How FloQast became a $1B SaaS company in 8 years

This episode is with Mike Whitmire – Co-Founder and CEO at FloQast, a SaaS platform that helps accountants improve their operational workflows. FloQast recently raised $110M in Series D funding valuing the company at $1.2B. In this episode we talk about how they built a billion dollar company in 8 years in the B2B SaaS space.

LINKS

You’re listening to The Growth Manifesto Podcast, a Zoom video series brought to you by Webprofits – a digital growth consultancy that helps global and national businesses attract, acquire, and retain customers through digital marketing.

Hosted by Alex Cleanthous.

SHOW NOTES

  • 00:01:07 Mike Whitmire introduction to the Growth Manifesto Podcast
  • 00:01:56 What does FloQast provide?
  • 00:04:17 How did you cope with the transition?
  • 00:08:55 What’s the first 24 months like when you started this kind of venture?
  • 00:14:59 How hard was it to scrap your project?
  • 00:18:58 How did you get your first 10 customers?
  • 00:22:17 Do you hire your accountants and train them on sales?
  • 00:24:15 How many clients did you have before you started investing in marketing?
  • 00:26:10 How did you shift sales and marketing to attract larger companies?
  • 00:28:53 What is your content strategy?
  • 00:33:33 What is your approach in content creation?
  • 00:40:20 Why did you choose the investment/funding path?
  • 00:40:55 Are there any changes in your operations when you got the $1.3 million
  • 00:41:25 Are there any big changes in the process when you had $110 million versus $1.3 million raise?
  • 00:45:11 Are there any changes in the business now that you raised $110 million?
  • 00:49:55 Is there anything which you thought was true but wasn’t?
  • 00:52:15 What’s your approach to the culture of FloQast?
  • 00:55:10 What’s the hardest thing for you when it comes to growth?
  • 00:59:05 Is FloQast an international brand?

TRANSCRIPT

Mike Whitmire:

I think, and this is from my experience, that the reality of accounting is that most accountants don’t want to get better at accounting, they want to work less and go home earlier and enjoy life a little bit more. And so let’s just embrace that and keep it a little bit more real and be real human beings, and just be like, “Hey, maybe it’s not, oh, I want to optimise my close process so I can take an extra hour and focus on strategic initiatives and blah, blah, blah.” Maybe it’s more like, “I want to optimise my close so I can save an hour so I can go home earlier and have dinner with my family.” Maybe that’s the real answer, and you can appeal to that real human aspect of it.

So I think that’s a big thing for me with a lot of our content and our voices, I want to be informal. We’re accounts, we get it. I want to speak to how accountants really are, not some stereotyped, made-up version of accountants that aren’t actually how we really are in real life. So it’s trying to keep it more real, be fun, be entertaining, try to straddle that line and just be a little bit different, because I think a lot of the B2B content is pretty boring that’s targeted at finance and accounting.

Alex Cleanthous:

Today, we’re talking with Mike Whitmire, co-founder and CEO of FloQast, a SaaS platform that helps accountants improve their operational workflows. FloQast recently raised $110 million in series D funding, valuing the company at $1.2 billion, that’s billion with a B. Today, we’ll be talking about how they built a billion-dollar company in less than 10 years within the B2B SaaS space, which is a very competitive space. And just quickly before we get started, make sure to go ahead and hit that Subscribe button so you get the latest episodes as soon as they’re released. So let’s get into it. Welcome, Mike.

Mike Whitmire:

Alex, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, for sure. And there’s a lot to cover in this conversation, so we’re going to jump around a lot. But I do want to tell the story and then get into all of the details around your growth. But let’s just start at the very, very, very, very top, what does FloQast provide and what audience does it serve?

Mike Whitmire:

Interesting question, because like a lot of companies, we started with a niche pain point and a niche product that we had built, and over time, it’s evolved to do a lot more. We started off solving a very specific process within an accounting department called the month-end close process. I’m not going to bore the audience with all the details around it, but suffice to say, it’s incredibly important, it’s very underappreciated, and it’s very complicated. And it’s key because it is the foundation for things like financial statement preparation, which is what investors rely on to make their decisions. It’s key for getting through the audit, which is a very expensive and risky endeavour. And then it’s key for making sure that numbers that you’re forecasting and projections are accurate.

So, all of that depends on this month-end close process that accountants are doing every month. It’s incredibly manual. A lot of it can be automated. It’s a collaborative effort. So what we did was we said, “Hey, the month-end close is a pain. I lived it. I really hated it.” And so we built software to help solve that problem. And as time has gone on, as the last six or seven years of clients using FloQast has progressed, the use cases have in brought to now, we don’t say we’re a close management software anymore, we say, “Hey, we’re accounting workflow automation and we help run the entire operational function of an accounting department. And that includes the close, but also things like taxes, accounts receivable, payroll, commission reporting.”

All these other things that live around accounting, we now help manage. So I really think about this as like an operational platform for the office of the CFO, really.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, for sure. And I’m involved in a few companies, I’m a director, I’m a shareholder, and yeah, the end of month books, trying to get those financials closed so we can look at the numbers so we can actually have conversations about what actually happened, can take forever. It can literally take weeks, and that’s almost like into the next month now. So that speed thing I think starts to solve a real need within the accounting space. And so yeah, I could already see the value of just getting that information a bit quicker and improving some of those processes.

Alex Cleanthous:

But you’re an accountant by trade. Is that correct? Just before you started this software?

Mike Whitmire:

Yeah, exactly.

Alex Cleanthous:

And so, how did you transition from, “Hey, I’m an accountant. Hey, I’m going to create some software,” and now like it’s a $1 billion plus unicorn, as they call it? So how did you get into that transition?

Mike Whitmire:

Well, I think I’m a weird mix of risk-taking entrepreneur, but also an accountant at the same time. So I got here, I would say, I grew up this way, it’s through my parents. My mom is an accountant and runs a bookkeeping firm and provides business consulting for small businesses and family offices in Los Angeles. My dad is a tax attorney turned author who writes the book on incredibly boring taxation law, but has moved into entrepreneurship from there. So both of my parents took this accounting, tax background and became entrepreneurs with it. And then one of the things I got into at high school was, it was the late ’90s, every tech company was going public.

That was like, “Oh, this stock market’s a really interesting thing,” and learning about companies like Yahoo and so on and so forth. And so then I was like, “Okay. I know I want to start my own company one day and I want to take it public. That would be amazing.” That’s been my goal for a really long time, and I’ve always been very entrepreneurial through another facet of other areas. And then when I got to college, I actually went for film. I went to school for film completely, obviously, unrelated, and ended up finding a business programme, taking accounting. I was like, “I’m pretty good at this. It’s pretty interesting.” And so I ended up majoring in accounting, and here we are today.

