This episode of the CFO Playbook features an interview with Rebecca Kacaba, CEO and Co-Founder of Dealmaker, the leading platform for large scale equity crowdfunding.
Rebecca talks to us about equity crowdfunding as a viable funding pathway for larger and scaling companies, leading and persevering through the global pandemic. And how traditional equity and debt finance mechanisms fail business leaders who don’t fit the pre-defined mould.
To Kacaba, equity crowdfunding is not just an alternative to more traditional equity or debt finance. It’s a reconfiguration of it, too.
“Equity crowdfunding is, fundamentally, a digital message,” she explains. “If you think about that versus the traditional walking into the boardroom and shaking hands. These are heuristics based on appearance and even things like joking around.”
“That is a different process than putting your business’s value prop online and a quick video-based elevator pitch.” In equity crowdfunding, it’s the idea that resonates with potential investors.
Who the founder is (or what they look like) matters less, Kacaba says. To listen to her speak, it’s clear that Kacaba views Dealmaker as a natural haven to people alienated by the normal, perhaps slightly staid machinations of institutional finance.
The stats seem to bear out Kacaba’s point. Female-founded businesses, for instance, have flourished on the platform. Receiving over 30% of the capital raised on Dealmaker (dwarfing the sub 3% of VC capital that goes to female founders.
Company culture can make or break hiring and retention. A lot of people really crave self-learning, growth and innovation in a workplace, and it’s hard to find. Establishing company culture comes from the top, as employees will look up to executive leaders.
“We try to treat our team as well as possible, but ultimately, having a strong culture, we know what we are, we know we’re a culture of high performers. And other high performers wanna be a part of that. And that’s a very unique culture.”
In many cases, finance can allow for predicting the future in certain markets. While it’s stereotypically portrayed as just number crunching, the modernization of the finance function has aided in massively growing companies.
“I think to me, finance is such a cool function because when you have strong control over the numbers, it can play a really predictive, forward looking role in the organization. In terms of helping filter through acquisition targets and modeling future revenues as part of the capital raising process.
I think traditionally a lot of people think of finance and back-office as just back looking. And to me, the power of finance is in the forward looking aspect of the numbers and what the numbers can tell you about the future.”
What is required of a leader at any growth company is the ability to think critically. It’s important to take a step back and realize the extent to which the company’s vision aligns with its pattern of growth. Trust in the supporting team is important as it allows the leader to remain focused on vision at large.
“I had practice zooming into detail and then zooming back out as a partner from a macro perspective. I think that’s really what’s required of you as a growth company CEO. You have to know when to jump in on something and dive down into the weeds. And then you have to know when to pull back up and stay at a high level.”
You can listen to the full interview with Rebecca Kacaba here. Like what you hear? Subscribe to the podcast!