Welcome Dave Wieseneck, VP Finance at Demostack, to The Headcount People podcast! Dave is a superstar when it comes to helping startups grow quickly and efficiently. He is a wizard with spreadsheets, but knows that tools and automation are the key to productivity and efficiency. We talk about the headcount planning process at Demostack, how they're approaching new investments in the 'new normal' of today, and when to move from manual work to a tool.

Chapter List

00:00 - Cold open
01:57 - Meet David Wieseneck
05:47 - What has changed for you and your CEO since the SVB collapse?
07:10 - Can you unpack what capital preservation means?
08:56 - Do you have a framework for evaluating ROI of an investment?
11:22 - What is your spend management approach in this new normal?
13:02 - How are you thinking about headcount at Demostack?
15:04 - What is your headcount planning process?
20:48 - Are you tracking all of your headcount planning and management in spreadsheets?
23:21 - How would you rate your current headcount process?
24:54 - When is the right time to transition from spreadsheets to a headcount management tool?
27:02 - How do you account for employee actions and changes?
28:41 - How should people think about budget variance? Especially around headcount?
30:16 - How often are you running your variance analysis?
31:51 - What headcount metrics should companies be tracking?
33:12 - How should HR and talent leaders work with their Finance partners?
35:13 - What is your outlook for the rest of the year? How are you informing your outlook?

David Wieseneck: [00:00:00] in finance. You see all the cards, you see all the spreadsheet, and so I think for, for a big part of it is having those conversations, connecting those dots, and making sure that the, the, the organization is growing in different parts of the organization at the right times

Tushar Makhija: hello everybody. This is Headcount People episode six, and today we are with my good friend Dave Weissach from Demo Stack. Hi.

David Wieseneck: Hey, how's it going?

New York, like, , it's, it's, honestly, it's getting nice and warm. It's, it's still a little cold, but it's getting warmer every day and Spring is here, so I'm happy man. Spring is

Tushar Makhija: here. Can, can, I think, I think in today's episode we are gonna really focus on. Is spring really here back for US startups is, uh, is the financial situation back in spring.

Um, but you know, before we get started about talking about spend, management headcount and all the cool things that you've done [00:01:00] in, in your life as a leader of finance for, I would say largely startups. Uh, and now, uh, at demos stack, why don't we start with a quick introduction. Hello,

David Wieseneck: I'm Dave. Sure. Sure. So, uh, David Weenk, I.

Now worked at multiple startups, um, uh, first, uh, uh, way long ago ago. Pricewaterhouse Cooper as as an auditor, uh, then for a company called O L X, where I was the right hand for A C F O and kind of did everything finance and accounting related. Uh, worked for a company called Let Go, which was a, uh, classified mobile marketplace.

Um mm-hmm . And now I work here at Demo Stack and where a B2B. A company that sells to sales and marketing departments, um, as a demo replacement software. Um, so been in this space for now over 10 years working at various startups, um, and really working on everything, accounting, [00:02:00] finance, and legal related, and of course a little bit of people, uh, ops as well.

So fun.

Tushar Makhija: Fun stuff. Um, I, I, for the listeners I would like to say is that, um, Dave is one of our first guests, uh, on this podcast who actually is working in this series a series B startup world, and has always worked and joined as. One of the first or the earliest members of the finance team and actually has built up the financial operations of a startup.

Um, and specifically at Demos Stack, uh, you joined right before Series A and were instrumental in getting, set us up, set the company up for their Series

David Wieseneck: B as well. Yeah, I joined right after the series A and, and helped raise the series B. But I think, I think to your point there, I've, um, my kind of forte is really joining early and building a finance department from scratch, building accounting, finance, legal, all from scratch, um, putting in all the systems, [00:03:00] building out the team and helping the company scale.

Of course, once it gets to a certain size, that's not really where I play. Great. Happy to kind of move on to, to the next thing, but that's really my, my.

Tushar Makhija: Yeah, series a. Good. So you, you helped the company set their foundation and get them on this path of growth. And then sometimes you can enjoy from the sidelines, right?

