I am looking to bring on a CFO to help with the finances for our company.
I am wondering what qualifications should I look for to ensure that the candidate really understands the financial needs of a startup.
In general, a CFO should have the following qualifications:
That said, a hardware as a service startup (or any startup for that matter) will have additional (or different) needs:
Depending on your specific business, you might need more qualifications, but this is a good list of commonly required startup CFO skills.
One last word of advise: In startups, the CFO role is usually filled around the time of the first fundraising. Before that, many of these skills can be filled by the general manager and a (part-time) accountant.
Jens highlights a lot of good things to consider. I would add that you consider one more big thing. Don't look for a CFO. Drop the title. Set forth your requirements in terms of functions or skills you need filled and stop inflating the title of the first person to do a task to the C-level.
Understanding startups doesn't require a CFO specifically, but it does require someone who is good at planning, forecasting, and questioning assumptions. Someone who will challenge you and that you can have honest conversations with, that understands finance sure, but personality is also of high importance.
"hardware as a service"
Definitely want someone with equipment leasing experience. More than you might think.