Assaf Rappaport, CEO at Adallom (acquired by Microsoft)
Acquired by: Microsoft, 2014
Description: Founded by cyber defense veterans,a cloud access security broker which delivers visibility, governance and protection for cloud applications.
“I really appreciate the way Nextage proactively make you do what needs to be done in terms of finance.”
How did you raise your first funds?
We raised our seed round with a presentation. We did not use a prototype. We were really negative towards raising funds from VCs, because we were under the wrong assumption that VCs are evil. We thought “they’ll take our money and bring an American CEO”. Sequoia saw through that, worked closely with us and made the funding happen. This is when we realized how finding an investor is a lot like dating – It a relationship building process.
What was your main challenge?
We always had one main goal: raising funds. The way I see it today, this is the main challenge for a startup. We raised $4.5M, then $15M and finally $30M more. On any given moment we knew what we need for the next round and what value we need to produce for that.
Doesn’t that prevent you from working on the company’s goals?
I can only speak for one startup, this one specific story. I had amazing partners so I saw my part in the company as two things – bringing the best people in and raising enough funds to pay them.
As a CEO you are so overwhelmed with decisions – in a startup nearly every decision ends up in the CEO’s desk. Ofer and Moran from Nextage are the kind of people who work hard to get everything done, including what requires the CEO’s time. I really appreciate the way Nextage proactively make you do what needs to be done in terms of finance.
What made you take Nextage in the first place?
Sequoia recommended it. We had an immediate personal connection with Ofer and Moran on the personal level. We gave them all our trust to begin with, and they have never failed us. They are an integral part of the company, real partners. An employee is someone that invests 100% of his time and effort in the company, and that’s always what we got from Nextage. Never did I call them and got an answer like “we’re in the middle of a big deal, call you later”. It wasn’t until recently that I actually took a minute to understand they have other clients but us.
When did you need them the most?
Starting out, I didn’t even understand what a company like Nextage does. Looking back I realize how crucial it was to have professionals do all the financial work for us. This was extremely important during funding rounds. Nextage function as my CFO. As far as I’m concerned I have a finance function inhouse, as Nextage is doing everything proactively and never did I have to tell them what needs to be done. They have their own corporate mailboxes, they were present in client meetings, and I’ve always introduces Ofer as “CFO”.
There’s a lot of planning to be done before raising funds. It’s a lot about looking into the future and figuring out how everything needs to look a year and half from now. Nextage helped us build the budgets behind the business model, and they were involved in decisions like “how much will it cost to develop this” and “how many people we need to hire for that”. The first question investors ask you is “what will you do with the money”, Nextage helped us craft the perfect, substantiated answers for that. Thanks to them we were always ready.
Having a partner like Nextage also helps you get answers for complicated questions like salaries and costs, as they have a huge market-benchmark, because they have full numbers for so many great companies that were built here in the last few years.
During the due diligence in funding rounds companies told us – “we have never seen such a tidy company where everything is so well structured and in place”. I myself hardly remember to keep my invoices, so the full credit for that goes to Nextage.