The equity is only growing, so a smart move. Um, I think this is also going to be very interesting, uh, again, for the listeners because I have known Dave, uh, at least from four years now, and I would say that I find Dave to be very opinionated, which is actually good as a finance leader. You are driving a lot of good processes and good decisions at a company that is moving really, really fast, which may not be thinking about finance.

So I think today's conversation is gonna be really interesting, uh, for not just, uh, seasoned startups or startups post series B, but for all the [00:04:00] early stage startups who are actually now in this new environment of. You know, not being able to spend all the money in the world and, uh, have to go and build good processes and good, uh, and I have to actually get involved in finance much sooner than later. ,

David Wieseneck: I think you hit it right on the, on, on the mark. I really like to build in good financial hygiene into the business. Good processes, um, good systems. Um, it has a lasting impact. Um, and because we do it early, it has an oversized impact, I'd say, on the business then kind of waiting and having to do a lot of cleanup later.

So that's, that's how I kind of view things.

Tushar Makhija: Awesome. So, because we are right. We are recording this episode in the month in which we have the S V B collapse and also, um, you know, the general macro mood seems to be of default No. Rather than default. Yes. How have you adjusted, uh, [00:05:00] or what has changed for you and your c e O at

David Wieseneck: demos?

Yeah, I think the la first of all, the last two weeks have been, uh, all hands on deck and a little bit of a whirlwind. Um, for us, first and foremost, I think we've all, we've been in a capital preservation mode for a while now, obviously with mm-hmm. interest rates being high and, um, and, uh, VC investment kind of being at an all-time low.

Um, we're, we've been in a capital preservation mode. That didn't necessarily mean treasury, and I think treasury and, and the terminology and all the, the processes that go into it are very much coming back in vogue. I think we're all taking a lot of, uh, we're taking a lot more precautions when it comes to banking and treasury and having a keen eye on.

On actual capital preservation. Literally our deposits, not just our burn rate. So that's been kind of a, uh, the talk of the town over the past two weeks. Um, we're all [00:06:00] setting up, uh, additional bank accounts, um, and additional security protocols, um, to make sure that there's no fraud and things like that all around our, our, our church

Tushar Makhija: function.

Can you unpack what capital preservation also means and how, what are some of the decisions that in this new world you.

Not making or have completely punted this out, multiple quarters out. What, what are you spending money on and what are you not spending money on?

David Wieseneck: For sure. So I think, I think in a big way we're cutting back on things that are not, don't have a clear r o ROI or a specific need. For example, I think in, in the past, we would've bought software with the expectation that we'll grow into it.

Or, uh, with the expectation that, you know, people will use it. I think now we're taking a, a really hard look at kind of all of our software needs, um, all of our consultant needs, um, and making sure there's clear line to value on certain things. I, I [00:07:00] also think when it comes to software, um, you, you buy software, you deploy it, um, and you expect everybody to use it, even if it's not fully utiliz.

Um, you know, you're still getting some value from. And what I tell my team is it's not just the cost that, you know, the cost on the, on the purchase order, but also the time and effort that's going into it and the risk that's going into it. There is a cost to software that goes beyond the purchase order.

And so I really push back on the team now to really think, do we need the software? Is it going to have a large r o roi? And a clear ROI and a quick time to value because if it's gonna take too long or we're not gonna see it, I wanna hold off on making that purchase, um, until we have that clear need, uh, in the future.

Tushar Makhija: That, and that's very important. And I think, uh, this applies not just to other finance leaders listening in, but also other companies that may [00:08:00] be selling to finance leaders is like, is there a framework that you can share on how you are evaluating roi? Um, And how should someone present OWA to a CFO making a purchase?


David Wieseneck: I, I think how, you know, part of the decision making is how quickly can we get up and running? Um, what is kind of the total cost of ownership? Emett? Am I gonna have to dedicate, you know, someone's. 40% of their job and their time to administering this, this, uh, product, or really is it, you know, much smaller kind of administration needs.

Um, are we gonna be able to quickly deploy it to all of the relevant stakeholders or is it gonna be a long deployment and only a few people are gonna use it? Um, is it going to increase revenue quickly or decrease costs quickly, um, you know, elsewhere? And how can we prove out that it's going to do the things that it says, not just say, we think it's going to do this, we hope, [00:09:00] but rather can we prove it out that it's gonna happen, um, and that it's gonna happen quickly.

