Why young technology start-ups need CA skills

By Eleanor O'Neill, Student Blog

3 July 2017

Young technology entrepreneurs are forging ahead in Europe despite a lack of financial acumen, according to a study from executive search firm DHR International.

An analysis of 70 leading technology entrepreneurs based in Europe revealed that the average age when setting up companies was just under 30 years old (29.7 years). DHR International noted that this is slightly younger than the Silicon Valley average of 31.

The study, which included the founders of PayPal, Minecraft and Spotify, also showed:

  • 14% had experience in a senior corporate role.
  • 6% were previously in private equity or investment management.
  • 4% had a background in investment banking.

However, this trend may soon be subject to change. Gert Stüerzebecher, Partner at DHR International and Head of the European Advanced Technology Practice Group, pointed out that declining valuations in the technology sector have made investors more cautious and demanding of financial expertise in start-ups.

He said: “As tech companies expand, they need to balance vision and creativity with experience in delivering shareholder value.

“Board and senior management composition is something investors are scrutinising more and more, to make sure that they can really handle the growing pains these companies experience and deliver profitability.

Tech businesses need to ensure they choose candidates for top positions who can really add value.

“A key element we find in many successful new business endeavours is a complementary team composition: Ideally combining those with a game-changing attitude and a revolutionary ambition to create growth with those who bring in clear-cut experiences in managing the growth path ahead.

“In a rapidly growing organisation, understanding where gaps in skills and experience lie is essential. Tech businesses need to ensure they choose candidates for top positions who can really add value, bringing additional dimensions and new perspectives to the table.”

The CA qualification provides a uniquely specialised and balanced range of skills and practical knowledge in business and finance that carries a global reputation for excellence. CAs are well-placed to fill the needs of a new start-up or, indeed, start their own with a distinct advantage.

Entrepreneurship is one of the key themes of the ICAS One Young CA competition. Read the stories of last year's finalists and find some inspiration for your entrepreneurial goals!


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