I took the natural career path, which is: you go to a big four audit firm, you work there for a few years, you get your CPA licence, and then you move out. And when I moved out of audit, I was like, “All right, I really want to get to a pre-IPO company to see what that looks like from behind the scenes. And so I was very focused on that. And in LA at the time, not the easiest thing in the world, but I found a company called Cornerstone OnDemand. This was in 2009. They had just taken on their first round of venture funding, and were about to go public. They said 12 to 18 months. That was the timeline they gave me. So I loved it.

I was the 95th employee at the company, the fifth person in accounting. I helped scale that up. And I was there for three years. Going public, growing a team to about 60 people on the finance team, it was just this great learning experience. But that was where I was like, “Wow. The month-end close is a huge pain in the ass. And there’s actually an opportunity here. Maybe I’ll go and start a company to solve this problem.” And so it was wonderful that my degree in accounting actually became useful in my entrepreneurial journey as well. I happened to find a pain point that was within the world I was operating, and that great.

10 years ago, if you said, “Hey, you’re going to start an accounting company one day and you’re going to love it.” I’d be like, “No. Come on. That sounds ridiculous.” But it is, and I love it. And it’s great. It’s been a lot of fun.

Alex Cleanthous:

What’s interesting about that is that it wasn’t created on a whim. You’ve been planning this, thinking about this, you took steps to work in a company that was going to list on the stock market. You’ve had intention. What’s funny is that you tried to buck the trend with your parents by saying, “While you’re you in accounting, I’m going to go into art.” And then somehow you got pulled back into accounting, and now you’re in the business side of things, which is very creative. There’s a lot of creativity, which is really interesting because you think accounting software in the B2B space for the month-end close, but literally, that’s one part, but there’s so much creative freedom in scaling a startup, right?

Mike Whitmire:

Well, starting a business is close to a blank slate. It’s a canvas and go figure out what you want to build from here. It’s, to me, incredibly creative. And I did realise, if I went into film, I probably would’ve ended up as a producer or the person who was raising money, getting the idea off the ground, and then hiring directors and whatnot from there. So I did realise that business was probably the better area for me, not so much the true creative details of it. Anyway.

Alex Cleanthous:

Well, coming from an accounting family that’s entrepreneurial, I’m sure your parents are very proud right now because now you’ve found a way to scale up an accounting company to probably one of the largest accounting software companies in the world. It’s not easy to build a company to $1.2 billion across any space. And accounting software, who would’ve thought? So that’s awesome. But you took the plunge. So you started the company. What was the first 12 to 24 months like in starting this kind of venture?

Mike Whitmire:

I had the idea and I was still working full time. I had gotten a small option grant when I joined Cornerstone. And so, as part of that, and I’d say the numbers, no problem. I had $25,000 in the bank and I was like, “Okay, I realise”-

Alex Cleanthous:

On Crunchbase, by the way, as well.

Mike Whitmire:

My savings account is listed out there. Here’s what you got. So I was like, “Okay, I have a little bit of money. I think this idea is really good. The problem is a huge pain for us and I don’t see anyone really solving the problem.” And so I decided to actually just quit. It wasn’t like a side hustle or a nighttime thing or anything. It is, “All right, you have $25,000 in the bank and you have no job now. Get after it and go figure it out.” That is a great catalyst, man. It lit a fire under me. And step one was, “All right, I have no product. I have to figure out how to build a product. So do I raise money or do I find a founder or what do I do?”

So I just started talking to all kinds of people. The first introduction I got was to a startup accelerator here in LA by the name of Amplify.LA. I had a really good connection to one of them, kind of weaselled my way into an introduction and had lunch with them. And the guy was like, “Great idea. We’d love to invest in some more SaaS companies in LA. Your background’s perfect for this.” Literally, he goes, “Dude, you need a co-founder, a product and a customer before I can even talk to you about this.” So I was like, “Okay, how do you do that?” He’s like, “Well, go find a co-founder and get them to build it for free.” I’m like, “Okay, I’ll go do that.”

And so went on, and this is one of the more ridiculous stories of the journey here. So the only engineers I knew in the Los Angeles area were out of Cornerstone, and I was not about to poach out of Cornerstone, because I’m not looking to burn bridges in a pretty small tech scene like that early on in the journey of the company. So I’m like, “All right, I’m not going to be recruiting from there, so how can I figure this out.” I stumbled across this website called cofounderlab.com, which is literally like match.com, it’s like a dating website for entrepreneurs. So I posted my profile as I’m this business development guy who’s looking to start a company, and I started scouring the profiles of a bunch of tech people who basically sit on a throne and are like, “I build software. All of you people who want to start your own company, come pitch your ideas to me and I will accept or reject them.”

So it’s almost like the earliest stage venture pitch, is really with CTO candidates. It’s very much like raising money. I went out, I was looking through profiles. I found like 40 people in LA who I thought would be a good fit, started whittling down the list, had lunches and met with them and all this kind of stuff. And at the bottom of my funnel popped out my co-founder, Cullen Zandstra, who’s our CTO. Great background. I love working with him. It’s been awesome working with him for the last eight years. Who knows coming off one of those websites what kind of relationship you’re getting yourself into.

It was such a big one, but it’s been amazing working with him. It worked out really, really well. And it was tough in LA because we’re in a cool market. There are a lot of cool opportunities out there and I’m out there pitching some boring accounting collaboration software. He came out of MySpace where he saw the demise of MySpace, as he puts it, when Facebook came on the scene, and he was just like, “I want nothing to do with consumer, I want to do enterprise software. People pay us money for the software that we write. That sounds amazing.” I’m like, “Yep. That’s great.” And so he hopped on board and it’s been great ever since then.

And then once I got him to build the product, my mom bought the software, and then I went back to Amplify and I was like, “Hey, I got a co-founder, a product, and a customer. You said you’d let me in.” And so all of us played together. And then I went back, I put the suit on, I pitched them and we got into Amplify from there. And then our third co-founder Chris Sluty, I’ve actually known him since college. He’s also an accountant. In college, he was always like, “Hey, man, when you start your first company, let me know. I want to be involved in it.” And then fortunately, it was accounting based, so his background is perfect for what we’re doing.

So, those are the co-founders, myself, our CTO, Cullen Zandstra, and then our chief product officer now, Chris Sluty. We put that product out, and I was trying to sell it, I was trying to raise more money. We were struggling from all kinds of different angles. The big, big, big decision we made and it was really tough was we ultimately decided to scrap the entire first product that we had built and built a whole new one from the ground up. We thought we had a better approach, we learned a lot with the first version. We were about to close our seed round right around the time we made that decision. I actually had verbal commitments for 1.3 million before….

And we were in the middle of like, “No, we need to get rid of the software.” Our first lead investor was a fund called Toba Capital. We had worked with them a tonne. Like I said, they had given me the verbal they were giving us money, and I called them up and was like, “Hey, guys, I definitely don’t want to start our relationship off on the wrong foot, so I want to be fully transparent. I’ve gotten enough nos on selling now where we’re going to scrap the software and build a new version of it. And if you want to pull the term sheet, I completely understand because that’s not the bill of goods you’ve sold here. I just want to be honest with you.”

