Laurent Hours is the CFO of Cosmo Tech. He answered our questions from Lyon, France from where he leads the Cosmo Tech administrative team.
What attracted you to work in the technology sector?
I have always been interested in new technologies, in software, and in information systems, too – I even did a graduate degree in information systems! To me, outside of being lucky enough to strike oil in your backyard, the technology sector is the best way to add value fast, spectacularly fast, in fact. Beyond the value proposition, though, it’s a sector that challenges everyone involved every day. You are challenged to be creative, to think outside of the box, to bend and even break longstanding and unwritten rules of business, and to keep moving forward at a high pace. Finally, I’m a person who is always looking to optimize processes, and there’s nothing like new technology to help me do that.
What is a typical day like for the CFO at Cosmo Tech?
While there is never a truly ‘typical’ day at a startup, there are a couple of things that are part of my daily routine.
I usually start each day by taking a close look at our operations on the finance side of things. I check invoices, and I check the cash flow because – for a startup – managing cash is essential. I also make sure that I stay connected to the core business of Cosmo Tech by reviewing the offers, pricing, and projects underway. This involves briefings from the Sales teams in person and via conference calls, as well as working through the inevitable spreadsheets.
As I am also responsible for managing the administration team at Cosmo Tech, I also spend time each day ensuring that I am tuned in to the human resources issues at Cosmo Tech. I work with our HR team on recruitment, organisational issues, and training topics for existing staff, and I also work with our Office Manager to ensure things are running smoothly around the office.
Cosmo Tech might be growing fast but we remain a startup and the finance team is small. There are lots of basic tasks to be completed each day so I usually find myself taking on the sort of work that a Fortune 500 CFO would pass on. This keeps me connected to the business and to my small team in a way that a CFO at a big firm wouldn’t be.
One part of my day that I really enjoy is planning for the future. I have to plan our spending for the months and years ahead based on sales projections, hiring plans, and keep those projections updated on a daily basis. To do this effectively I need to be plugged in to the Sales teams, to the Executive leadership, and to the various departments within Cosmo Tech, but there’s also a little bit of ‘crystal ball’ gazing, bringing my experience in the technology sector to bear in balancing the optimism of a startup against the natural conservatism of a CFO.
You will be representing Cosmo Tech at Digital Summ’r event tomorrow – what will you be talking about?
It’s a roundtable discussion and so I can’t be sure exactly where the conversation will take us, but one of the key messages I’ll be delivering is how startups can benefit from working with partners on finance and accounting issues. Bringing on board a full finance team is an expense that most startups cannot afford and it just makes a lot more sense to connect with an outside partner or consultant for specialised issues. Not only does the startup benefit from the expert advice, it also helps with efficiency within the company and allows the startup to scale their work effectively.
At Cosmo Tech our partner has helped us a lot and they fit well with our company culture. That cultural fit is important as it makes working together far easier on both side. Like us, our partner has a strong background and foundation in the technology and startup sector, they are global, and they like to go beyond the basic level of service to really deliver the sorts of efficiencies, optimisations, and tools that we need to move forward. I think that if every startup can find themselves that sort of partner they’ll be on their way to succeeding.
I’ll also be making mention of the benefits of being a part Lyon’s dynamic startup sector. There is a lot of support in this city and in the region for young technology companies and so many mentors already well-established in the community who will help and advise a smaller business. Cosmo Tech has benefited a lot from this dynamism and we enjoy taking the opportunity to give back, too.