October 18th, 2012 MIT Enterprise Forum of NYC - Operations & Technology Roundtable Discussion

http://www.mitef-nyc.org/mc/community/eventdetailsPrint.do?print=true&eventId=365876

On Thursday, October 18th, OLC attended the MIT Enterprise Forum of NYC presents: Operations and Technology - Roundtable Discussion for the Venture Capital and Private Equity CFO. This part one of a three part series featured: Nicholas Schiavo, Accounting Director for AltResources; Alex Katz, Partner and CFO, ff Venture Capital; Aron Grossman, CFO and VP of Corporate Development at Voxy and Beth Brinkman, Director of Professional Services US for Vertice Technologies LLC.

                                                

http://www.altrllc.com                http://www.ffvc.com            http://www.voxy.com

The panel discussed a myriad of topics relating to fund and portfolio companies. Some of the questions presented were “How do people, processes and technology interact with each other?” and “How to manage frequent due diligence operational inquiries from investors through operations and technology.”

One question, “Any secrets to setting up non-profit foundations?” led to a lively discussion of Excel vs QuickBooks. Schiavo explained that he viewed spreadsheets as perfectly fine for forecasting, but terrible for things such as debits and credits. “Different people have different styles.” he said. This could result in errors that might never be caught. Brinkman echoed Schiavo’s sentiment. She pointed out that a database  needs two things to thrive - audit-ability and normalcy. In Excel, you don’t have those. The files can be edited after the fact. Employees can accidentally delete something. “A database should be a controlled environment,” she said.

The panel also discussed whether to break information into sectors based on KPI. Most were against this as, as Brinkman put it, “the metrics are just different.” “There are always differences, but we try to collect the things that are global,” said Brinkman.

Grossman walked attendees through his work with his company Voxy. “Outline and brainstorm as a company.” He explained. When collecting and observing data, be sure to not include too much info, while at the same time not including too little data. “Having too much information is as bad as too little information.”

The night concluded with a look into the direction of finance departments. The overall consensus was that roles will be changing and cross-functional roles will be key.