I think that's, that's usually the framework that I use. I don't think there's any one specific framework. It's really about asking question. Making sure there truly is a need before making that, that, that dive in. All right, so if

Tushar Makhija: I summarize this, it's not just about, um, what the software can do in the long term, but what the software can do today, a direct line of site into either increasing revenue or, uh, reducing costs.

And then most importantly, The onboarding and the continuous administration, how easy or how difficult it's going to be, especially if it is gonna take man hours off an already smaller team. I, I think that's, um, I, I think save money or increase revenue. See was the obvious way, but I, obvious thing to think about, but I think I really like how you mentioned that, Hey, uh, [00:10:00] as sellers and we should also start thinking about how quickly can we onboard you and what is the continuous support that the companies can provide.

So that's, that's really good insight. Thank you. I wanna now start talking a little bit more about growth. There is, there is still a plan. Um, there, I'm, I'm assuming that the board has still suggested there is a certain growth that is expected out of a company, and in order to support that growth, you have to spend money. Um, how has your approach at demos stack to, you know, more generally spend management adjusted to this new normal where you have to grow, but you also have to

David Wieseneck: reserve capital?

Yeah. I think the difference is is um, you know, last year or year ago, kind of before interest rates started to increase, it was really kind of this terminology that you've heard a lot growth at all costs. Right? And what that meant is, you know, even before you're at the place where it makes sense. [00:11:00] Hiring well ahead of the need, um, putting in processes and systems with the expectation that you'll be at a certain place, let's say six months from now.

I think the, the kind of, now it's more about sustainable growth, which just means, um, waiting until the moment where you are. Have the capacity to hire an additional person or have the capacity to invest a little bit further. Just not getting too far out of front of your skis, kind of waiting until you need to, and then taking that, you know, that decision to hire or to spend the money, um, on that additional investment.

It's just really about being smart about your growth. Um, making sure that it's profitable growth and that it's accretive growth as opposed to kind of just expecting that you'll grow into it, um, if you, if you make that investment.

Tushar Makhija: Um, okay, now let's pivot into the topic of the day and the topic of the podcast, which is headcount. Right? Um, and you know [00:12:00] it from. From an outside perspective, some folks may think, oh, I'm already small. I'm not, this year headcount is no-brainer. I'm not gonna increase headcount.

Everything is shut. Right. But I don't think that that's, that's good long-term thinking. So from your perspective, you are a growing company. How are you thinking about headcount at Demo Stack?

David Wieseneck: Yeah, I think, I think for. For us, um, we think, you know, headcount and the associated costs make up 80% of our p and l, right?

80% of our, of our operating costs. Um, so when planning and when talking about it and making strategic decisions, it's. Usually the top, the top priority, right? Um, so for us, we like to think about, you know, where are we going, um, where, what do we, what are our needs today? And do we have the right team members in the right places, [00:13:00] um, to execute on our plan?

Of course, thinking about the future. , but in, in the past we might have thought, you know, what are our needs for the next 12 months and making sure we have a good plan to get there. Now we're, we've brought that down a little bit shorter to say like, what are our needs for the next three months? Making sure we put, you know, the right resource.

Is it in the right places to execute on that? I don't think we're, we're thinking as long term as we were in the past.

Tushar Makhija: That's great. Um, but let me, let me try to unpack this a little bit more, right. Uh, if we have to. I mean, it, it seems very obvious that, you know, let's find the right people to join the team at the right time.

Uh, but. You know, the labor market is still fairly hard. Finding good talent is difficult. Despite, you know, we are hearing about all of these different layoffs and the cost of hiring the right people, the talented folk, [00:14:00] or the most experienced forces also high. So how do you go about. Planning or making those decisions.

Right. I mean, walk us through a process that you did most recently with your exec team. What were the inputs? How did you do it? What tools did you use, if any? And then how did you come down to that decision making

David Wieseneck: process? Yeah, I think, well, it depends on what, what team we're talking about, right? Mm-hmm.