And they were like, “No, we really appreciate that. And we think it’s the right decision. So we’d love to make the investment. Let’s go for it and let’s build a new version.” It was great. So that was arguably the biggest moment in FloQast history, was changing the actual software we built, rewriting all the code, building it up. And that was the product that we took to market in Q1 2015 and have been selling ever since then. So yeah, that first 18 months or two years, a lot of figuring stuff out, back and forth. It all worked out though.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, that’s awesome. There’s a couple of points in that story, which I really like. I think the first part is the third co-founder in college said, “When you start something, you should call me.” So, you were thinking and you were quite entrepreneurial from quite a young age… That’s really cool. The second part is that, how hard would it have been to just scrap the project? That must have been such a hard decision at the time, because you’ve come all this way, got 1.3 mil just sitting there, they’re about to close, and now you’re having to make all these decisions.

That says something about you in terms of what you are looking to create. Because a lot of companies, they would’ve just got the money and then they would’ve transitioned and then they would’ve done something else. But then at one point, people need to leave companies now. And so it seems that integrity and quality of the product and service is quite high. But you mentioned that there were quite a lot of sales calls where people were saying no. So what was happening at that point?

Mike Whitmire:

What would happen is, we were still solving the month end, close process, that’s what we were helping with. But we said, “Hey, here’s FloQast. You upload your documents here, you sign off on stuff here.” So what would happen is, I would do the selling motion and the team would love it. I’d get down to the end, we’d get through pricing and all that stuff. And then I’d get handed off to the IT and the security team. And they’d be like, “Okay, tell us more about your company.” And I’m like, “It’s three dudes. We have about $28,000 left in the bank. We got 50K from this great seed stage fund here in LA.” And they’d be like, “Okay, tell us more about, are SOC compliant? Do you have these reports, blah, blah, blah?”

I’m like, “No, but just trust us.” It got shut down so many times. The final straw for me was a company called Whataburger out of Texas. They make great hamburgers. We had approved everyone, the CFO was ready to go on like a 50 seed deal, which would’ve been huge for us. And then IT just shuts it down and I’m like, Okay, this is going to keep happening. How do we get around it?” Like I said, the big issue was that we were asking them to upload financial information into FloQast as a company with three dudes and not a lot of money in the bank. And so I was like, “Crap, how do we get around this?”

And the way we got around it was by scrapping the entire product, building a new one and building it on top of cloud storage providers like box.com, was our first integration. So this is just out in necessity, this is like, “How do we get the security problem?” Well, we don’t hold any of it, that’s how we get around the security problem. So all of a sudden that talk track went from, “How many people do you have? How big is your company? We’re putting our files in box.com.” We’re like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re putting them in box.com. Don’t worry about FloQast, box.com, they’re great. Publicly traded, the Department of Justice uses them. Don’t worry about it, man. Your files are always going to be there. Worst case scenario, FloQast goes out of business, you rip us out, you still have your Box folders, all your stuff’s still there. Don’t worry about it.”

It was out of necessity, but then it ended up being really good for us because it’s actually a much better user experience to be able to work that way. It allowed us to integrate with more solutions that they use already. And so really it was just like beating my head against the wall, getting frustrated and then having the idea and just having to pull the trigger. In the CPA world, in accounting, integrity is of most importance. What we do is audit people and make sure people aren’t lying and that they’re telling the truth and stuff. I’m painfully honest with investors with the market, you know what’s going well and not so well at FloQast regardless.

I wasn’t sitting there like, “Oh, I have this intense moral conundrum. What’s the right thing to do?” It was just like, “We made the decision, it needs to be communicated.” There we go.

Alex Cleanthous:

Oh, that’s cool. And it’s interesting because sometimes when you build, you think you need to build everything. The box.com service, the software, they’ve already spent how many hundreds of millions of dollars on that, you can just leverage that and basically add like a simple layer on top, and now that’s like year one. So it’s super interesting how you can start to leverage all these platforms to just get you that first step through the process. How did you get your first 10 customers, your first 10 customers that continued to pay you?

Mike Whitmire:

First 10 customers.

Alex Cleanthous:

And not your mom, by the way.

Mike Whitmire:

Not my mom. No, they don’t count. And they’re no longer clients of ours. So the timing around that was, the decision to scrap the software was made in early 2014. And since it was more complicated, it took us a longer time to build. So there was this weird phase where I personally didn’t have a lot to do because I wasn’t selling software, I wasn’t raising money, so I would go out and I would pitch the vision. I would just show the mockups of what we were building, get feedback. I called it selling a mockup in a dream at the time. So that was getting some demand built up. And then by the time we launched the product, November Q4 was when we got our first paying client on it, and it was through that exercise.

And then over the course of Q1, Q1 2015, we onboarded our next like six or seven clients. And I would say, I think half of them are still with us, maybe more than half of them are still with us today. So you fast forward seven years and you think about all that, it’s pretty amazing that we scaled that way. But we hired a sales team pretty quickly, a lot earlier than other companies. I felt really confident through all my earlier conversations that we had product market fit, we were ready to go, this is something that could be sold. I had personally had enough conversations and sold enough deals to where I was like, “All right, I want to get this company off the ground and get it going, and we need to get people in here to do that.”

So the very first hire we made was on the sales side, we hired an account executive. He was a younger guy, but really, really smart, very hard working, go getter, super impressive individual. He had a couple years of selling software experience. That was it. The guy came in and did a killer job for us, and it was just like pounding phones, sending emails, getting demos booked, running demos, negotiating, going through security reviews and closing business together. So he and I worked really closely for the first quarter, I would say, and he ramped very fast. So I was like, “Sweet. All right, man, you get to hit the ground running a little bit.”

A couple months into his time here, we hired our first business development representative. He’s a younger guy. He was out of accounting, but we hired him into sales. This is very important because it’s a blueprint that we have executed on through the entire history of the company. So he was working as an auditor. He should never have gone into audit. He was a USC frat guy, no fit in audit. Wanted to be in business development, so moved out, came over to FloQast, and now he’s actually done so well. He’s now the general manager of our London office. So we have a presence out in London, and he runs that whole office and has gone over and set it up.

Our two early market hires were key, they did huge things for the business. I feel so fortunate that we happened to get great people as those first two hires, or I don’t know if we’d be here today. They were so instrumental in the business.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, that makes such a big difference, especially like those early hires, because there’s not much leeway. It’s expensive, it’s hard. It’s all your money, obviously. And so that’s super important. But also, you talked about hiring accountants and training them on sales, is that what you said?

Mike Whitmire:

Yep.

Alex Cleanthous:

And that’s being a part of your success because now it’s accountants linked to accountants, not sales people that don’t understand accounting trying to sell to accountants. Is that right?

Mike Whitmire:

Exactly. Pretty simple right.

