CEO and Founder of Kruze Consulting
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I run Kruze Consulting, one of the top accounting firms that works exclusively with startups. Our clients raise billions in venture capital funding every year. We know what high-growth founders need from their books, taxes, financial projections and accounting team.
Our clients span the typical “Silicon Valley” style business models and industry focuses, from SaaS to Hardware to Biotech to Crypto … well, you get the picture. As a remote-first company, with offices in several cities like Austin and NYC in addition to our California locations, we are able to take on clients anywhere in the United States.
We’ve build specific knowledge around the most important accounting issues facing VC-backed startups. Not all accounting firms understand technology, professional boards, the need to regularly raise venture capital funding, and the pressures felt by founders at high-growth companies. We do.
Founders need an accounting partner who’s done it before for technology startups. Raising venture capital funding, burning millions of dollars, hiring fearlessly while unprofitable - there are not normal, small business activities! But for VC-backed companies, this is part for the course. Your accountant needs to know how to calculate your burn rate, should know about treasury solutions so you can earn interest on your bank balance, should have attended multiple board meetings with the best VCs.
To try to help explain our expertise for various tech-businesses, we’ll dive into what to look for in an accountant for a SaaS business - we are using this as an example, as there are similar questions that a eCommerce or Biotech founder should ask for their industry. Here are some of the key items to look for in an accounting partner for your SaaS startup:
Already has SaaS clients. You don’t really want to pay your accountant to learn on the job. There are a lot of nuances to getting a SaaS company’s books and taxes done correctly - ASC 985-605: Software Revenue Recognition is just the tip of the iceberg. You don’t want to pay hour CPA hourly to figure out how to do something. That leads me to the next point:
Fixed fee pricing. Choose a CPA who understands how important it is to have visibility into your company’s cash burn. Fixed fee pricing helps provide clarity to your costs. You can see Kruze’s monthly bookkeeping pricing here, and you can estimate your startup’s tax return costs here.
Gets SaaS terminology. This is something to figure out before picking an accounting partner: if the accounting firm knows the lexicon, then you’ll know that worked with SaaS businesses before. Accounting and finance for SaaS companies is wildly different than that for a restaurant, and working with an expert in your industry will make all the difference. And if your venture capitalist asks you for a ARR growth report, you better not have to explain ARR to your CPA!
Has a SaaS Chart of Accounts. Revenue should clearly be defined as recurring v. one-off, and if you are lucky enough to get customer prepayments, the chart of accounts should have a corresponding Unearned Revenue or Deferred Revenue (Current Liability) account listed on the Balance Sheet. “COGS” has to include your direct costs associated with delivering the service - usually this is a hosting cost. But, your accountant needs to be savvy enough to ask you if some of your server costs are R&D or product development expenses. Don’t over encumber your Gross Profit with R&D expenses! CAC, LTV, and Churn should be addressed in the financial model. Our SaaS Chart of Accounts has evolved as our top clients have grown, raised hundreds of millions in venture funding and raised even more! We use this SaaS Chart of Accounts with our new clients, so they are set up for success.
Have multiple levels of review. The ideal accounting & finance dept. has three levels: Staff Accountant, Controller, then CFO. Multiple levels of review ensure accuracy, because no one is perfect. I even have my own work cross checked.
Uses best in class software. Kruze Consulting is a leader in using cloud accounting software because it saves our clients time and money. Choose a partner who knows how to use automation to reduce your workload - it’s not easy being a startup founder, and you don’t want to spend time dealing with things like running payroll or processing expense reports! Kruze has also developed in house automation through our team of developers, and this automation helps us offer recurring bookkeeping (and annual tax returns) at affordable prices.
Lots of successful exits. Large public SaaS companies regularly acquire startups. But surviving M&A due diligence is challenging, and if your books are not in order you can blow up your exit. Look for a top startup accounting firm that has regularly helped clients get acquired, because going through public company M&A due diligence is a skill - one that can dramatically increase your odds of a huge outcome for your business.
Understands the VC process. Raising funding is just part of the SaaS game, and you as a founder need to work with teams who regularly help their clients raise capital. From knowing what VCs want to see in projections to quickly turning around GAAP financials, work with a startup accounting firm that de-risks your next round.
A good working relationship. Even within the specialized world of Startup CFOs and accounting firms, you have a lot of choices. It’s OK to shop around. Expertise, resumes, and technical capability may be similar, so find someone that you feel comfortable with.
Has fun! Sure, this is a little silly, but founding and growing a company is hard. Choose to work with someone who gets that, and is there to help you through the good times and the tough ones.
And that’s just for getting the books done!
We also are tax experts - which may seem odd, as startups lose money, so why do they worry about taxes? Well, it turns out that the best tech startup accountants can help founders get federal tax credits for their unprofitable startups - including the R&D tax credit, which can help a startup actually reduce its burn rate! You can estimate your tech startup’s R&D tax credit here.
Kruze the best accounting firm for high-growth, technology companies. We GET what founders are going through, know the metrics they need to support their growth and VCs and have the experience to help make sure your team has the financial data they need.
If you want to learn more about what our customers think of Kruze, visit our customer reviews page. And reach out to us if you’d like to see if we can help your business scale!
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