Coworking with David Quinn

David Quinn of Bluevine
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· 4 min read

Coworking is a weekly segment where we talk to CFOs and others in the finance space about their experiences, their companies, and the larger economy. Let us know if you are—or you know—a CFO we should interview.

David Quinn is CFO of Bluevine, a fintech company that offers online banking and financing solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses. He has more than 20 years of experience in the finance space, and is a founding member of The F Suite, an invitation-only peer community of CFOs who share best practices.

How did you come to work at Bluevine, and why did you think that the CFO role there was a fit for you?

Really what was attractive about Bluevine is: one, that the mission is very focused on small businesses. And [two], 99% of the jobs in the US are coming out of small businesses; it’s just such a hugely impactful area.

What are you hearing from Bluevine clients or from small businesses that you’re working with—what are their top concerns at the moment?

It looks like the core fundamentals of the economy are still performing really well. You’ve got this specter of recession, which depends on which measures you take. Some say we’re already in a recession, but with this level of low unemployment and low rates, we’re not exactly there yet.

So in terms of how we’re helping them, one [thing] is knowing that something is going to happen—and we do this for ourselves as well—making sure you have some flexible funding. Make sure you have venture debt for them. Make sure they have a line of credit or access to some source of funds, because they are likely going to need it here in the next three or four quarters.

So knowing your business really well is really important.

I think that’s the key, is that you have to—especially for small businesses—and for us, like, what can you do without today? At the end of the day, for us, managing cash and liquidity is super important. And having that, if you look at what could make your business fail—and this is applicable to all businesses—cash is probably the No. 1 thing. You have to be able to survive before you can thrive.

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You started a support group, a peer group for other CFOs—why is it important for CFOs and finance professionals to have peer support?

It’s so nice to have a group and people I’d say could be quite vulnerable in these areas. “I don’t have the answer, like what am I supposed to do? I don’t know.” And so you have that ability to interact with people. And it’s a really, really strong community, for getting great insight into what’s happening. And in this environment, which I think is key, is people seeing and interpreting the triggers and the signals in the same way. People are thinking about everything the same in a similar way, even across different segments of technology.

Is there something that you could never have imagined doing when you first got into the [finance] field? Is there something that’s markedly different from how you thought it might be?

It’s funny, one of the things is your ability to be a storyteller in finance. It’s something that in the beginning, I never appreciated. I thought it was just, “Hey, [here’s] this report, the numbers. We’ll give some forecast out, and people will make sense of it.” At this level, you have to have an opinion of thought: “What’s the root? What’s the story here? What does it mean?” So what I always use is kind of the “so what?” and the “now what?” And you have to put a whole story around that framework for the rest of the executives to understand.

What is something someone couldn’t learn just from your LinkedIn page that might surprise them?

There’s a one-year gap in there if you look close. So at the beginning of the financial crisis, around 2007, I just finished my executive MBA in Chicago. And I was like, “You know what? It’s just a great time to take a year off. The economy sucks,” and banking was kind of miserable back then. And the stuff I learned in that 12 months—I think I went to like 30 different countries on that trip—just an appreciation of culture, how business works around the world. That is something I still sort of go back to today.—KL

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