How Privitar Scale Using Capdesk

With over 20 years of experience in the startup world, Privitar CFO Nick Pointon explains why he thinks Capdesk was crucial for enabling Privitar to grow efficiently and affordably, make a good impression on investors, and maintain healthy relationships with employees. 



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Before Capdesk, we were using what every startup I've ever worked at has used and what I imagine most startups have always used, which is spreadsheets. It's a great tool, very flexible, and you can do what you want with it; but therein lies the problem.
It's all too easy to let an error slip in, look at a data set in Excel and think it is right. Every line of code in that spreadsheet relates to an individual, likely an employee, and that employee thinks they're getting a certain amount of equity. Your system says something different. At some point you’ve got to square the circle, and those cases are embarrassing and expensive and they always come at the worst possible time.

I'm Nick Pointon, I'm CFO at Privitar. I have over 20 years’ experience in startups and I've been working at Privitar for over two years now. 

Privitar is a software company in the data privacy engineering space. We enable our customers to derive value from the secondary use of data, while remaining compliant with various regulations, including GDPR. We are in our fifth year of trading, current headcount is about 80 and growing. We've just gone through a series B fundraising, raising $40 million from Axel, amongst other investors.

The real benefit of moving onto Capdesk from such an early stage in our development, when we were only at the time in the low 30’s of employees, was that we could go in, get everything right from the start, and then now you know that no matter what you're looking at, the data is right. 

When I've come across situations before where we're fixing incorrect equity data, the issue is not so much the financial costs - because those are very hard to separate out within a larger transaction; it's more the additional aggravation and time this takes. You're going through a transaction, someone's doing due diligence all over the company's history, and you're busy enough anyway. You just don't need the additional aggravation. So if you can enter those kinds of periods knowing that at least one thing is right, then you're going to be in a much better place and much more comfortable. 

My boss, the CEO, came across Capdesk through some recommendation in his network, sent me a link and said ‘have a look at this, what do you think?’. I had a look and I thought, ‘wow!’, you know, ‘given the price point, this was something that we absolutely should have’. 

The annual subscription fee that we pay for Capdesk, or just paid at renewal, I estimate to be worth roughly four hours of a lawyer’s time. So if you think that there was let’s say one error in a spreadsheet and it took your lawyer four hours to fix it, Capdesk then pays for itself straight away from that first error. So if it's eliminating all errors, the legal fees that you will save in the long run are huge. 

Using Capdesk for the first time was quite interesting, because it's the first application of its type I'd ever used. There are certain features that we like to use a lot. Interestingly, for example, the draft feature allows you to effectively report against things before they've been firmed up; and it’s actually quite handy to do some modelling and to make sure that you've entered numbers correctly. We had been asking for new features on Capdesk, and some keep pop up every so often. So, as we grow together, I think we'll be seeing our customer experience improving all the time.

Every employee has access to see their own equity schedules. We also opened it up to all investors, so that they can see their own shareholdings and that saves a lot of time. I very often get questions from investors saying, ‘well, how many shares have I got?’. So then I simply need to remind them that they’ve got their own access to Capdesk, send them a new link to sign in, and then they’re in. They can answer their own questions, and they’re very happy.

Capdesk has helped our perception amongst our investors a great deal. I think it shows we've done this before. We're not novices at this - running businesses with a view to expanding them rapidly. The fact that we chose to move onto Capdesk at an early stage, way before we desperately needed to, demonstrated to our investors that we knew where we were heading, and it showed ambition.

On a day to day basis, Capdesk has made running our equity something that is incredibly quick to address. I maybe get two or three questions a week from investors one way or another that require me to look at Capdesk. I can log in or even better, give them a login to answer their questions quickly, accurately, and get it right the first time. 

For our last quarterly reporting to HMRC, we generated our EMI reporting from Capdesk, which had the benefit of both being absolutely accurate and also looking good. 

If you can put in the work at a time when you are not horribly busy on a transaction and get your onboarding onto a platform like Capdesk done at a calm time, the investment will save all the aggravation at a time when you can least afford it: in the middle of a transaction, five minutes to your IPO. The sooner you can get off spreadsheets and onto a tool designed to store the data that you are trying to get stored, the better. An early investment today is going to save you a lot of pain tomorrow.


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"I spend about 25% of the time I used to on equity management, not just because Capdesk is easier and quicker, but also because I know it’s up to date and reliable. It also helps our employees understand their grants and make informed decisions. Overall, I think Capdesk is a bargain, considering the value it creates by letting us focus on more pressing business tasks."

Alex Rowe
Investor Relations Manager, gohenry

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