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Investor talks: Dawn Capital’s top tips on tackling growth

Europe’s largest specialist B2B software investor, Dawn Capital, has shared with us nuggets of wisdom for scaling businesses they’ve gathered as experienced early-stage investors – from building top finance teams to attracting investor attention.

Posted on 13 October 2021 by Alexandra Azevedo
Dawn Capital
Dawn Capital

Dawn Capital, an early-stage investor with a focus on B2B software, started working with Soldo in 2019 after seeing our solution to the biggest challenges in expense and spend management.

We’ve had multiple opportunities to speak to members of Dawn’s team, including CFO Raxita Kapashi and Dawn Partner Evgenia Plotnikova.

Below you’ll find their best advice for growing businesses covering building a team, the IPO process, and getting investors excited about your business.

Levelling up the hiring process

How your finance team works together has a direct impact on the success of your company, which is why CFOs put so much emphasis on managing the people around them.

In conversations with Raxita, she pointed out the value of building the ideal team, and of cultivating a healthy and cohesive workplace environment.

To get a full picture of the candidate, Raxita recommends doing the following:

  • Before interviewing, create a test that replicates the challenges of the role in question to test the candidate’s skills
  • Be honest about what each position entails, and keep expectations in check

This approach came about after Raxita noticed her previous strategy was lacking:

‘I admit that I have made some mistakes and that’s because in the past, I recruited based on just looking at their CV and how a person came across in an interview.’

A strong team makes for a strong company – when people complement each other and work together seamlessly towards common goals, you’re able to grow confidently from a place of stability.

And when your team proves that you can reach those goals and investors see the results from your combined efforts, quality hiring makes a world of difference.

Reaching your team’s full potential

The most competent hires will still need to learn how the company works, and must understand their role within your team.

Giving your team learning opportunities helps them hone their skills and the confidence to fit in and perform at their best.

Raxita and Dawn Capital’s approach to development often includes:

  • Encouraging employees to earn new certifications and attend training courses
  • Offering new joiners step-by-step demonstrations on how to approach a piece of work
  • Hosting monthly sessions where the whole firm gets together and a speaker prepares a talk on a relevant topic to the business

Raxita told us about the mentality they have in the finance department at Dawn:

‘There’s a collective responsibility to improve what we do and how we do things.’

This continual-learning mentality does more than keep your team sharp and ready for future challenges – it makes them feel valued, which raises your chances of keeping the best talent around you for longer.

It also inspires potential candidates to join you, so that you can build an even more impressive roster. Take advantage of it, and the world will take notice.

Adapting to change and turbocharging growth

‘Can you move with the times and use technology to grow your finance department?’, Raxita asks.

For Dawn, technology is linked to how easily you’re able to adapt to change. This ability is even more important in a finance team, as we’ve seen over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adapting gives your finance department more room to grow, allowing them to do more with the data they have and avoid mistakes.

And right now, as Raxita told us on The CFO Playbook podcast, ‘everything is about data’. Raxita suggests you ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • How are you using technology to extrapolate and analyse your financial data?
  • How are you helping your company from a regulatory point of view?

The way you analyse your company spending plays a big part in keeping your company’s finances in top shape.

Automation tools like Soldo record transactions in real time, automate data collection and categorisation, and give you accurate information. Others, such as FUTRLI, use prediction technology to forecast your entire business for years to come, from cash flow, to sales, to spend.

The information you can get from such tools will allow you to spot issues as they happen, make smarter decisions for the business, and fuel your growth.

From an investor’s point of view, this type of technology makes monitoring business performance easier, and tells them what they need to know about how you’re going to grow and scale your finance team.

Navigating the road to growth and IPOs

As an early-stage venture capital firm, Dawn Capital is used to answering questions about scaling sales and go-to-market plans.

An interview with Evgenia Plotnikova, partner at Dawn, offered us valuable insight into how companies ought to tackle these issues.

Most companies prepare the right sales profile and find which marketing channels will work best – ‘whether that’s pure lead generation, a partner program or the many other channels competing for client dollars and market attention’, Evgenia says.

But when you don’t get the results you expect, having the right people backing you can set your business on the best path towards growth.

Companies looking for further backing through an initial public offering (IPO), in order to raise capital to fund this growth – or any other valid reason – will need to prepare appropriately.

On our podcast, Raxita walked us through the IPO journey, from creating a risk document to the Private Placement Memorandum and emphasised that ‘it’s absolutely important that everything is verified and checked and accurate.’

Grasping the market and making it yours

The number one criterion to draw investment from Dawn, according to Evgenia, is a solid understanding of the market.

Investors are justifiably interested in propositions that have found a product/market fit, which can be demonstrated through sales.

But you’ll also need to show investors that your business model works.

Prove your knowledge of the value chain in your markets through viable unit economics to boost investor confidence.

This, as well as getting the regulatory approvals, is inherently linked to scaling – even though a lot of it may be guess work at first, or liable to change as you grow.

All of this starts with the very best leadership, with CEOs who are ‘humble enough to hire people who will lead the way in every function’, as Evgenia points out.

With winners and industry experts on your team, exciting opportunities are more likely to come knocking on your door.

And for investors such as Dawn, keen on supporting potential category-leading businesses, this is proof they’ve found future success.

Be bold

Our productive chats with Raxita and Evgenia, as well as everything we’ve learned with Dawn Capital in our journey together, have shed light on the biggest scaling challenges and how to get through them.

Attracting excellent talent and nurturing it, embracing innovation and digitisation, staying ahead of the curve, and making sure you’ve got the best at the helm will get your foot in investors’ doors.

So, be bold, and kick those doors wide open.

Dawn and Soldo: a fruitful partnership

When Dawn first heard of Soldo, they were quickly sold on our large market opportunity and our exceptional growth.

Dawn co-led Soldo’s $61m Series B in 2019, when Soldo became their largest ever first investment in a fintech business, and were again involved in Soldo’s record $180 million Series C in 2021.

Soldo combines a fully automated platform for tracking and controlling company spending with smart company cards. This helps finance teams significantly cut back on time spent doing manual processing, giving them a real-time view of spend.

There’s a lot more to Soldo, and Dawn knows it from first-hand experience – as happy Soldo clients, too.

It’s the brighter way to manage business spending. Try it here.

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