Um, I think it all starts with what are you, what are you trying to accomplish and what's your capacity? Um, right now, I think we're all trying to do more with the team we have and, you know, see how we can increase capacity with the team we have and sa and save costs there. But we want to take a look and say like, what is the capacity of the team today?

Where, where are you going to be in three months? Um, and depending on the team, Um, you're making it to this decision is, you know, do we add more people to this? Do we add a different type of team member? Do we add a tool [00:15:00] that will increase the capacity of the current team that we have? I think that's the conversations that we have.

It just depends on what team you're looking for, right? So if it's the sales team, you're, you're thinking about what is our funnel, um, what are our conversion rates, and then where in that funnel do we want to add people? It could be AEs, it could be SDRs. Um, it could be, , a rev ops person to increase capacity and, and throughput.

Um, and then, and then same thing for like CSMs or sales engineers. Understanding kind of what your sales plan is and then how many sales engineers or CSMs you're going to need to deliver on those customers in, in the, in the, in the months afterwards. . Um, and then for r and d it's really about, you know, what's our capacity to deliver on whether it be, you know, new features we're servicing our current customers.

Um, and are they working on the right things at the moment? Should they be working on something slightly differently, you know, new features versus fixing bugs and, and technical debt? [00:16:00] And, and then what is their throughput? And do they have the right team to execute? I think so. You just want to have a conversation with your different team members and go deep on each department on what are the levers that you need to.

And then people are a resource that you deploy against those lovers. So sometimes you need more people, sometimes you don't. And it's just about resourcing or maneuvering people differently. Um, I think that's how we tend to have those conversations. Um, and if it is about hiring, it's understanding. Are you hiring net new?

Are you making a backfill for someone, someone, uh, who, who's leaving or who is terminated? Um, and then kind of just planning that out into your financial model in a holistic way.

Tushar Makhija: Okay.

I think now you have the framework down, like, okay, ask these questions, do this, but how would you do it in a.

David Wieseneck: It's a dance, right? It's more of an art than it is a science.

Um, I think [00:17:00] in the end of the day, you have to trust your other leaders in the organization. That they know their teams better than you do in finance, right? So, um, in finance we can. Ask the right questions in finance, we can, uh, give perspective, uh, across teams because the sales team might not know exactly what the CSM team is doing.

Who's not gonna know exactly what the r and d team is doing. We'll, we'll have exec meetings, right? But everybody's very focused on building their teams, delivering on, on their objectives, right? You might not have the same, the perspective in finance. You see all the cards, you see all the spreadsheet, and so I think for, for a big part of it is having those conversations, connecting those dots, giving a heads up that.

The one team's gonna need more capacity because you're seeing something over here in the, in the plant, um, and making sure that the, the, the [00:18:00] organization is growing in different parts of the organization at the right times, right? So course in for a sales cycle, right, you're gonna want to increase your b d r team to deliver on leads.

And then maybe a month or two later that's gonna deliver more for the AEs. So you might need to increase your AEs month, month or two later. And then increase CSMs or sales and engineerings, um, team members soon after that so they can handle the incoming load. So you need to make sure, kind of to orchestrate it across the team.

Um, But you are in finance. It's not your job to know exactly how many people are needed and what the capacity is. It's your job to ask the right questions to the leaders, um, sense check, call BS when you need to, um, push back when you need to. And I think it's really, really about asking the right questions, being very curious.

And understanding what all these people do and how they impact the business, um, [00:19:00] and, and then trusting your VPs that they're making good decisions, uh, with the best interests of, of the company at heart.

Tushar Makhija: That's great. And I, I've always heard you say not just, uh, you know, in many of our conversations that you consider yourself not just as a finance person, but as a true business partner.

So you want to be in the other leader's shoes in the organization to really understand what their challenges are and how you can be a supporter as well as, uh, enabler to get. And become, help them be successful. Um, and what I really like, she said that all of this has to be well orchestrated, right?

Because a product has to be designed in order for design. You should write a good spec. So you need a product manager. Then you dis need a designer, and then you need the engineer. And then you need BDRs, and then you need a, and then finally you need, uh, sales engineers, and then you need CSMs. So all of this flows in one way.

