Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Celebrate Austin Entrepreneurship Project" - vcfo

Founded in Austin, Texas in 1996, vcfo is the leader in providing outsourced solutions for the financial infrastructure, human resources and recruiting and staffing needs for companies both large and small.

Every vcfo client is assigned an onsite or virtual team of professionals that will fulfill the client’s current needs as well as plan flexible strategies to maximize business growth.

vcfo was established in under the name virtualcfo™ --Virtual Chief Financial Officer. The original idea was to provide part-time strategic financial support to companies that needed it but could not yet afford to add a CFO to their staff.

Timing was good for the idea in Austin with numerous small technology companies receiving early stage first rounds of capital. virtualcfo™ was well received by both the early stage and established businesses (and the venture capital and banking communities), allowing the young company to experience rapid growth. The company has since shortened its name to vcfo and expanded its base by adding offices in Dallas, Denver and Seattle.

The company also expanded its product line adding an HR Solutions service line in 2006 (now called vhr) and a recruiting and permanent placement group with the 2007 acquisition of Start up Staffing (now called vrecruiting).

Co-founder and CEO, Ellen Wood, was an experienced CFO who had worked for a local telecom company when she launched vcfo. The leap took her from accountant to entrepreneur, and she has never looked back. The company now employs close to 100 people in four cities and has served over 900 clients over the years. Ellen and the vcfo team have been an important part of the growth of several entrepreneurial growth companies, helping these businesses and their management teams tackle a varitey of complex issues.

Ellen feels strongly about the Austin community as a great place to run a business and raise a family (she is a graduate of both Anderson High School and The University of Texas at Austin - her son also graduated from Anderson High School). She has witnessed much of the ups and downs of the Austin economy and has weathered the storms as both a business owner and a trusted advisor.

I asked Ellen the following questions about Austin, the economy and entrepreneurship:

1. What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? Wow – so many things I love about being an entrepreneur. I guess being able to respond to market requirements with what I think is the right solution and seeing it make it or fail on it’s merits. I love the opportunity to meet with other entrepreneurs and hear their ideas and enthusiasm and share experiences with them that I hope are helpful to them.

2. What makes Austin a great town to grow a business? Austin is an open town – open to new people, open to new ideas, open to new ways of doing things. I love that. There is a lot of great talent here and many folks willing to engage and advise new entrepreneurs.

3. What advice would you give entrepreneurs in today's economic climate? Do not overextend yourself right now no matter how great your idea is. This is not the year to build your business on your credit cards. Profitability and positive cash flow are key to your ability to live and grow another day.

vcfo is a great example of a home-grown Austin company that continues to thrive and contribute to the spirit of entrepreneurship in our fine city.

Have A Great Day


** DISCLAIMER - I work for vcfo as the director of business development. I have been with the company for over a year - but I have known and respected the company and the management team for nearly a decade. I had considered not writing about vcfo because some might see this as a conflict of interest -- However, it is my blog and I decided as long as I disclosed that I report directly to the CEO, that I could (and should) write about a local company that I believe should be celebrated in this project.

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