Lessons learnt from Fiix’s journey
Fiix has always been in a unique position. The company offers cloud-based maintenance management software—a solution that helps blue collar organizations manage physical assets and run better maintenance—in a market that has yet to be truly disrupted by cloud technology. But the enterprise asset management market where Fiix operates is a $4 billion market and growing, and the company has been at the forefront of driving digital transformation and a transition towards SaaS software.
In May 2018, Fiix raised a $12 million USD Series B round to support their mission of getting maintenance teams off pen and paper and onto software. We sat down with James Novak, CEO of Fiix to chat about the fundraising process, the lessons learned and how Peerscale helped.
Tell us more about Fiix, your role and the decision to fundraise.
I am the CEO at Fiix and I lead all aspects of the organization. I joined Fiix about four and a half years ago and we were a little over 10 people at that time. Over the past four years, we have roughly doubled our revenue and doubled our headcount each year. Today, we are just about a 100 people and we are continuing to double our business every year.
In terms of fundraising, our raise was led by the Executive Chair of the Board and co-founder, Marc Castel, with myself.
The timing of the raise was very specifically planned to capitalize on changes in the asset management industry—we saw an immediate opportunity for us to create the most value for our shareholders, stakeholders and the company. We are now putting the money to work to execute against this short-term strategy. Beyond that, we are going to invest to take advantage of the next wave of innovation in our market around predictive maintenance, IoT, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
What was the fundraising process like?
We did the raise with our existing Series A investors—this was a follow-on round. The process was relatively simple because our investors are partners in the business. We have made a concerted effort to align with them on our long-term strategy, and since the Series A, they have been interested in deploying more capital in our business as long as we are aligned and have the ability to grow.
In terms of the actual process, our VC partners along with our board set the growth strategy with the team and there was a letter of intent signed. This was followed by a diligence period in which we reviewed our business in-depth, both from technical and business perspectives, as well as governance. From the initial letter of intent to having the money in our bank was 90 days.
What are some of the lessons that you have learnt about raising and have there been any big surprises along the way?
Our first lesson was that having a good relationship with your investors paves the way for an easy raise. Oftentimes, investors in early stage companies have a number of investments spread out across several startups, which means they essentially spend one day a quarter with your business.
Our situation was different; our investment partners have been very close to the business. They have a deep understanding of how we are scaling, what we are learning, how we are failing or winning and how that has shaped our business decisions.
This approach has allowed us to keep them in the fold, which was a big driver behind an easy raise. When it came time to accelerate the business with more funding we were able to do that very quickly because they have been part of our journey instead of just getting updates.
Secondly, there was a good understanding on the part of the management team and our investors of anything that might impact our ability to scale, and we jointly tried to solution those items. Our investment partners were actively invested in understanding and solving issues like our market size, our market potential and customer feedback.
And as far as surprises are concerned, there will always be surprises, you have to leave enough room to be flexible with the process. Ultimately, because we were partnered with our investors, we were able to handle them very well together. There was nothing earth shattering or deal breaking— it just came down to understanding that leaving room for flexibility in your schedules will alleviate any surprises or at least provide you with time to deal with them.
Why did you decide to join Peerscale?
I have had a CEO membership with Peerscale for about a year now. I was looking for a peer community of tech leaders that were facing the exact same challenges that I was as a Toronto based company – issues ranging from recruitment to scaling your technology.
I also felt that I could give back and contribute positively to the tech community and that’s why I decided to join.
How has the Peerscale community helped you with the fundraising process?
Your peergroup is a great place to share ideas as you are going through the process. Having a group that is available when things are getting difficult and you need perspective can be incredibly helpful.
I certainly leaned on my group during the fundraising process to keep our priorities in check and to get a different perspective on the pressure we were facing throughout the process.
What’s next for Fiix?
We plan on doubling the company again, both from a revenue and a headcount perspective. We are deploying our Series B money in two strategic areas: the front end of the business, which includes accelerating our sales and marketing efforts, and investing in proper infrastructure across the organization. All of this is happening over the next 12 months as we grow.
Thank you for chatting with us James!