Alex Cleanthous:

And that’s what you still do today?

Mike Whitmire:

Is what we do today.

Alex Cleanthous:

So you still hire accountants, train them how to sell, versus-

Mike Whitmire:

Yeah, we hired 10 last month, started.

Alex Cleanthous:

Awesome. Awesome. In the beginning, was the predominant way of tracking new client basically outreach?

Mike Whitmire:

Yeah. I got a copy of a book called Predictable Revenue, and I pretty much followed the Predictable Revenue model to the T, maybe a little too much. I was really hesitant to spend marketing dollars because as an account, I like my ROI. So I know that if I hire a business development rep, if they sit at their desk and they send out X number of emails per week and make X number of phone calls per week, we will book X number of demos, we will close X percentage of demos, we will get X number of clients. I can predict that. I love that. I know that I’m going to get something out of what I’m spending. And we were actually shockingly accurate with that formula from the first quarter selling, it was really weird that formula worked out.

But I didn’t invest in marketing, and so it was purely pounding phones, sending emails. I’m sure we put some people off with being way too persistent about stuff, but that’s really what it was. And in 2016, that was when we started to layer on little more true marketing to FloQast. But for the first 18 months, our marketing was, we hacked together a crappy website, we would sponsor conferences, we would get stuff outsourced and designed. The bar was, basically, as long as it’s not terrible, that’s good enough, let’s go figure it out.

Alex Cleanthous:

And so then you said that you started to invest in marketing at that point, right?

Mike Whitmire:

Yep.

Alex Cleanthous:

So how many clients before you started to invest in marketing? What did you do with marketing?

Mike Whitmire:

We had 50 clients when we hired our first product marketer, and we hired another younger woman who came out of the software world as well, an up and comer. And she came in and just did everything, was like a complete dynamo. It was amazing to watch her work. And what we did was, since she was a little bit more junior, we paired her with a CMO consultant. So I had someone from my network who was really good, he is an experienced CMO, and so we brought him on and he worked with her. I think it was two days a week out the gate. And so I had like a good experienced B2B SaaS marketer paired with a very smart, very hungry go getter. Sylvia was her name, who helped build up that whole marketing function.

And ultimately, I twisted the CMO’s arm into joining us full time and he was our CMO for about four years there. But that was it, is hiring just some great hungry, smart people who can get it off the ground and have a bit of experience. I would say that actually describes our first three marketing hires — generalists who are just very smart, very hardworking, and career-driven. And they’ve done really good things in their career, either at FloQast or outside of FloQast.

Alex Cleanthous:

In the beginning, I’m assuming that it’s easy to outreach to accountants because no one outreaches to accountants. There’s maybe the typical SEO company that’s going, “Hey, we can get you to the top of Google,” because they basically outreach to everyone on the internet. But apart from that, it seems like a pretty untapped market. So it feels like that would’ve been not too difficult to get in touch with people. But then you moved into enterprise sized deals, and it’s often not the same as the phone bangers that are just trying to contact basically every accountant across every area. So how did you shift sales and marketing to now start to attract these larger companies?

Mike Whitmire:

Well, it’s all about targeting within an accounting, and it’s important to know which people matter and which people don’t. Most companies selling FloQast, we’d go out there and say, “CFO, we’ve got to get in front of the CFO. This is an important process for them. Their numbers are going to fall apart if they’re… So they’re going to really care about this.” I worked in this world, I know the CFO does not give a crap about the month-end close process, all they want to know is that it’s done quickly, it’s done accurately, and it’s not holding stuff up.

The one who actually loses sleep at night about it is the controller, assistant controller, and accounting manager. So let’s target them. So you can target those specific personas. And yeah, to your point, they don’t get as many cold emails or cold calls as the CFO does, and so you have a higher probability of them opening something up. And if it’s engaging and interesting and will help solve their problem, then they’ll take the time to dig around and then hopefully book a demo from there. So it was really about being targeted, and that persona doesn’t change all that much as you go up market. It’s pretty much the controller.

But it’s definitely things like the magic quadrants start to matter. What Gartner says about the industry, they start to care about that at the upper end of the market. A lot of people, particularly with accounting, they’re just not going to believe what a sales rep says, they need to hear it from somebody else. It has to be referred to by a friend, they have an old coworker who’s used it, something to that effect. And trade shows as well. Reality is, people sponsor trade shows for a reason. People go to them, and we’ve closed a lot of businesses off of those. That’s more than targeted at what…

We focus on ERP, so do I want to try to sell to NetSuite or Intacct or SAP or Oracle or whatever. So you target your marketing resources, really, that way based on ERP. And company size is more of an outbound targeting motion. For the bigger companies, you’re going to have to be targeted with outbound and it’s just a big effort to get the right kind of demo lined up.

Alex Cleanthous:

How about LinkedIn ads? Is that something which you’ve experimented with, have found success in, or not?

Mike Whitmire:

Let’s see. The time I experimented with it, it completely sucked. We totally wasted all of our money. I’ve been told by our marketing department it’s working out better now, but I’m a little too removed from it at this point. I just trust our CMO with whatever he wants to deal with the social budget.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, I got it. How about on the content side of things? I see that you create quite a lot of content talking to CFOs and talking to specific accounting functions within organisations. What’s your strategy in terms of the content side of things?

Mike Whitmire:

Content’s one of my favourite topics. I think we’re about to do a lot of big things with content. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag too early, but I’m very excited about what we’re doing with our content strategy, broadly speaking. But I will say that a big focus of mine and just with the audience is I think there’s a really big misunderstanding of accountants and what we are actually like as human beings. You see a lot of the content that’s out there for finance and accounting people, very professional, very buttoned up, very much on. How are you better at your job? How do you excel at this? How do you adopt this guidance? All that stuff.

All of that is important, obviously, and we’re professionals and we want to be good at what we do, but I think, and this is from my experience, that the reality of accounting is, most accountants don’t want to get better at accounting, they want to work less and go home earlier and enjoy life a little bit more. And so let’s just embrace that and keep it a little bit more real and be real human beings. And just be like, “Hey, maybe it’s not, oh, I want to optimise my close process so I can take an extra hour and focus on strategic initiatives, and blah, blah, blah.” Maybe it’s more like, “I want to optimise my close so I can save an hour so I can go home earlier and have dinner with my family.” Maybe that’s the real answer, and you can appeal to that real human aspect of it.

So I think that’s a big thing for me with a lot of our content and our voices, I want to be informal. We’re accounts, we get it. I want to speak to how accountants really are, not some stereotyped, made-up version of accountants that aren’t actually how we really are in real life. So it’s trying to keep it more real, be fun, be entertaining, try to straddle that line and just be a little bit different, because I think a lot of the B2B content is pretty boring that’s targeted at finance and accounting.

