- Author: Nina Hendy
- Posted: November 2, 2020
Driving Growth Through the Pandemic
By Nina Hendy
While many CFOs are facing extreme hardships as economic conditions worsen due to the Covid crisis, others are piloting their company through a strong period of growth. By Nina Hendy.
Companies that are bucking the trend and experiencing growth in the midst of a pandemic are few and far between. For many, 2020 has been a year from hell, financially speaking.
Against the backdrop of global economic hardship for so many companies, we spoke to two CFOs who stand head and shoulders above the companies doing it tough. In fact, both bucked the trend and companies have experienced growth and ambitious expansions where other CFOs are grappling with staff lay-offs amid ongoing economic doom and gloom.
Sandeep Bordia is the CFO of utility comparison website Compare and Connect, which has been in the market for a decade. And Neale Java is the CFO of digital deal-tech company thedocyard (ASX: TDY), which listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in February this year.
Both CFOs reveal that while the market conditions have been tough for many, each have navigated their respective companies through strong periods of growth.
Growing in lockdowns
Java says that lockdowns gave his company an opportunity to pause and test what functions in the business needed to change to meet the new market conditions during Covid. Not being able to establish a physical presence in London and Singapore prompted new thinking around online marketing and selling, he says.
“We had to get into online selling, which was different as it’s always been about face-to-face relationships for us. We had to shape the business to the operating environment and take an educated guess of what that looked like with the information we had to hand.”
The swift response to changing market conditions enabled the thedocyard to achieve month-on-month growth and land overseas clients despite the challenges this year presented, he says.
Bordia, who has spent more than 200 days in lockdown in Melbourne as the city battled challenging Covid-19 outbreaks, has grown Compare and Connect via mergers and acquisitions after joining the business in August last year.
He completed a $10 million capital raise in June and insists that there are investors dollars in the market if you’ve got your game plan match-ready. “Be clear on your growth plans for the investor funds, pitch your business drivers with clarity and provide clear vision for your organsiation” Bordia says
Bordia pitched investors in Canberra at the end of May, with the funds to be used for further growth and expansion, investment in technology and branding. “When Covid hit, we found that people had money to invest. Our leads haven’t stopped, and our business has been growing.”
Bordia says the company has white-labelled but wants to be the brand in front of customers moving forward, with a new launch planned in a couple of weeks. Compare and Connect is also poised to enter the New Zealand market.
Investment funds are still in the market despite economic woes if you are a growth company and you can figure out the playbook, he says.
“It’s a really exciting time to raise capital,” Java says.
Bordia’s tips when pitching for investment capital is to keep slideshow presentations short and to the point, and to clearly articulate the drivers of the business. And avoid large teams when presenting, sticking to two key personnel to ensure you stick to the key messages.
Java agrees, adding the importance of adopting a growth mindset: “Keep the simple narrative of proof-points clearly articulated, which gives an investor your growth thesis and how you’re going to go about it.”
Both agree that managing a business remotely has presented a new set of challenges due to lockdowns.
Maintaining some semblance of normality and building culture remotely hasn’t been easy, but Bordia says Friday afternoon Zoom calls with the whole team for a end-of-week social gathering and a few drinks helped immensely.
Java adds that thedocyard team was also conscious of communication while working remotely, with a focus on mental health during lockdowns. “The leaders of each of the functions within the business really set the pace as a whole, and we’d try and have conversations beyond the normal work.”
Java will spend the rest of the year steering the company through a major transition period, admitting that cash management considerations are top of mind. “I believe it’s about re-managing spend. And having the flexibility to respond to market conditions next year and the following year. We’re in a fiscal economic environment so we need to set ourselves up for next year and the year after that,” Java says.
Bordia, meanwhile, believes three or four-fold growth is achievable in the next four years, with investment in technology and brand on the cards for the coming months. He will spend the next month pre-occupied with ‘a couple of transactions’, while he will make some hard decisions moving forward. “The future is going to be understanding how we come back to work and what that looks like,” he says.