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Last updated Sep 28, 2023

A great moment to start as CFO at Airbase.

Written by Aneal Vallurupalli
4 minute read

I stepped into my new role as CFO at Airbase at an important moment — we just closed our Series B funding, bringing with it the investment capital for growth and change. As Airbase enters the next stage of its growth, I’m truly excited for what the future holds and how I can contribute to our success as a company. But, this new position is more than an opportunity to be a leader at a dynamic, fast-growing startup. It’s also a rare chance to use my finance experience to contribute to product development and sales strategy, since Airbase sells its spend management products to people exactly like me. I’m also looking forward to contributing to Airbase’s active community of finance professionals through our events series — another fabulous opportunity since finance leaders typically stay in the back office.

I joined Airbase at a pivotal time in the broader spend management market. The investor community is showing increasing interest in the sector, and point solution vendors are working to add spend management type features. We’ve even seen legacy accounting systems acquiring new companies to move into the spend management platform space. As an operator, I’m thrilled to see Airbase’s robust product features out in front of the competition — it excites me. At my last company, Mattermost, our competitors included Slack and Teams, and at Mapbox, we were up against Google Maps, but both companies found their product market fit and continue to thrive. Ultimately, what matters is how we differentiate ourselves, and it’s clear that the quality of our software separates Airbase from all other competitors.

I first met Airbase Founder and CEO, Thejo Kote, a few years ago with a former Mapbox colleague, John Bonney, who is now CFO at Airbase customer Harness. I was interested in finding a replacement for Bill.com that could keep pace with my former company’s fast-paced growth. At the time, Airbase lacked specific functionality that we needed for international payments and, ultimately, I couldn’t commit. I was, however, extremely impressed with the software itself and the speed at which the company responded to their customers’ needs and innovated accordingly.

I was also intrigued by my network’s reactions when I asked Airbase customers if they liked using it. People loved Airbase, and they shared how much their teams loved it too.

Airbase remains a leader in the quality of its software — and now, of course, the platform can process international transactions.

This is just one example of the rapid product development at Airbase, which I fully expect to accelerate following our Series B. In my experience, at this stage, all people, systems, and processes will be pushed to the limits. As a G&A leader, a big part of my responsibilities is to find a way for the company to tackle those challenges systematically, so nothing is overwhelmed. It’s our job to help everyone bring their best selves to work every day, no matter how much we’re doing. Fortunately, this is a stage I’m familiar with — at my last company, we scaled rapidly. During my time there, I led Finance, HR, Recruiting, IT, and Legal. It was a broad portfolio, and I saw that diversity as a chance to learn more and solve problems I’ve never solved before, while working in a remote-first environment with employees in 25+ countries. The more narrow scope at Airbase will give me the time I need to contribute my professional finance and accounting knowledge to all aspects of the company.

Working with actionable data is a key element in rising to the upcoming challenges.

We will build a more robust data engineering infrastructure in the near future, and the resulting data will help drive decision-making here at Airbase. That’s how I see the finance role: We provide the information that can help answer the big questions. How can we drive revenue? Where in the funnel should we be spending money? What do we invest in to retain — and delight — our customers? I look forward to working with the entire Airbase team to answer these questions.

I’d encourage all aspiring CFOs who want to play a broader role in a company’s development to start with a bit of soul-searching: What’s your superpower? What are your weaknesses? Which roles can help you get where you want to be? When you work internally in operations, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, but don’t be afraid to think outside of the proverbial box to broaden your skill set and improve. I played competitive tennis at a high level, and one big takeaway from my athletic career is that there’s no game without putting in the time and understanding what are the short- and long-term goals.

Every day at Airbase reaffirms my decision to join the company as CFO. The most positive aspects, of course, are the people and the commitment demonstrated by leadership. But behind those elements lies the overarching sense of being at exactly the right place at the right moment.

Airbase is well positioned to make an impact on the way companies think about spending money, and everything in my career to this point has prepared me for the opportunity to meet the accompanying challenges head on.


To learn more about Airbase, contact us for a product demo.

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