Alex Cleanthous:

Let me just do this in two parts. The first part is, I look at some of the content that you’ve done in the past, and you created a colouring book for accountants. Actually, could you explain exactly what that was and how that worked, because I thought it was a really different way of thinking about engaging with your audience, and I thought, “Wow, I’ve not seen that before.”

Mike Whitmire:

I love it. And their creativity. Calling back to that, I oversee this group that produces, we call it, alternative content inside of FloQast. So it’s one of my favourite initiatives and I oversee it because you do need that in-depth understanding of accountants to really, I think, be effective at it. So the colouring book that came with the team, we were sitting around like, “Hey, it’s mental health awareness month, what’s going on? What can we do?” And one of the guys said, “Well, I have a colouring book that’s really good, helps me chill out and stuff like that.” And we were like, “Great, perfect. Let’s do a colouring book for accountants.”

And so we’re brainstorming, what are some funny pictures, what are some good ideas for things that could be the actual pages that they colour in, settled on some ideas, and then you hire someone to design it, you get the book made and then you just put the PDF out for people to print and do what they want with it. And so to me, that’s the thing where we’re aware of accounting. We were tapping into a bigger worldwide trend around mental health awareness month, how do we apply it to our audience and really help the people that we work with and have them enjoy it? And so, kind of a team effort, all came together and I thought it was a very cool content initiative.

Alex Cleanthous:

One of the parts of the colouring book because look, what was cool about it as well was the things which were in it which you could colour in. So I think I read there were some famous mathematicians in there and stuff like that. So it was super interesting as well, because it’s not just a colouring book, but it’s a colouring book for accountants that have concepts that accountants will understand. And I just thought that was really, really smart.

Mike Whitmire:

Yeah. That’s where you have the creative idea and then the accounting all comes together, because you could be like, “Here’s a colouring book, here’s some cool fish patterns you can colour or nature, or whatever.” But no, we grab the picture of Luca Pacioli where he’s the guy who invented double entry bookkeeping. And so we have his original image as one you colour in. There are a couple other stories that are really good and it all ties back to accounting, but the goal of giving you something to colour and turn your brain off a little bit and chill out too while you’re doing it.

Alex Cleanthous:

That was my first part. And I just had to tell that story because I looked at it, I was like, “I’ve been doing this for a long time.” And I was like, “I’ve never seen a SaaS company or an accounting company or any company do a colouring book.” But it was really, really cool and it’s something which I could see actually working. And that’s the part which I want to talk about now. You said most B2B content, super boring and so on, what’s your approach to content? Because people talk about content that is established as credibility and it creates our thought leadership and so on, but you’ve got a different approach. So could you talk about how you see content?

Mike Whitmire:

Yeah. Content, it’s funny, I’m curious if our CMO is going to listen to this, what he has to say about, but a lot of content that’s made by B2B companies is very much about, it’s demand generation focused, and mostly that comes around education and how do you be better at your job, which is important. I don’t want to downplay that at all, that’s very important, everyone wants to be great at what they do. However, when I look at accounting, a lot of people majored in accounting because they wanted a steady paycheck and they’re not necessarily sure about how do I become a CFO one day.

Maybe you’re an accounting manager and you love that job and you’re not working a tonne, you’re working 40 hours, you get to hang out with your family, you play softball on the weekends with your friends, have barbecues and that’s an amazing life, and that’s what you want to do. You don’t want to talk about optimising blah, blah, blah process or whatever. That’s totally cool. I get it. And so it’s important to have a mix of content that hits at the people who really care about their job and really want to excel. And we do that through educational content and in particular, we like to do things that qualify for CPE credits.

So CPAs have an ongoing learning requirement. They have to take 40 hours of courses every year to remain… So we do that. So we do a bunch of webinars and stuff that are all CPE certified. So we try to make it as easy as possible for accounts to stay up to date with their CPA licence by doing that

Alex Cleanthous:

Just quickly for the listeners, just think about how smart that is, is content that the accountants can do to help with their qualification. So that is smart. I just wanted to really pull that out because imagine if you could create content that your target audience had to do as part of their continuing professional education. Anyway, I just had to pull that one out because that’s a good leverage point. Anyway, sorry, I cut you off.

Mike Whitmire:

No. So it’s not to pat myself on the back too much, but it was a great idea. And our second marketer, she got us all approved with the CPA licence board is called NASBA and there are a couple others, so she got us approved with all of that. So now we can host all of our webinars that are compliant with that. Now, a lot of companies in our space do that, it’s not like completely earth shattering, but what’s different is it is so boring when you watch a webinar by another company. So, so boring. And then the questions are like, you can get them wrong or right, it boggles my mind.

When I host a webinar and we’ve set this tone, so everyone else at FloQast who hosts webinars, is just like, “Hey, this is not super professional, we’re going to be informal. We know what the hell we’re talking about, we’re accountants, we love this stuff, we’re great at it.” But we don’t take ourselves too seriously and we’re not going to wear suits on webinars and stuff like that. And then there are no right or wrong answers for the questions. We get that you’re all here to just try to get your CPE credit, we’re going to make that happen. Pay attention as much as you can, but just like clicking the answers, there’s no right or wrong answer. You will get your credit coming off of this.

And so it’s that beautiful mix of, we know what they want, which is education requirements, we also know that a lot of accounts are more chill than you would expect. And so let’s just lean into that and make it easy for them to get what they need, which is all the stuff. So I would say yeah, we like our formal content, but with an informal spin on it. And then the other angle that I really love is, and this is how I think you nailed the not as professionally focused folks, is by focusing on the entertaining component of what you do. So that’s where things like the colouring book would come into play. I did a really dumb blog post.

Did you watch Game of Thrones by chance?

Alex Cleanthous:

Of course. Yes.

Mike Whitmire:

The House of Lannister, they were like the rich house on the show and everything. So I have no idea why I had this idea, but I was like, “What would the financial statements of the House of Lannister look like?”

Alex Cleanthous:

That’s awesome.

Mike Whitmire:

So I built up audited financial statements. So I actually put together audited financial statements for the House of Lannister. It’s on the FloQast blog, and it also made it to another accounting blog called Going Concern, because they were just like, “What the hell is this? Who would take the time to do this?” But there’s actually enough commentary in Game of Thrones to where you can build up a financial statement. So if you want to check it out, go for it.

Alex Cleanthous:

Check it out, everyone, please. I’m going to check it out after this, because I always wondered how much is Lannister worth? And what about the bank that funds them? Who the hell are those people?

Mike Whitmire:

It was the Iron Bank.

Alex Cleanthous:

The Iron Bank.

Mike Whitmire:

So the exact premise was the Iron Bank decided they wanted to audit the House of Lannister. And I was tasked with putting the audited financial statements together. So I went in and put their… You’ll see how they’re doing it at the end of the podcast.