I'm assuming like all, um, finance people, you [00:20:00] are a spreadsheet wizard. So are we saying all of this is being tracked in a spreadsheet?

David Wieseneck: First of all, you should see my spreadsheet. Yes, it is. All my people model is all in, in a spreadsheet. We. Um, we layer in, first we start with who's on our team. Mm-hmm. , um, what are their start dates?

Who's active, who's part-time, who's terminated? Right. Where are we today? And then we layer in who have we made offers to, who's pending to be starting? We know that information. It's usually in our, you know, our at t s or we've made an offer, so we have a contract. So we layer in that information. They're starting soon.

Their cost is going to come in, and then we layer in who is active in our ats, who are we looking to? What stage are they in, right? If they're gonna, if, if, if they're in final interviews, we know they're gonna start maybe in a month or two. If we just kicked off the wreck, maybe it's gonna be three or four months before we start that person.

That [00:21:00] is a direct impact on, on cost, right? So you wanna, you know, layer those people in and, and, and bring them into the model, you know, uh, at a staggered moment. And then there's kind of recs that aren't open yet, but we wanna hire. And you, that's when you work with your team members. Hey, when do you. This role will start.

What's the right cadence to bring this in? Is it six months from now or 12 months from now? And then kind of beyond 12 months is very finger in the air, right? We use benchmarks. Mm-hmm. , we use ratios. How many AEs to BDRs, how many product to r and d use those benchmarks and you do a h more of a high level forecast beyond that.

Um, but yes, that's how, that's how everything right now is in Excel, um, with the. You know, the, um, the months that are as close to today as possible. Tho those are, you know, the, the upcoming months, those have a much higher fidelity versus one, you know, 12 months or 24 months from now, which are a little bit more figure in the air, [00:22:00] little bit more aspirational or, um, you know, higher level planning.

Tushar Makhija: Right. So let's try to, let's try to understand a little bit more about that spreadsheet process now, from your perspective. I think finance is always resourceful to connect and go find the right person to get the right data. But how, how do you think you're doing today? Or how do you imagine you would do it?

You know, in the future where this information is also pushed down to the line managers, the recruiters and the people partners who are actually helping hire or retain the talent.

David Wieseneck: Yeah, I think, I think that's one of the drawbacks of our current process is it's, and it's in Excel, right? It's living in on my computer.

You know, we have good conversations with hiring managers, the recruiters, HR kind of every like two weeks to kind of update the model with the latest information. That's manual, right? Ideally, [00:23:00] our process would be informed by the, at s automatically informed by our H R I S automatically, um, informed by, let's say the, the sub budgets of specific team members so that people could raise their hand and say, Hey, I don't need that role.

I actually need this role now. And here's, there's a difference to the budget. And then we would have more of a real-time, um, uh, you know, update. But right now it's, it's, it's very manual. Um, and I think we're doing good enough with the resources that we have, especially at, at, at our size. . But I think there's probably a lot of automation, a lot of systemization of, of this process that we can do just requires us to, you know, invest in the time and the effort to, to deploy that and find the right tool to do it, you know?

Tushar Makhija: Right. And I think this will be really helpful from your perspective, what. What would be that transitional phase? Like where in this, where in your current [00:24:00] process do you believe that you will hit a point where living inside a. Manual spreadsheet or an Excel sheet is not enough or not cutting. What, how do you think that transition would take place? Yeah,

David Wieseneck: I think, I think the right time is usually when you have two or three hands in the pot. So if, if it's one person kind of updating this, it's, it's quite easy to do. Um, but it's a little bit messy, a little bit manual. Once you have two or three people in it. Um, you'll have multiple versions of the same doc.

You have, um, uh, issues where one person updated but the other person didn't see those updates. Um, and you start to say, we need one source of truth for this. Um, so really when you have like two, three, especially four people, they're hands in the process giving different perspectives. So maybe like a recruiter.

Ahead of people and ahead of finance. Um, and then you want to start to bring in more department leaders. That's when you say, okay, [00:25:00] we need to automate and systematize this. I think Team Ohana is, is, is doing that. Um, and I think that's, that's when you wanna start to look for something like that. Um, I would say the right moment is when you're growing.

