The launch of Luminari’s #FinInTech initiative has been met with a lot of excitement, but also a ton of questions about how our learning modules work. We hope this will help! To sign up to our first learning module click here.
#FinInTech’s Mission: help early-stage startups become massively successful by providing access to the financial know-how they often lack and can’t afford.
Summary of #FinInTech Learning Modules
Our learning modules are designed to teach CPAs how to transfer their skill sets to a startup environment. These sessions are not university courses, they are practical how-to learning sessions developed and taught by authoritative industry leaders. Participants will be able to immediately apply what they’ve learned and generally feel more comfortable with the unique methodologies and lexicon used by startups.
The initial module is an introductory session familiarizing CPAs with the most important concepts and practices across the entire spectrum of running a startup. Following this module, there are several in-depth sessions focused on specific areas. Each module is two hours long and counts for two hours of verified CPD hours. Each course is taught and developed by authoritative industry leaders including start-ups CFO’s, finance execs, venture capitalists, and other subject matter experts, many of whom are CPAs themselves!
To sign up for our first learning module click here.
Vote for modules you’re interested in taking at the bottom of this article!
Individual Module Details
The following is a summary of each planned module. Specific instructors for each module to be announced with each release.
This module covers the entire breadth of start-up basics. CPAs will become familiar with the most important concepts that govern start-up life. We start with a general discussion around the culture and mentality at a startup. We then cover the following topics: startup ecosystem, business models, quantitative concepts, lean methodology, finance & operations, business plan & pitch, fundraising, projections & KPIs, hardware, IP, tech101, and equity compensation. Overall, the module focuses on highlighting the differences between the startup and corporate environment.
Special Guest: Matt Edirisinghe (Director, Supply Chain & Planning – ecobee)
Supporting Experts: Michelle Killoran (Omers Ventures), Narbe Alexandrian (Omers Ventures), Ali Kanchwala (Director, Finance – Plooto), Shubham Datta (SurePath Capital), Michelle Lau (Creative Destruction Lab).
This module goes in-depth on the entire fundraising process. It covers the following areas: fundraising & pricing strategy, timeline and expectations, building an investor pipeline, building fundraising marketing materials (projections, cap tables, etc.), investment vehicles, fundraising terms and negotiation. The session will have a detailed component on the unique investment vehicles used by startups and their investors, including the technical mechanics and how they affect future ownership in the company.
Projections and KPIs
This module goes in-depth on startup projections and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs). The projections component will cover the differences in developing projections under conditions of extreme uncertainty and without relevant historical or comparable data. Effectively tracking your KPIs is incredibly important both for scaling a business and fundraising. The KPI component will cover how to think about this process in detail, providing comparables and industry benchmarks. Most importantly, the module will cover these topics within the context of an upcoming fundraise; a perpetual reality for startups.
FinOps & Cloud Accounting
This module prepares CPAs for setting up, managing and improving a finance function at a startup. We go through the specific software and process solutions available for easy, affordable, cloud-based financial reporting, planning and analysis. The module will cover best practices in automating key aspects of an under-resourced finance function, as well as building a flexible system that can scale with fast growth.
Tech101 for CPAs
This module is a broad introduction to technology for CPAs. This includes both hard technology knowledge and insight on how development teams operate within a startup. The module will provide CPAs with a basic understanding of the applications, constraints, and characteristics of various technologies. We familiarize CPAs with the basics of the software and hardware tech stack, different types of technologies (AI/ML, Quantum, etc.), agile development processes, and more. The session prepares CPAs to work closely with and effectively support the efforts of development teams.
Venture Operations: Non-Dilutive Capital, Governance, Legals, HR, Hiring, & Admin
This module is a potpourri of several indispensable skills for CPAs working at a startup, where they will take on a multitude of tasks outside of their prior experience. This module will cover how to effectively manage these functions including: startup grants/loans, corporate governance, incorporation, shareholder management, employment law & HR, SRED, best practices around hiring, insurance, benefits, and more.
The Pitch and Business Plan
This module covers a specific aspect of the fundraising process – the pitch! But the pitch can only be developed after learning the unique way startups develop and communicate their business plan. This session will cover the business model canvas and executive summary (or 1-page business plan): a startup’s ‘resume.’ The pitch component will cover how to effectively develop and deliver a venture pitch, including: how they normally occur, what’s expected, and how to set yourself up for successfully convincing an investor to write a cheque.
Product Management: Early Stage and Post-Series A
This module will cover two distinct phases of product management: early-stage and later stage. The early stage component will focus on how to effectively utilize lean methodology to iterate towards a product design and feature set that the market desires. The later stage component will cover how more established startups continuously improve their product to make it attractive to a larger segment of the market. The module also includes best practices around managing the relationship between the development team and the sales/marketing team who understand the market needs.
Growth: User and Client Acquisition
This module will cover best practices around building a user and/or client base out of thin air. Essentially, this is a ‘sales and marketing’ module within a startup context. We cover concepts and execution tactics used by startups to ‘growth hack’ their way to traction on a tiny budget. We also get into strategic and tactical decisions around developing and scaling effective sales channels and building a reliable sales funnel.
Hardware, Manufacturing and Supply Chain
This module will cover all of the basics around dealing with hardware at a startup. Hardware products bring a plethora of complexities to a business when compared with software, including manufacturing, supply chain, inventory, working capital constraints, capital expenditures, and more. The session delves into how startups tackle these issues with very tight budgets and few employees. It will also cover the financial planning and budgeting implications of a hardware business.
This module will provide CPAs with the knowledge needed to effectively manage a startup’s intellectual property. We will not cover the legal details, but instead, focus on how a company can ensure it properly protects and maintains the value of its innovations. The session covers various methods of IP protection, how to prevent leakage, and familiarize CPAs with common missteps. For most startups, their intellectual property is exponentially more valuable than any tangible assets they have. This session will give CPAs the tools they need to successfully protect those assets.
Some Last Thoughts
We’re extremely excited to be bringing these unique modules to CPAs, and we’re so grateful to the #FinInTech community for helping us make it happen. As we release each module, we’ll put on a number of in-class sessions before digitizing the material for access across the country and across the world.
CPAs have so many of the skill sets that add value to early-stage companies. These modules are intended to unlock those capabilities to turn any CPA into a startup rockstar.