Alex Cleanthous:

That’s really cool. But it’s really cool. And I think what this brings up and it’s something that’s in the B2B space, is that people know that it’s important to create content, so they create content and they’re following like a formula, but what’s interesting is to really stand out. You actually follow the formula, but you can get creative in parts. And if you can push the boundaries, that’s where people start to go, “What the heck is that? Oh, cool. So who’s that company?” And it’s such a good place to start an engagement of some sort. So I just think that’s just super interesting, and it’s got me thinking too.

Mike Whitmire:

I will say that the key is you have to do both though, because if we didn’t do the serious education stuff, then it’s like, “Oh, who are these goofballs that just make fun.” So you need to play it well, it’s a difficult game with a brand, but I think if you can do both of them obviously, that’s cool.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah. For sure, I think that’s a fantastic point. So thank you for saying that. Let’s jump onto the investment side of things, because since you started, you’ve raised almost 230 million, which is pretty amazing. So congratulations on that. And you talked about your first funding round, what was that company again, like in Los Angeles?

Mike Whitmire:

Kind of weird. Accelerator in LA called Amplify.LA.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah. And so from that point to the next point, because you talked about the 1.3 million raise, and so I’m assuming they still funded you, is that right? Or did they not fund you at that time

Mike Whitmire:

Amplify has continued to participate in each of the rounds, but they haven’t led subsequent rounds, but they have put more capital into FloQast. So I feel very good about what we’ve done for them. I take a lot of pride in getting them a return on their investment because they took such a big risk for us. So it’s been awesome that they’ve put more money in along the way and have made even more, so that’s cool.

Alex Cleanthous:

And so the first one is, why did you choose the investment path, the funding path?

Mike Whitmire:

Because I want to build a public company and I don’t want it to take 30 years. So let’s take on some money, and it comes down to I’d rather own a smaller portion of a massive business.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah. And it’s a massive business. Well, it’s pretty massive compared to most, it’s probably just not as massive as what you want it to be by far.

Mike Whitmire:

We’re working on it. We’re going to make it happen.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, yeah. That’s the first part. Cool. And so that’s connected all the way through the past job and now the company which you founded, oh, which you co-founded. Now, when you got that 1.3 mill, what changed in how you were operating?

Mike Whitmire:

Not much. It was just like, “Okay, here we go.” We had to hire some people. It was the first time we ever had to hire employees. We finally got the hell out of the accelerator and we got to rent a little house that we all worked out of to get the company off the ground. So we went from being three guys who overstayed our welcome at the accelerator because it took us too long to raise money to, “All right, we’re out of here. We’re going to go get our company started.” And we were off and running at the house, hiring some engineers. So that was the first time working with non-founders. And that’s interesting.

We had to let go of a couple people really early, but we did end up making such amazing hires out the gate, many of whom are still with us today and have played huge roles in FloQast. So I was hiring people and getting used to building a team was the big thing.

Alex Cleanthous:

And then, because I’m going to keep this part short because there’s just so many parts to it, but 1.3 million, what year was that?

Mike Whitmire:

That was in 2013, when I started the process. I think we closed the round in 2014.

Alex Cleanthous:

  1. That’s 1.3 million. And then in July, you got 110 million. So 100 times the size of the raise, right?

Mike Whitmire:

Yep.

Alex Cleanthous:

Did much change in the process between the 1.3 million rise and the 110 million rise or is it similar?

Mike Whitmire:

No, the one 110 was so much easier. The 110, easiest round I’ve ever closed. We didn’t even close around, people were coming to us with term sheets. The 1.3 is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. The 6.5 was probably the hardest one that I ever did in my life, but 1.3 was brutal and there was a lot of nos, a lot of work and very close to just packing it up and calling it. The one 110 is way different. And we’re at a point where people believe in the business, they like me personally, they’ve seen me grow as an entrepreneur. And so it’s just a very, very, very different conversation.

Alex Cleanthous:

Okay. So the 1.3 was a game changer, and at that point, you were saying that in the first 18 months or whatever it was, it wasn’t really a product, there wasn’t really much to do. And so you were practising a lot of pictures and trialling stories and so on. How important was that practise to being able to close at 1.3?

Mike Whitmire:

The 1.3 was closed, it was like six months after we joined Amplify.LA. So I would say the biggest thing I did was when I started FloQast, I hated speaking in front of people. I could not do public speaking, I would not do this podcast right now. This would’ve been incredibly intimidating to me. So one of my things was actually starting to go to Toastmasters and work on public speaking and get some confidence around it and practise. And that was incredibly helpful for anyone who is self-conscious about public speaking, and cannot recommend Toastmaster highly enough. It’s literally life-changing for me.

So with that, I can now speak in front of investors, I got more practise with customers. That was no problem, I refined the pitch, worked on and read body language and saw reactions and what resonates with them, what doesn’t resonate with them. So a lot of practise, but Toastmaster, the training was the biggest thing for me with presenting.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah. And that’s something I can confirm as well. There’ve been quite a few people at Webprofits that stepped into a leadership role and they weren’t really comfortable talking. They went to toastmaster, came back from there, it just changed them. They had something to focus on, they had a structure, and then they found themselves after that. So it helps get you comfortable talking in front of people. So I think that’s a fantastic point. Did much change in the business now that you’ve raised 110 mil or is it like the first time round or now it’s like cool, now we’ve got to go accelerate way faster now

Mike Whitmire:

The pressure’s always there because we’re a high growth VC backed SaaS company. And so the pressure to grow is there every year. Right now I’m having a bunch of calls with VPs and directors that are like, “Oh my gosh, next year’s going to be crazy, how are we going to do it? We’re lining up for a crazy year.” And I’m having to remind them like, “Hey, this is the fourth year in a row we’ve had this conversation. We’ve hit all the other four years. Well, we’ll make it happen. Yes, it’s big, but we’re going to go make it happen because that’s just what we do as an organisation.”

And so the stress is always there with planning. I would say, I think about what bets we’re placing, because those are the ones that will make or break for the company in the long run, like what bets are we placing next year or maybe the year after and how does that stage us for getting to the IPO? Our goal is we want to be a billion ARR as a business, so what bets do we place now that put us on that trajectory? It’s a long way out in the future, but decisions you make this quarter affect what your business looks like in six years. So we need to be thinking that way right now.

Mike Whitmire:

So I put more stress around the others, like bets that we’re placing and making sure they’re going to pay off in the long run.

Alex Cleanthous:

And I’m sure you’re pretty good at forecasting, being an accountant by training, accounting by childhood, accounting software company, you forecast enough, you must be pretty damn hot right now, right?

Mike Whitmire:

Well, when I was doing it, man, it was like every dollar was entered into whenever it was going to actually be spent, the forecast was shockingly accurate. And yeah, of course we have a great accounting department, great finance function, everything’s really good. I love our finance team.

Alex Cleanthous:

And so investors must love you because you’ve got the numbers tight, you’ve got the numbers locked in. And so then it’s about the dream and selling the opportunity.

