CFO qualifications for hardware as a service startup

Afi Aflatooni UWaterloo grad with 20 yrs of technical experience

March 26th, 2019

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.

Jens Straten Entrepreneur with German Ingenuity

March 26th, 2019

In general, a CFO should have the following qualifications:

  • 5+ years of experience in a senior role (if possible, the experience should be in the same field you are doing business in)
  • CPA designation
  • A degree in Accounting, Finance or Business or equivalent business experience
  • Great verbal, analytical, organizational and written skills

That said, a hardware as a service startup (or any startup for that matter) will have additional (or different) needs:

  • Startup experience
  • Strong focus on business administration (contracts, hiring, filing, etc.)
  • Good understanding of legal requirements (e.g. proof reading of contracts)
  • Some experience with HR (recruitment, on-boarding, payroll, etc.)
  • Strong ability to create reports and forecasts
  • Some funding experience (if you plan on getting funded)
  • Ability to design a working accounting process for your business
  • Hands-on bookkeeping experience

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.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

March 27th, 2019

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.

Curt Sahakian Attorney

Last updated on April 17th, 2019

"hardware as a service"

Definitely want someone with equipment leasing experience. More than you might think.

Anas Mousa Cofounder, Research Wiz, Futurist

April 9th, 2019

How far into your startup are you? Needs more information before giving a good answer.

Martin Thöle Expierenced Part-time CFO / Controller for Germany especially Rhine-Main Area, Frankfurt, Darmstadt

June 30th, 2019

Dear Afi, I would look for hands-on industrial expierence ideally the CFO should have founded and managed a subsidiary, Startup or business (abroad). Regards Martin from AAAgiler