Um, and this update is taking too much of your time where you're not like thinking strategically. All you're doing is doing the updates. So usually that's when you're hiring like four to five, definitely above that people a month. Um, I would say probably around like the hundred growing to 150. And definitely once you're at like 200, that's when you really wanna start implementing a tool like, this Um, because it starts to get unwieldy in Excel and definitely unwieldy in Google Sheets for sure.

Tushar Makhija: I think you, you mentioned like four or five hiring. What about, what about the, you know, the attrition management or the changes that is [00:26:00] happening to the existing workforce, which. Level changes, salary changes, uh, employment changes.

How do you account for those? And because I mean, that's, if you're only gonna have, let's say 150 person company and you are adding 50 new people, but the other 150 may also going, may go through some change,

David Wieseneck: right. Yeah, I think, I think that's right. Yeah. So maybe it's not four or five hiring per month, but it's really about how many changes do you have per month, right?

Because if you, if you're hiring two or three people, but you have six or seven changes, right? A few attrition, some new, some, some team members that got salary raises, tracking all of that in Excel as opposed to, you know, like, Um, a true system, um, a true database is really hard, right? All of those changes, you start to have to, uh, account for those changes.

Um, maybe those changes happen in the future and you have to account for those. [00:27:00] Otherwise, your expense. Calculations are gonna be off. Um, and then, and then tracking, you know, how did we do budget versus actual is also really hard to do. Um, cuz that adds another layer of complexity on top of it. Um, so yeah, it's probably more about how many changes you have in your organization as opposed to just the growth of,

Tushar Makhija: of new head.

That's great. And I think now that you mentioned budgets and forecast, I think a natural segue and the next question that I would like to understand on your process with this is how, how important is this variance tracking? Um, and, you know, what is the level of variance that you look to keep your model?

Up to date in a way that is three, is it 3% variance? Is it 5% variance? And how should people just generally think about budget variance, especially around head. So much of the

David Wieseneck: about budget [00:28:00] variance is less. I mean, you know, cause we're, we're an early stage company, right? And I think. Um, keeping to the budget is, uh, is important, but it's not the most important thing.

I think what's most important is what is your future projection? And for us, variance analysis helps to us to inform, is our model projecting out the future? Well, right. So if we're off by more than 5%, we know there's something that we're not taking into account, which means the future is. So le it's less about how did we do and keeping a scorecard on ourselves.

It's more about is our forecast projecting reality? Because what's most important right now is our burn, right? Right. How much cash should we have today? How long is that going to last us? When do we need to raise capital again? And if our forecast on our biggest p and l line item is off? Then we have a big problem.

We're, we're gonna be overshooting ourselves. We're not, we're not thinking about the [00:29:00] future the right way. So really the variance analysis helps us to inform our model to make it better and more accurate for the future. That's how we think about things right now. That's

Tushar Makhija: awesome. And um, how do you report.

On these numbers, like how often are you running your variance analysis? Step one, step two, once you have this information, um, how are you communicating or having discussion around variance with your c e o and then also with your board, is there a template of information that you are giving into the leadership team as well as into the.


David Wieseneck: for where we are today, our, our perspective is not to overload the leadership team and the board with lots of spreadsheets of variance analysis, right? Our perspective is what are the, the key information that can help drive the business? Um, In as, as little information as possible. So right now that's [00:30:00] because we're, we're, we're very focused on, on sales and top line growth.

It's, it's very much around like, how are we doing from an AR perspective. Um, and then, you know, how are we doing from a burn perspective, not necessarily like a variance, uh, analysis against, you know, one specific line in 'em. But how are we doing from a burn perspective and how long do we have, you know, um, uh, for our.

Um, so we try to give information that's gonna help drive the, the company. Um, and then for the variance analysis more of, uh, for the finance team, um, to help us inform our model and get better. And then, yes, if there are significant line items, we wanna flag those, of course, to the, to, to the leadership team or to the board.

Um, but for the most part, it's really about how are we doing from revenue perspective and how are we doing from a burn perspective.