Mike Whitmire:

In fact, I know them too well. I got accused of being a know-it-all when I was raising money because they’ll say, “Mike, you should do this, this, this.” And I’m like, “Well, actually the numbers are this and this and this,” and I know every metric and they’re just not used to CEOs knowing the metrics because CEOs are salespeople for the most part or engineers. And so I’m like diving deep on it and they’re like, “Mike won’t even take feedback, he’s a know-it-all.”

Alex Cleanthous:

I just know my answers.

Mike Whitmire:

Sorry, I know my business too well, I don’t know what you want from me, but whatever.

Alex Cleanthous:

But they wouldn’t be used to that because it’s hard to be across the numbers at a level of understanding that accountants would be right, but you’re an account founder.

Mike Whitmire:

I think that’s truly what it was, I remember it was specifically on the metric called churn. Churn, it’s seemingly simple, but very complicated and very theoretical and you can have philosophies around it as well. So we start just going down the freaking rabbit hole and I could tell this guy is not used to being questioned on anything or anything like that. And I’m happy to spar and debate about it and I think the dude just did not appreciate that. And so me being hard headed was the feedback that was provided to the person who gave me the introduction. But it was just another way I got along the way. Here we are. That’s fine.

Alex Cleanthous:

You’ve raised a lot over the last eight years. So what have been the biggest lessons?

Mike Whitmire:

The biggest lessons for me are relationships really, really. People talk about, I don’t know, there are a lot of the vulture capitalists like mentality and they rip you off and all this kind of stuff. The reality of the venture market is it is such a relationship-driven game that people really want to do what’s right by the founders and the entrepreneurs. There’s so many times where maybe we’re trying to make a decision where let’s say we’re going out to raise money, technically our current investors have something called pro rata rights and they could shut down a round of funding and basically make it impossible for me to raise money. Every company has this.

So if you look at the legalities of it, you’re like, “Oh, this is scary.” But when you get in the real world, none of them actually do that because then they’re not playing nice with the founder, they’re not playing nice with the investment community. And so documents get thrown away in the spirit of reputation and relationship management. And I think that’s something that’s been a big learning for me. I don’t know, it adds a lot more flexibility to conversations if you know that that’s how people think. So I’ll throw that as one thing.

Mike Whitmire:

Two is I went way too deep in the numbers way too early on. You do not need to pitch that stuff. I think there’s actually a lot of benefit to not knowing all the answers, maybe thinking somewhat ambiguous and doing a lot more arm waving than I did early on in the history of pitching. And so just more arm waving, less details, get people more excited about it and then let them ask you the questions and you can fill in the details from there. You don’t have to regurgitate everything at them proactively.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah. That’s fantastic. And is there anything which you thought was true that wasn’t? Starting out, you thought, “This is how it is,” but it’s just not like that at all?

Mike Whitmire:

It’s that, it’s the venture stuff. It really was. I was being warned with like, are you sure you want to do that? Blah blah, blah. And it’s this could happen and this could happen and this could happen.” But between my convictions of like, “We’re going public, so a lot of these clauses that we’re talking about, I don’t care about it.” There’s this concept of preferred versus common shares and a lot of it centres around when is it? So I’m like, “That’s fine, but we’re going public, so everything converts to common and I don’t really care about class of share at that point.”

And then, just in spending more time with them and getting to know them. VCs will make decisions that are not necessarily in the best interest of their firm at that exact moment because they know that making that decision in that moment is actually macro the best decision for their fund because it maintains reputation and all of that. So that’s just something really important to notice is it’s really a relationship game and to have good relationships with your VCs. And the old trope of like, “Hey, you’re marrying this person, you’re going to be with them for a while,” it’s true. Get used to working with them and make sure that it’s people, humans you really want to work with.

And that was the biggest thing that we focused on for the last round of funding. We had seven or eight term sheets and I was in a really nice position where I could basically pick and choose who I wanted involved in FloQast. And Meritech led our round, George Bischof is a partner. And George’s just gold reputation, great human being. I’m so thrilled that we get to work with him, and that’s where my head is at now. For example, we turned down higher valuations. We had term sheets at a higher valuation, but Meritech and George are just so, so gold standard reputation that they’re the ones I want to work with and we selected them as the lead.

Alex Cleanthous:

How cool. You flipped it on its head. What was it seven years ago you’re begging and now you get to choose? Fantastic work on that. I think we only have time for just one more section, and we’ll keep it concise. Your culture side of things, you’ve been named in best places to work from Inc, from Los Angeles Business Journal, and Built In LA for an accounting firm. And it’s competing against lots of others, well, it’s a software company, but it’s an accounting software company, but it’s competing against basically all the other industries. What’s your approach to culture at FloQast? Just bring hints in this conversation about you hiring accountants first and then you train them how to sell and whatever, but yeah please.

Mike Whitmire:

One of my favourite things is like, how do you get people fired up about the mission of what we’re doing, because it’s not like we’re here to save the world or anything like that. So what I have found is the easiest way to get people excited about what we’re doing is to hire people who dealt with the pain point, which is accountants. So they come in here, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, someone’s helping with this. That makes a lot of sense.” But I would say, just taking a step back, accountant or non-accountants. I was just a guy in the trenches doing work when I started FloQast, I wasn’t a manager or a director or anything like that.

So I had that in the trenches mentality, I’m also a millennial, I’m a pain in the ass millennial to manage. So when we started the company, it was basically like, “I just want to start a company that I would want to work at.” And what goes into that, every decision I make is like, “Okay, I want to work at a company that does this.” And since I’m pretty much a pain in the ass, that means most people are going to be happy with a decision we make. For example, we were talking about going permanently remote versus hybrid, versus coming back into the office and we were like, “Okay, if you’re in LA, you’re going to come back to the office. If you’re remote, you can stay remote. That’s how we’re going to approach it.”

We ran surveys with the employees. We got feedback that people in LA thought that was bullshit because they didn’t want to have to drive in. I was like, “You know what, if I were them, I would say that exact same thing, so nope, we’re going fully remote. It’s totally optional, people can choose whatever they want to do.” Their argument made perfect sense and I’m willing to listen to it and make changes based on that. That’s one thing. Second is I firmly believe in transparency and the good, the bad, the ugly, and what’s going around the company.

Mike Whitmire:

And if you tell everyone what’s up with the business, what’s going well, what are our goals, what’s not going well, where do we need to improve, and you’re brutally honest with it, that gets people very involved in what you’re doing because they know what they’re a part of. And so just transparency is key for us, it’s part of my personality as well. I just keep it real for the most part and pretty blunt about things. And so it’s easy enough for me to lead that way because it is who I am as a person.

Alex Cleanthous:

And how important is the recruitment process? Are you still involved like in every recruit or not?

Mike Whitmire:

Oh, not every recruit. No, I stopped interviewing everyone at around I think 80 or 100 employees or so at that point but I help with any key hires. I obviously do the interviewing process for directors and above, but I help with closing calls and all that stuff. And yeah, it’s about explaining the mission, getting people fired up about what we’re doing and explaining why it’s such a great opportunity, and things usually work out well from there.

