This week, we sat down with Bill Price, CFO of MineralTree, a leading AP software provider. Bill is a versatile, sales-centric operating executive with extensive experience in finance, HR, sales ops, legal, M&A, and IT. He also has industry experience in software, healthcare, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, distribution, and services with companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500.
Bill describes himself as a roll-up-your-sleeves operational leader, who achieves big results with small teams by simplifying, standardizing, automating and integrating when practical. We asked him a few questions about his current role at MineralTree, his thoughts on IPO and blockchain, and advice for new CFO’s.
Q: You started out your career on the accounting firm side of things and then moved to the company side. Why did you make that move?
A: While I loved being a CPA and servicing my clients, I felt a growing desire to jump the fence and be on the operating side helping to drive growth and success for a technology company.
Q: What interested you about MineralTree? Why did you join the team?
A: 3 things: 1. We are solving a real problem for our customers with measurable results; 2. We have the right business model (SAAS) and strategy (multi-channel) and 3. Since we sell to CFOs, I can not only be the CFO, I can help sales, marketing, and product development, since I use the product internally and know what customers might like to see in our products and services.
Q: Why isn’t adoption of AP/AR automation software higher? In your experience, are there significant hurdles that companies have to overcome in order to modernize their invoice processing?
A: Change is always hard especially if you’ve been doing something for a while and it’s not broken. But the market is maturing and young entrepreneurial CFOs are taking over who are willing to make changes in the interest of increased productivity and scale.
Q: You say that IPO is one of your specialties. What are three things that novice CFOs miss when entering the IPO game?
A: 1. Many companies try to go IPO too early. They see a hot market and don’t want to miss the window, so they go IPO even if they’re not ready and their results are not as predictable. 2. They underestimate the preparation required to go public; and 3. They don’t realize the distraction that going public and being public can have on the business and its employees. Instead of building, marketing, and selling, you get people watching the stock price.
Q: In a recent interview, you said that you liked “deal making.” What do you like about it?
A: I like the strategic impact that the right deal can provide for the company. I like working through the aspects of the deal and negotiating a win-win kind of deal with the other party so that you’re both excited and incentivized to make it a success.
Q: Blockchain technology is a hot topic recently. Is it something you think about? Why or why not?
A: Blockchain is indeed a hot topic these days! It has drawn lots of attractors [sic.] and detractors. Some see it as a disruptive new method to “settle” transactions of various types — financial transactions, stock transactions, real-estate transactions, cross-border transactions — through the use of an open, ubiquitous infrastructure. Others see it as the latest fad — like the month of March — in like a lion, and out like a lamb. We at MineralTree do think about blockchain, simply because of its awesome, disruptive potential. However, we’re watching from the sidelines at this point.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone stepping into the CFO role today?
A: Several things: 1. Be a master of your domain but understand that that is just table stakes. 2. Get out of your office and get involved in all aspects of the business to understand what’s happening beyond the numbers. Analyzing financial results and trends will only give you part of the story. Understand what’s happening at the customer and product level.
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