#FinInTech: The Power of Being a Jack of All Trades

#FinInTech is Luminari’s initiative to introduce CPAs to the startup world, and is proudly sponsored by Xero, CPA Ontario, and ConnectCPA.

Jonas Beallor, CPA, CMA is currently the COO of Fanxchange, an online marketplace offering millions of tickets to live events across North America. He’s one of the most unconventional CPAs you’ll meet, having worked in several industries including supply chain management, camp management, and consulting. In addition to the wide range of industries he has worked in, Jonas has also taken on roles across many functions. We spoke with Jonas to learn about his story, and how being adaptable has contributed to his success.

From the Ground Up

Having spent his entire adolescence playing sports and going to overnight camp, Jonas graduated University and joined Canadian Tire as a supply chain analyst hoping to join the sporting goods division.

“Back then, if you wanted to buy your first hockey skates, your first bicycle, or your first baseball glove…it was probably purchased at Canadian Tire. They had just renovated the corporate offices; the culture was impressive, and the supply chain role was a true operational role which was appealing right out of school.”

Jonas joined as a Supply Chain Analyst in Seasonal Goods, which encompasses sports equipment. However, instead of balls, he was assigned bulbs.

“When they told me that I was going to be in ‘bulbs’ business, I assumed it was lightbulbs. It was actually garden bulbs (plants).”

Two and a half years into his career at Canadian Tire, Jonas was presented with an opportunity to pursue his passion in the camp industry becoming a director of West Coast Connection located in Westchester, New York.

“I lived in Connecticut, commuted to New York every day, making $50k a year; and as much as I loved the job, I realized you can’t live in New York for under $100k a year.”

Adapting to New Roles

Upon returning to Canada, Jonas joined the risk management consulting practice of Ernst and Young. Over the next 3 years, Jonas traveled around the world as a Risk Consultant, while simultaneously completing his CMA.

Once the allure of joining Ernst and Young subsided, Jonas reflected on his career and identified his desire to be “in the action”.

“I wanted to be making business decisions that were more focused on the operations of the business. I wanted to have skin in the game”.

Jonas left Ernst and Young to take on the role of Financial Controller at TGO Consulting. This opportunity illustrated the importance of being a strong operator.

Jumping into the Startup World

After a call from a recruiter, Jonas decided to join Berkeley Payment Solutions, which specialized in prepaid solutions for employee and consumer incentive programs. For the next 4 years, Jonas led the finance and operations teams through tremendous growth which included launching partnerships with 2 of Canada’s largest financial institutions, an office move, and growing the team from 7 people to over 25.

“I think this is where I truly developed into the person I am today.”

Jonas had the opportunity of meeting the founders of Fanxchange Limited (Brandon Koffler and Shawn Brookes), an online marketplace for sports, concert, and theatre tickets. Hired as the head of finance and operations, Jonas later became the COO.

‘Jack of all Trades, expert of none’ is how Jonas best describes himself.

“Startups don’t have the ability to have a Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and so forth. Being knowledgeable in all of these areas helps founders scale their businesses responsibly.”

Jonas’ Top Three Challenges of Managing People in a Startup

  1. Motivating people to be acceptant of change.
    “When you enter a company and there’s a group of people already there, the challenge is helping them understand the need for change.”
  2. Professionalizing the business.
    “Finding the right balance of maintaining the ‘Startup’ culture and professionalizing the business with necessary policies can be a challenge.”
  3. Roles and Responsibilities.
    “As the business grows, roles and responsibilities will change. Employees need to welcome new voices while management needs to support new ideas and new approaches to getting things done.”

Advice for Those Thinking of Entering the Startup World

For CPAs looking to jump into the startup world, Jonas noted two important things to keep in mind.

  1. While interviewing, make sure you assess the working relationship of the Founders.
    “If the relationship is not strong, you are going to constantly find yourself between them, which is a very difficult position to be in.”
  2. You need to really enjoy rolling up your sleeves.
    If you’re going to make a career in the startup world, you need to want to do more than just prepare financial statements. You need to find ways to add value beyond financial reporting on a daily basis. In early stage startups, the financial statements are pretty basic. What’s more important is being able to apply your skills to helping the company acquire customers, increase margins, drive sales, curb spend, read contracts and support HR initiatives”.

Jonas will be sharing even more of his experiences and insights at our #FinInTech Speaker Series event tomorrow (May 30)! Come meet him in person, network with other CPAs, and enjoy the food & drinks. As a bonus, it will also count towards your CPD hours. Sign up for free here!

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