Alex Cleanthous:

And one final question. You talked about having to go Toastmaster, you talked about you’re a person that was in the trenches, you talked about the grind over the years. What’s been the hardest thing for you personally as part of this, the growth because that’s significant growth? So there would be a lot of things that would have had to change. But so what’s been the biggest thing in order for you?

Mike Whitmire:

I would say it’s actually occurring right now, it’s having to let go of things. I’ve been able to be pretty in the weeds for, I think a lot longer than most people, but it is stressful and grinds me down and I need to not do that as much. So a new CMO coming in, finally hired our first CFO to help take a lot of work off my plate. I was basically CEO/COO/CFO and doing, I would say two of those jobs poorly. So by bringing in someone to help out, all those things will get done very well at this point. And so, but I have to let go and trust the team to do stuff and that’s something I’m very much working on right now is trying to do that.

So that’s a big thing that changes because when I started, literally doing everything and it’s having that control and the peace of mind that comes with the control is great, but you just have to trust. You have to trust that other people are doing things the right way. And I think that’s a transition I will forever be going through. I don’t see myself getting to an end State of Nirvana around completely trusting everything that’s going on around the organisation. So we’ll see how that scales.

Alex Cleanthous:

Look, I know that’s a hard one, especially because it’s going public, it’s going to be there and there’s something about the drive of the founders. The thing that they bring to a company. And so what are you as part of this transition, to stepping back out a bit, what do you believe that your role will then become as a founding partner like a co-founder because what do you do then? What’s your role in that?

Mike Whitmire:

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Razzak is the name of our new CFO, he started three weeks ago, he’s ramping up. I’m starting to feel more and more useless every day. And so I was thinking, “What is my job here? What do I do at FloQast?” And you set strategy and all this kind of stuff, but I was thinking about it, I’m like, “Really my job, the best thing I can do for FloQast right now is effectively be our hype man in every way possible.” This is the first time I’ve ever said this out loud that I’m the FloQast hype man now. And if you think about it, it’s for interviews like this.

The best thing I can do for FloQast is hop on this podcast, get you excited about what we’re doing, get the audience excited, explain our vision, our mission, all that stuff, and that probably has the best likelihood of something positive coming out of this effort. Raising money, speaking out to customers, prospects, our employees, recruiting, all that stuff, I’m a nonstop hype man at this point. That’s the way I think about my position now. And I’ve always been like that, but I realise, now I have the time to really look around the world and be like, “Where does FloQast need hype and where can I help with that”

And then that’s where I can start to insert myself. So maybe a weird answer, but I realise based on me as a founder, my personality, my background, my expertise and what I like to do, professional hype man for FloQast Incorporated, that’s my job.

Alex Cleanthous:

I like it. It’s like what Elon Musk does for Tesla and physics.

Mike Whitmire:

I didn’t say it. I didn’t say it.

Alex Cleanthous:

I know. I said it for you. No, no, because it’s similar. But listen, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. This has been such a great conversation and you have such a great story, and it’s so cool to hear the end result of decades of work. I think there’s so many people who just started and they think, “I’ve been doing this for two years, surely this should be done already.” And it’s really cool to see what happens if you stick with it and if you have a vision. And you’ve had a vision since you were at school. So that’s really, really cool. Just quickly, FloQast, does that provide accounting support across all countries? Are there specific countries that it can only help with? Could you just talk about that quickly?

Mike Whitmire:

Yeah. One of the beautiful things with FloQast is we’re not dependent on currencies or geographies or anything like that. So while most of our business is in the United States, the vast majority of those companies have international operations as well and have folks all across the world closing on FloQast. And then six months ago we landed in London. And so we’re selling directly into all of the EMEA and that’s going very well. So yeah, no geographical limitations at this point.

Alex Cleanthous:

So cool for Australian companies, that part’s all good as well?

Mike Whitmire:

Totally. Australia’s great. I would say, Australia’s a really great fit for us and especially the types of businesses in Australia, it’s a really good territory for us.

Alex Cleanthous:

And just to ruin your demo booking conversion rate from this podcast, what’s the rough starting price for your software? How does the pricing actually work, just for the people that just want to know?

Mike Whitmire:

It varies based on the size of your accounting team and the functionality that you’re going to look for, but I’ll say the starting point, and we work with customers with, it’s about five or six people in accounting before it really makes sense to look at FloQast, and the entry point for that’s going to be right around 20 grand at that point.

Alex Cleanthous:

Cool. And if they want to book a demo, they just go to floqast.com with a Q?

Mike Whitmire:

Yep. FloQast.

Alex Cleanthous:

F-L-O-Q-A-S-T.com.

Mike Whitmire:

Yeah. The weird spelling, because you have domain trolls who own all that stuff. And so the weird spelling came out of that, but just floqast.com. And there’ll be this little bubble on the right, our salespeople would love to chat with you. I’m sure they’ll be all over it.

Alex Cleanthous:

Fantastic. Mike, what a great chat. You’re an awesome hype man. I’m loving the-

Mike Whitmire:

Thank you.

Alex Cleanthous:

… the evolution. And I’m super excited to see where FloQast goes in the next three to five years. You’re on a very rapid trajectory right now and you’ve gotten past that first hard part, first maybe eight, nine years. Now, the next part is when you go from 1.2 billion to 50 billion.

Mike Whitmire:

We’re working on it.

Alex Cleanthous:

That’s the goal. Well, look, I’m just saying that that would be my goal. But listen, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and we’ll talk soon.

Mike Whitmire:

Yeah. Alex, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Alex Cleanthous:

Awesome.

Mike Whitmire:

Have a great rest of your day.

Alex Cleanthous:

You too.

Alex Cleanthous:

Thanks for listening to the Growth Manifesto Podcast. If you enjoy the episode, please give us a five-star rating on iTunes. For more episodes, please visit geowthmanifesto.com/podcast. And if you need help driving growth for your company, please get in touch with us at webprofits.io.

Adrian Clark

Now that you’re here…

Why not take a few minutes to see how Webprofits can help you achieve your growth aspirations?

We helped one company grow from $25M to $190M revenue in 4 years, and we work with challenger brands that want to make a serious impact in their industry and have the resources (and the will) to make it happen.

If you want a growth strategy that leads the way in your industry, find out how Webprofits can help you transform your digital marketing.

See what we can do

Awards & recognitions

Gold Site
Davey Silver
Davey Gold
Comm Gold
Viddy Awards
W3 Gold
W3 Silver

Meet Webprofits

85+ full-time marketers. Offices in Australia, USA and Singapore. Helping challenger brands drive growth since 2006.

One Team. One Brief. One Objective

Webprofits is a digital growth consultancy with fully-integrated, end-to-end, agile digital marketing teams that challenger brands can use to drive rapid growth in a complex and fragmented digital landscape.

Find out more