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The Fractional CFO Revolution: Ilbret Andrade's Journey to Startup Excellence

In the fast-paced world of startups, the role of financial leadership extends far beyond traditional bookkeeping. At Your Cohort, we have the privilege of sitting with Ilbret Andrade, a senior finance executive. With a career dedicated to managing and optimizing finance functions, Ilbret has embraced the role of a fractional CFO, bringing her expertise to companies needing strategic financial guidance and growth acceleration.

Ilbret's journey into the fractional world was driven by her desire for new challenges and her ability to have a meaningful impact on a broader scale. Her approach to financial leadership is deeply rooted in transparency, education, and data-driven decision-making. From establishing key processes and controls to mentoring founders and continuously evolving in the ever-changing landscape of finance and technology, Ilbret's insights are invaluable to any startup looking to scale effectively.

Join us as we delve into the expertise of Ilbret Andrade, uncovering the methodologies, values, and advice that have shaped her successful career and the companies she has guided toward sustainable growth.

Tell me briefly what motivated you to become a fractional. 

I recognized my proficiency in developing and optimizing finance functions for scaling startups. While building these functions, I would reach a point that made me crave new challenges that were beyond a single company. This led me to embrace the Fractional role, where I could leverage my expertise across multiple startups while tackling a wider variety of challenges that keep me engaged, help to expand my skill set and allow me to have a meaningful impact on various startups at different stages of growth.

How do you approach the challenge of mentoring and inspiring founders, particularly in the context of financial management and growth, as a fractional leader?

I lead with open and regular communication, transparency, and education. I like to empower founders with the knowledge and tools they need to make informed decisions based on real numbers and metrics. This involves breaking down complex financial concepts so that they are digestible by those without a finance background.

Could you walk us through your approach to establishing key processes and controls that have driven growth in the companies you've worked with?

In summary, I use facts and data; I rely heavily on collaboration with management to determine the best strategic initiative and continuously measure metrics.

I lean on data-driven decision-making to guide strategic discussions with management, using financial models to project growth trajectories. I collaborate with management on strategies that will help to achieve the projected growth. Next, capital allocation decisions are made based on the projected returns on investment (ROI). I/We continuously monitor the performance metrics to ensure the capital allocation is achieving the desired results. If necessary, adjustments are made quickly, reallocating resources or pivoting strategies to maintain efficiency and alignment with the growth objectives.

How do you stay updated and continue to evolve in the ever-changing landscape of finance and technology?

I network and talk to peers a lot about new strategies and tools they are adopting. Luckily, I get targeted as a lead by many different sales personnel and tend to take the calls to learn about new technology. This has led me to implement that technology and add efficiency and accuracy to the financial reporting process. My motto is never to stop being curious and learning about new tech developments.

What methodologies do you use to assess and mitigate risks in your role as a financial executive?

I will sound like a broken record, but I point back to what story the data and metrics are telling.

Looking back, what advice would you give your younger self at the start of your financial career?

I would encourage myself not to shy away from meeting more people and engaging in conversations with diverse individuals, which leads to more learning, opportunities, and personal growth. I would tell my younger self to push far beyond my comfort zone.

What values do you bring to the founders who work with you?

In a fast-paced startup where rapid growth is often the primary focus, I redirect attention back to metrics and projections, leading to and reinforcing strategic initiatives that are executed thoughtfully and methodically. 

Why and when should a founder get a fractional CFO and why is it never too early?

It’s never too early to establish a good foundation. That foundation is something that will be with you as your company grows and becomes more complex. I have seen some founders struggle with fundraising as they try to find adequate financial information right before closing a round. Term sheets stale or get canceled because the investor does not feel good about the numbers. I advise that founders don't fall into this trap. If founders don't feel you have the right foundation established, I advise them to reach out to someone who can help. The cost of getting the right help will be drastically lower than the cost of finding out later you should have set things up properly to begin with. Inaccurate financials and data can lead to missed opportunities.

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