With over 25 years’ financial experience, many in the Big Five accounting firms, Gene Godick has raised hundreds of millions in equity and debt financing, led over 50 M&A transactions and a $56 million initial public offering.
Clearly, he knows all there is to finance and then some. So when he set out for a second time on the path of entrepreneurship with G-Squared Partners, he created what he calls a “finance team in a box,” now being used by about 30 startups in Greater Philadelphia.
“We provide outsourced accounting, CFO, controller, VP finance services, and we provide everything from helping companies raise money to budgeting and forecasting,” Godick, who started his career at Arthur Andersen, told citybizlist’s Edwin Warfield in an interview.
Godick’s first venture came in 2006 as cofounder of Tafford Uniforms, an online retailer of nursing uniforms. His firm bought the assets of Tafford Manufacturing in an Article Nine sale and in 2012 sold Tafford to a private equity-backed strategic buyer.
REID BLYNN: My name is Reid Blynn, of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. Today, we welcome Gene Godick to our CityBizList interview. Gene Godick is CEO of G-Squared. Welcome, Gene.
GENE GODICK: I’m Gene Godick, I am the founder and CEO of G-Squared Partners. We founded the firm in 2012. It’s been a fun, four-plus years. We’re now over 30 clients and we have 19 people, as of today. G-Squared is a finance team in a box. We provide outsourced accounting, CFO, controller, VP finance services, and we provide everything from helping companies raise money to budgeting and forecasting, to closing the books, helping with getting bank financing, budgeting, strategic analysis, everything a company would need but on a part-time outsourced basis.
EDWIN WARFIELD: You have had a long career and varied experience.
GENE GODICK: I worked at Arthur Andersen in Philadelphia and I was in what was first called the small business practice, which evolved into the Enterprise Group. It was focused totally on fast growing companies, emerging growth. I worked in that group starting in 1987 and just as, the early days of venture capital in Philadelphia. During that time I worked with a number of high-flying life science companies, software companies.
After I was there about 10 years, I went to an early stage environmental company, was there for a short period of time and then wound up at KPMG. I spent nine months there working in their high-tech practice, working with companies like US Interactive, which went public, Triton, which went public, SafeGuard, which was a public company, and a company called VerticalNet, which was a venture-backed company, which I wound up being CFO of, in the middle of 1998.
My vision was that early stage companies needed high quality finance help but on a part-time basis. The idea was that you could go, we could provide high-level services on a part time basis, basically paying for what you use, but not paying for the part you did not need. Like an early stage company, they may need a high level CFO services for two, three, four, five or six hours a month. The idea was, how do you build a business around that?
When I started the business (G-Squared) in the fall of 2012, I had three key goals. One was not to write a business plan for 12 months. The second one was to figure out a way to replace my income that I used to earn at my prior job, and my third was not to hire on for a year. The first two actually turned out to be pretty easy; the third one, because demand was high, in my eleventh month I had to hire a colleague of mine who has done incredibly well since he’s joined and from there we kind of learned a lot.
One of the things I learned in my first year was that most of the work I was doing to be leveraged for someone else, and after we had a CFO and a controller, we then started getting asked for a lot of bookkeeping work. We first started outsourcing it and while it worked, it wasn’t as successful as we liked and because we didn’t get the quality of the work that we wanted back and we were spending a lot of time training some other firms’ bookkeepers.
We decided to do something different, which was instead of hiring bookkeepers, let’s hire kids, you know I call them kids, but college graduates right out of college campuses and what we soon began to realize was, there was a lot of college grads, accounting grads who had good grades and came from schools that were highly credentialed that wanted to come work and do the kind of work that we were doing, but didn’t want to work in public accounting.
The public accounting profession has kind of boxed itself in a little bit, with adding a fifth year to get licensed, so there is a group of people that are graduating with good grades from good schools that want to serve clients but don’t want to have to go to get a fifth year of school or don’t want to live in the grinding life of public accounting. We’ve kind of created this value prop for new recruits, that, hey, within about five years, if you work hard and you’re smart enough and you do all the things you need to do, you’ll have the credentials to become a controller of a venture-backed company in about five to six years.
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