Following an $11 million Series A funding, new salon and spa platform-as-a-service (PaaS) company Boulevard announced Tuesday the appointment of Greg Wookey as its first CFO. In the role, Wookey will oversee finance, accounting, corporate development, financial planning & analysis (FP&A) functions, as well as lead Boulevard's payments business unit.
A finance industry veteran of more than 30 years, Wookey's appointment is part of an effort to capitalize on Boulevard's momentum in the market; the company is processing more than $100 million in customer payments for premium salons and spas.
"My role [at Boulevard], if you think of it like building a house, is to make sure the foundation is properly set, and can support what we build on top of it," Wookey told CFO Dive Thursday.
Boulevard Co-founder and CEO Matt Danna in a statement called Wookey "one of the industry's foremost experts on payments-enabled vertical SaaS." He said Wookey will be instrumental in ensuring the company deploys its capital "against the most strategic and highest ROI opportunities."
"Boulevard provides a platform for salon owners to run their business very efficiently, and allows them to spend time on customer-facing activity,” Wookey said. “To the extent that [Boulevard] can build a platform to help them with appointments, reporting and handling customer issues like buying products and scheduling services, we want to assist them in doing that seamlessly, and we’ll be adding more integrated services along the way.
"The main idea is allowing salon owners and stylists to really focus on their clientele, and [know] the back office functions are handled really well, in part by us," he said.
The most exciting part about joining Boulevard, Wookey said, is its newness. The other companies he’s worked at "have been more mature, with some amount of infrastructure in place." The ability to build things without having to undo prior setups excites him, he said.
Looking ahead, "the number of tools at our disposal to run finance and accounting has increased tremendously," Wookey said. "These tools let us give less time to the minutiae and more time thinking of how we can support the company’s growth in terms of capital raises, hiring plans and issues around product development and what products we put on our roadmap."
Wookey said the CFO role has become more pronounced within these issues, and is no longer "just reporting the numbers and doing the forecasts."
"My role has become increasingly operational," he said. "Now, I’m actually helping our sales team try to close deals by helping explain things like merchant rates. I don’t think, in the past, a CFO would be quite as involved in those processes. The tools at our disposal has allowed us to spend time in those areas."
At present, Boulevard does not employ a COO; Wookey says the management team shares the duties that would fall under a traditional COO role.
"My last company had a COO, and it was confusing, because we didn’t really know who was responsible for what," he said. "The COO kind of cuts across everybody. ... I don’t think a COO role works really well in a business like ours."
Going forward, Wookey’s ideal method of running Boulevard will be by hiring people he can rely on, and being a hands-off manager. "If I can hire people I know are really good at what they do, and I don’t having to watch over them, that lets me spend my time on more strategic and higher value things."
Wookey says Boulevard is "building a culture of trust, [wherein] we know we can get the job done. The people supposed to focus on strategic direction are able to do so. I think you’ll find that everybody agrees how important that is in building an organization."