A key appointment to support the strategic growth agenda of an early stage, fully commercialised, high growth Fintech SaaS business.



e-bate is a fast growing and innovative Private Equity backed SaaS business who have developed a unique rebate management solution for decision makers who need to implement and gain control of their rebate process. Their web-based platform enables client users to quickly and efficiently manage complex rebate programmes, drive informed decisions, optimise profit margins and improve customer relationships. The platform provides real time, precise rebate calculations and a full end-to-end contract that can be entirely customised and integrated with in-house finance systems to fully automate the rebate process.


Over the last 2 years, the business has grown rapidly to over 36 staff located at its headquarters in Leicester. Fully commercialised with a firm focus on four UK target verticals that process a combined value of £30bn annually in rebates – Construction, Food & Drink, Pharmaceutical and Automotive – the business is poised for an exciting period of rapid and sustained growth as it continues to build out its user base and solidify key relationships with partners across their target markets including Norbrook, Savers, Bridgestone, Superdrug, Etex, ATS Euromaster and Superdrug.


Alongside their commercial progress, the business has also reached a key stage of its platform development and supporting infrastructure, investing heavily into product engineering. This resulted in the need to strengthen the SLT and appoint a commercially savvy and technically strong Chief Operating Officer to take ownership of both Engineering & Product operations and drive the execution of product, architecture and engineering roadmaps to facilitate commercial scale and deliver a product that is driven by customer needs.


Given the emphasis on product/engineering transformational change against a backdrop of commercialisation and growth, it was agreed that the incoming Chief Operating Officer would be required to exhibit core technical competencies and capabilities in driving product excellence, strategy, and customer and user experience. It was deemed essential that the individual would have a strong product and engineering background in order to provide technical subject matter expertise to both the board and a high quality Senior Management Team and play a key role in driving the operational strategy and manage scale-up activities to accelerate growth. This would entail taking ownership and accountability for understanding customers and the market and guiding products from conception to production, including all aspects of research, design, prototyping and software development and delivery.


In addition to these technical competencies, it was equally important to identify individuals who had taken a business from early stage to growth and could demonstrate a strong grasp of the technical issues and challenges associated with the transition from venture to scale and growth and could further demonstrate their ability in effectively navigating and challenging the status quo, making informed decisions and proposing ideas and/or strategies that aligned to a growth strategy.


And finally, given the transformative nature of the business, it was imperative that the incoming COO possessed strong leadership capabilities underpinned with high emotional intelligence to effectively lead people on delivering the product operations strategy through the distribution of clear instructions, goals and objectives.  Parallel to this was the need to identify individuals that possessed strong and robust communication skills at all levels and included experience of effectively managing technical teams, operations, support and board members, demonstrating experience in representing the product at board level and investor meetings and had ideally participated in previous fund raises.


e-bate indicated it was interested in evaluating contextually relevant candidates from a wide range of business-to-business (B2B) SaaS ventures with a preference for Fintech experience, although this was superseded by ensuring candidates had the right mix of product/engineering operations and strategy experience. We focused our research on identifying a range of early stage (seed/venture), Pre Series A businesses across the Fintech and broader B2B SaaS space that had gone through a similar funding/growth trajectory plan aligned with transforming and professionalising the business. It was agreed that the role could be positioned as ‘hybrid’ which opened up the geographies with businesses being targeted in the Midlands and corridor south to London. We then refined our search to identify appropriately qualified technical operations and/or product focused executive leaders including COOs, CPTOs, CPOs and CTOs. From this data, we were able to identify approximately 40 target candidates. During the engagement stage, the key was to identify an executive who demonstrated a sound understanding of the challenges facing accelerated growth underlined with strong technical operational leadership and definitive experience in driving transformation whilst continuing to maintain high levels of customer service.


Following an extensive search, we presented a strong shortlist of four candidates all with experience in driving and optimising both the technical and product teams, driving the operational strategy and managing scale-up activities to accelerate growth. Candidate 1 was a CEO/COO with a strong track record of designing and executing effective product delivery strategies, vision & roadmaps for SaaS start-ups and SMEs. Candidate 2 was a CPTO with extensive experience of working throughout the whole of the business Operations; Development, Product creation, Transformation, Maintenance and Service for SaaS start-ups, SMEs and telecommunications. Candidate 3 was a CPTO with very strong engineering and product leadership experience with a substantial start-up to scale-up background. Candidate 4 was an experienced COO, CTO and CPTO with extensive experience of managing high performance, product and services engineering teams including considerable experience in driving growth in start-up and scale-ups SaaS businesses. All four candidates had extensive PE experience but varying degrees of exposure to fund raising.


Client interviews identified strong interest in two of the four that went through to second and third round interviews. The third round panel interview process with the board provided exceptional feedback on both candidates with very little to distinguish between the two. Nonetheless, one individual caught their attention due to their highly engaging and collaborative leadership style underlined by their strong technical engineering and product development background; managing and scaling technical operations and importantly, their previous board experience and fund raising participation.


The appointed candidate was a very experienced COO/CPTO and operational leader with a proven track record of driving the delivery of complex technology-based projects that combine creativity, cutting edge technology and innovation. They brought with them a strong technology background which added much needed bench strength to the board along with a successful track record in fund raising and importantly, driving growth within start-up/scale-up B2B SaaS ventures.

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