue growth. They’ve been great, and the strategic partner we’ve needed.”