When Scott Orn joined Kruze Consulting as the COO, he was just the third employee on payroll. Fast forward seven years, and now Kruze has ballooned to a 135 person team, managing over 650 clients. While much of Kruze’s story is one of growth and adaptability, this growth did not come easy.
For most startups early on, hiring is a huge priority. But the complexity of hiring increases tenfold when you need to recruit for adaptability and flexibility. And without a dedicated CFO or finance team for the majority of Scott’s time at Kruze, he needed to get comfortable with juggling a bevy of responsibilities while this hiring played out.
Along the way, Scott learned some key strategic lessons that made him a better leader, and Kruze a more successful company.
We’ve condensed some of the major themes from our recent conversation with Scott on the FinOps Today podcast and summarized them below. But to get a full picture of Scott’s story at Kruze, be sure to check out episode 4, available on all major podcast streaming platforms. Here’s some of what you’ll hear about in this episode:
What Scott thinks is the most important thing for a founder to do correctly
“The single most important thing that a founder can do correctly is be organized. That allows them to make decisions quickly and confidently and also convey that confidence to the board. If you think about it, a founder has many constituents. They have the employees, the investors, and the customers. So you're juggling, right? There's three different constituencies that you're trying to keep happy. And so by being organized, you actually get rid of all the clutter in your head, in your day, and you can make clear decisions.”
On how Kruze used to consistently value clients ahead of his own teams’ needs
“There's an old saying that the cobbler has the ugly shoes, meaning you always prioritize your clients ahead of your own systems. And so we were totally guilty of that probably our first five or six years. Vanessa and I used to do all the accounting and finance and tax compliance and all kind of stuff. And then we got big enough where for us, it became an amazing luxury to actually hire a CFO and controller internally.”
On why legacy cards aren’t the right fit for founders
“It's so difficult with some of the legacy credit card companies. And sometimes people want to use them because of points, but those systems are old. They're not built with a startup in mind. They're not built with a startup accounting firm in mind. We have to access 600 different clients, right? In those legacy client portals and legacy integrations…the support is horrible. Those are all things that get in our way that make it difficult for us to help the founders have the best information and make the best decisions.”
Why Scott thinks you shouldn’t manage your company on a day-to-day basis
“Don't manage your company on a day-to-day or week-to-week or even month-to-month basis based on what the market's doing. Otherwise you'll whip the whole company and you won't invest in things you need to invest in. But just check the rear view mirror every once in a while. If you're a startup founder and you're driving, just check what the NASDAQ is doing. And if things aren't kind of getting a little bit better in the next two months or so, then start thinking about how to extend your runway. ‘Do I do venture debt? Do I invest a little bit less in what I'm doing?’ Just be smart about it.”
The full transcript is available here.
About Scott Orn
Scott runs Operations at Kruze Consulting, a fast-growing Startup CFO Consulting firm that works with over 650 startup clients. Kruze is based in San Francisco with clients in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York and all over the United States. In addition to his Operations responsibilities, Scott runs the Venture Debt Consulting practice at Kruze. In his spare time, Scott publishes the Founders & Friends Podcast, which interviews Startup CEO’s, Investors and Other Service Providers in the Startup Ecosystem.
Before Kruze Consulting, Scott was a Partner at Lighthouse Capital, a private debt fund that lends to startups. In addition, Scott ran Community Products at Callisto Media. Scott still manages his portfolio on behalf of Lighthouse. Some of his high-profile deals include Angie’s List, UpWork, J Hilburn, Serena & Lily and Impossible Foods. He’s led 20+ deals and invested over $100M+ with $0 losses and a mid-teen’s % IRR.
In his spare time, Scott co-founded Ben’s Friends, an Internet patient support community for people with rare diseases. Ben’s Friends is a 501C3 non-profit and has become one of the largest rare disease support communities on the Internet with 120,000 uniques last month (a 20% increase month over month).
Prior to joining Lighthouse, Scott spent three years in Technology Mergers & Acquisitions at Hambrecht & Quist which was later acquired by JPMorgan Chase. Scott has an MBA from Kellogg, and an undergraduate business degree from CAL Berkeley. He also has a CFA and has passed the Series 7.