Tushar Makhija: Is there, what, what would be a good headcount [00:31:00] report or what would be good headcount metrics that you suggest companies should be tracking on a regular

David Wieseneck: basis? So what we like to look at is as simple as how much headcount do we have in what departments? Um, and then who have we added to the team and what type of attrition do we have to the team?

Is it regrettable, non regrettable, uh, attrition? Um, and then kind of just in what teams and where, uh, do they set? Just so we understand kind of where our teams are deployed, um, and who we're investing as, as a company. I we look at cost, of course. Um, we look at, you know, average cost for, for different headcount.

Um, but those are kind of secondary to, uh, some of the higher level stuff.

Tushar Makhija: Okay. So Dave, now let's [00:32:00] talk about how should finance leaders work? The other departments in the company, especially the people department and the talent department, um, because they interface with the hiring managers, they interface with the employees much more than you are directly interfacing.

So for all the HR leaders and the talent leaders listening on this podcast today, what are some of the ways that you think make working relationships better between finance talent and. .

David Wieseneck: Yeah. So, you know, what I always try to do is I, I try to make a really great relationship with our HR team. So, uh, connect at the hip.

Pretty much I want to be in sync with what they're working on. Um, what are the impactful decisions that they're making that are gonna impact the finances? So hiring, firing, merit cycles, performance cycles, things like that. I want to be informed of that.

At the beginning, I don't want to be surprised on the back end, [00:33:00] um, that we are, you know, promoting three people that I haven't accounted for in the forecast. So it just, it's, it's all about communication. Being on the same page, making sure that you're working with your HR leaders to, uh, plan for changes, um, and understand the budgetary impact of that before moving forward with any decisions.

Um, and I think it just comes from a level of. Really good communication and making sure that you're working together. Um, very important. Of course, if you can build systems and processes that kind of enforce that, that's even better. But I think just starting off with the good culture and good communication is the kind of the first place to start.

And then you can layer in process and systems to really enforce that and drive it into the organization for the long term. Right.

Tushar Makhija: Uh, now I'm gonna ask. A philosophical question. Right. Uh, we are recording this in March, end of [00:34:00] March, 2023. Um, what is your outlook for the rest of the year? Uh, how, and how, how are you informing your outlook?

And what would be the final parting thoughts that you would leave, um, all the listeners with who, you know, the audience is largely startups, and if this is the early stage startup audience that we are talking to, how should they be thinking about growth, about spend, and anything else that is top

David Wieseneck: of mind for you?

Yeah, I, I think so. My outlook is, um, you know, at the beginning, at the top of this call, we talked about it being spring outside, but it's not quite spring for growth stage tech companies. It's still winter out there. Um, we look at the, you know, the interest rate, um, coming from the Fed. They just raised, uh, interest rates again, 25 basis.

Nobody [00:35:00] knows if this is the, the, the end of of that and they'll kind of taper off or if they're gonna keep raising rates. So, um, it's still winter and it's gonna take some time for, uh, the market to rebound. Um, and so I would expect and plan, um, that the fundraising market is still gonna be flat. We're.

All gonna be getting additional capital into our companies. So plan for that. Um, make sure that you don't get ahead of your skis, whether it be hiring or spending decisions, um, that you plan for lower growth than what you expect. And when you start seeing higher than expected growth, then of course go out there, hire additional people, um, uh, make additional spending decisions.

But I would. Plan, uh, for that downside case. Take a look at your risks, make sure you protect against your risks. Take a look at the opportunities you have. Go ahead and capitalize on those opportunities. Just don't get ahead of your skis. [00:36:00]

Tushar Makhija: That's great advice. Thank you so much, Dave, for all the wisdom and uh, we really appreciate you joining us today.

Yeah, thanks for having me.

About the guests

Dave Wieseneck
VP Finance
Dave Wieseneck, VP Finance at Demostack, is a superstar when it comes to helping startups grow quickly and efficiently. He is currently the VP Finance at Demostack. This is his third stint as a VP Finance (previously with Ollie Pets and letgo), he's been Director of Accounting for OLX, and he started his career with PwC in the assurance practice. He is a wizard with spreadsheets, but knows that tools and automation are the key to productivity and efficiency.

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