As business took off for the women’s personal care company Cora, leadership needed to update their financial models to keep pace with inventory management, determine COGS, and execute deferred revenue schedules
Morgen Newman and Molly Hayward founded Cora to modernize period management with natural, healthy products. By 2016 the product had caught on and they were experiencing significant growth. Like many entrepreneurs, Morgen and Molly were moving quickly and doing as much internally as possible. However, as CEO, Morgen realized he was stretching himself too thin. There were areas of the business that needed better expertise and attention than he was able to provide.
Morgen had developed finance and accounting systems and models that had served Cora well. But over time they outgrew some of the company’s accounting and inventory systems. Morgen and the Cora team found it increasingly difficult to understand inventory, maintain account accuracy, pinpoint COGS, and ultimately create deferred revenue schedules. He found himself in a bind and needed a finance and accounting team with specific experience with consumer packaged goods. However, it was too soon to bring that team in-house. Enter Propeller.
“I knew it would be premature to hire or build an internal finance or accounting team, but I also knew that it wasn't going to serve us best to do it entirely myself,” Morgen said. “I wanted a partner who could flex and scale with us, and who understood the complexities of physical goods.”
The right team
Propeller came highly recommended to Morgen, and he was confident Propeller had the chops and CPG experience he was looking for. At the outset, Propeller provided a team with the right skills and expertise to focus specifically on key areas to improve finance and accounting, as well as scale with Cora as they grew. Partner and CFO Jeff Gustafson and Senior Director of Finance Katarina Abri assembled a team that brought a wealth of experience in the health and beauty sector. As Cora grew and revenue increased, Propeller scaled with them, providing more advisory services including fundraising support.
“Because Propeller has operators who understand the fundamental elements for the category and business we're in, it means that they're a lot closer to being like internal team members. That’s why we’ve stayed with Propeller over a long period of time,” Morgen told us.
How Propeller took action
- Created a new financial model and streamlined accounting processes
- Transitioned and migrated new accounting and inventory software systems
- Adjusted inputs and reconciliation of the direct to consumer (DTC) business model
- Developed a detailed retailer revenue and COGS forecast
- Analyzed marketing KPIs and metrics and uncovered performance inefficiencies
- Educated ops team on internal improvements and advised on visionary decisions
- Transaction Advisory team provided comprehensive diligence process and created data rooms for capital raises
- Identified the need for a full-time in-house finance role and collaborated with Cora to integrate with existing systems and processes
- An improved inventory reconciliation and management process resulted in more cohesive inventory purchasing.
- Better Accounting processes established efficiencies, which improved gross margin trending and identified cost savings opportunities.
- New financial model addressed their chief challenges around inventory, managing accounts, COGS, and deferred revenue schedules
- With finance and accounting solidified, the CEO could focus on areas of the business he could impact most, resulting in accelerated growth.
- The QuickBooks Online migration expanded reporting abilities on a multiclass level and provided a more organized chart of accounts and an understanding of the overall trending of margins spent.
- During the successful raises in 2018 & 2019, due diligence revealed missing data and KPIs that were key to understanding their business and made a positive impact on the day-to-day operations.
- Business growth skyrocketed due to new systems and processes.
With better systems, processes, and models in place, Cora continues to experience rapid growth, and Propeller has been able to scale and flex to meet the evolving needs of the business. Over time, their internal finance team has successfully taken much of the finance and accounting in-house but still relies on Propeller as a trusted advisor.
“Had we not chosen Propeller, I think we would have ended up with a small, independent consultant that would have strung things together. We would have been left with a mess for someone else to come clean up a year later,” Morgen explained.
Are you a growing CPG brand that needs a more sophisticated Financial Model to support your growth?