Last year I attended the wonderful Taste of London festival in Regents Park: for any fun-loving foodies out there, I would definitely recommend coming along this year.
As well as being a great spot to try some of the most delicious food and beverages from across the city (of which there are plenty!) it included some incredible live entertainment, hands-on masterclasses, cocktail tasting and much more.
As if that wasn’t enough to complete an incredible Friday afternoon; I also got to catch up with a candidate I placed with one of my favourite clients, Holy Moly Dips.
For those of you who haven’t heard about Holy Moly, let me give you the potted history. Founders and best pals, Gaz and Tom, were arguing one night about who makes the best guacamole. During this key debate it came to their attention that the UK was currently deprived, and in desperate need, of good quality guac. A few short weeks later they visited an avocado plant in Mexico and voila, Holy Moly Dips was born. Yum.
I first met with Founder Tom towards the end of last year to discuss with him what exactly they were looking for in a potential finance hire. They needed someone who could build out the finance function, provide commercial analysis and (perhaps most importantly) someone with a great sense of humour. The colleague coming in would be only the fourth person in the business, so it was super important to find someone with a lot of drive that believed in the brand and fit perfectly with the current team.
I placed the super cool and experienced James in this role and he took to it like a duck to water. We’ve been in contact since, but I took the chance to properly catch up with James at the Taste of London last week to find out how he is getting on…
It’s important to correctly fondle your avocados during photo shoots
Emily: So, tell me a bit about Holy Moly Dips and your role there…
James: My role? Yeah! They (Holy Moly) were using an external accountant, so my first job was to review the accounts… Get them up to scratch and eventually gradually bring the accounting function in-house. Then it was about taking ownership of it, getting it right, then hopefully adding some value going forwards with an emphasis on stock management and main source supply chains. Hopefully making the company as profitable as possible!
Emily: What are you enjoying the most so far?
James: I quite like the freedom and responsibility I get. I get to manage my own workload, decide what's going to go on and how I approach things. I can't remember what the word is - autonomy maybe? - I get to work with the owners directly and influence change in the company.
Emily: What's the biggest challenge you face?
James: I guess, it just being me! I'm the only finance person there, so it's quite difficult to bounce ideas off other people and get other people's input. I guess just making sure that everything you're producing is up to scratch.
Emily: What value do you think finance manager can add to a food startup?
James: It is difficult for an external bookkeeper to provide a depth of information that shows how the business is doing in its true light. Having a finance manager in a startup, around the people actually building the startup, affects a lot more of the operation. The voice in their ear letting them know that things are going in the right direction, the decisions being made are the right ones under the circumstances. A lot of startup companies have problems with cash flow and timing of purchases, so having a finance manager there to oversee that is a positive as well. It think it's key to have that expertise and awareness that not everybody has - it allows the team time to focus on the product and the operations.
Emily: What advice would you give another candidate that's moving from a more established business to a startup?
James: I think you need to identify with the company first. If you treat it as your own, that's the main thing. If you want that ownership along with the exposure to every side of the business within finance or accountancy, you really need to think about doing it. Even if you give it a few years, fives year, maybe six years... It'll give you more expertise and more confidence. It's a holistic experience.
If you’re looking for your very own James to come in, take control and be the finance wizard dreams are made of – give us a call or drop me an email.