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SaaS Talk

A Conversation with Templafy

Cynthia Stephens

Chief Financial Officer, Templafy

Cynthia Stephens is the Chief Financial Officer at Templafy, where she oversees the company’s finance, accounting, legal, procurement, revenue operations and IT functions.  Cynthia’s experience spans more than two decades of financial leadership roles in technology, with a primary focus in hyper-growth organizations and companies experiencing transformative shifts in their business models.

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Cynthia Stephens CFO, Templafy - Golub Growth SaaS Talk


About Templafy

Templafy is the next gen document generation platform that automates documents to remove risk, increase efficiency, enable better document creation at any complexity and scale for over 800 organizations around the world. 

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Note: The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.


We'd love to learn more about Templafy. What are your products and what sets you apart from your competitors? 


Templafy eliminates manual document work – the work that prevents millions of knowledge workers from focusing on the work that creates the most value, which is what they were hired to do.

Although documents remain crucial for over a billion knowledge workers globally and are mandatory in most business transactions – and ultimately are where knowledge is recorded – the work that goes into creating them often comes with enormous loss of productivity, quality and speed, and also increases business risk.

We think the better option is automation, which requires less effort, creates fewer mistakes and makes more time for the work that businesses value most.

We are built around enterprise-grade security and cater to both governance and productivity needs within the document. It means we're removing risk and increasing operational efficiency for organizations, which is a crucial combination and really sets us apart from our competitors.


Tell us a little bit about you, Cynthia, and your background. What are your current responsibilities and what is your role like on a day-to-day basis? 


I've spent nearly my entire career, with a few exceptions, in technology, in both large multinational organizations as well as startups and scale-ups. I've always gravitated towards opportunities where businesses are going through some kind of transformative shift, whether it's their business model, their growth curve (whether up or down) or their industry. So I have had a lot of different experiences and have always loved tech. After my most recent experience at AWS, where I led finance for productivity applications during a time of massive growth, I was really excited to come to something earlier-stage and bring those learnings and experiences to Templafy.

We’re at an exciting time in our scale-up journey and are really excited about our ability to automate document creation and solve so many real pain points for organizations and knowledge workers. There is definitely a real need. We're growing and we've got great customers. Our growth rate has continued despite what's going on in the economy around us, so we are extremely fortunate.

My day-to-day involves finance and accounting, investor relations, fundraising, and also legal, procurement, internal IT and revenue operations. At this point in time, a lot of my time is really focused on what seems like endless forecasting, given what’s going on around us.


What is Templafy doing in the current market conditions? We've seen a lot of uncertainty in the public markets which has now trickled down to the private markets and we've seen rising interest rates. What have you and the team done over the last couple quarters to set Templafy up for success moving forward?


We’re doing a number of things. Although we're continuing to experience topline growth, we are hyper-vigilant around revenue forecasting. And we triangulate it through multiple lenses. We not only have our sales forecast, but also driver-based financial forecasts, and we really try to triangulate those together. I don't think relying on trend-based forecasting necessarily works anymore because there are so many things that are changing around us. So, we are much more focused now than we were a few years ago on what's happening with our top-of-funnel and pipeline trends in order to stay on top of any changes that we see with customer buying patterns, selling cycles and the like.

We've done a lot of work to hone in on our ideal customer profile so that we're focused with our sales efforts rather than taking a scattershot approach to customer acquisition. I'd say we're much deeper into understanding the drivers behind pipeline conversion rates than we were previously, and making any tweaks that we can to optimize how quickly leads are moving through. We are definitely staying on top of more than we were before with top-of-funnel forecasting. But, we are also really focused on keeping the customers we have. Obviously, customer retention is key, and we focus on making sure that we mitigate any root cause that might be behind any potential churn or downsell. Our expansion rates have also remained high during the downturn as well.

From a cash management perspective, because we have operations and customers in Europe and North America, we stay abreast of movements in currency markets and interest rates around the globe. We try to mitigate as much downside exposure risk as possible, which is probably more complex than most companies our size are dealing with. So, we are doing more in terms of treasury management then we would ordinarily have done in the past.

Long story short, overall we're driving the organization to be much more agile and much more data-driven in our decision-making, which has required us to prioritize investments in systems, automation and business intelligence more than we have before. Additionally, we're committed to efficient growth and maximizing ROI as much as we can in terms of utilizing our cash resources to the best of our ability.


Are there any lessons that you have learned that perhaps you didn't learn in prior downturns? Any instances where the business has surprised you in this market?


I continue to be surprised. What's been surprising to me is how fundamentally strong our economy, at least here in the U.S., has continued to be, despite Covid and supply chain issues and interest rate hikes and inflation.

There have been few similar patterns to extrapolate from, which has made it tough to be able to be predictive. I've learned to expect the unexpected. We play out more potential scenarios while planning best case, worst case, unexpected case, what could go wrong. What’s more, we try to help the organization focus on the things that we can control and try to keep some of that noise away from them because it can be distracting.

We also don't take the market for granted anymore, whether it comes to fundraising or customers. There is too much volatility. So we try to stay on top of macroeconomic trends in order to help the business as much as we can.


Templafy is backed by world-class investors like Insight Partners, Blue Cloud Ventures and several others. For you as CFO, what factors do you weigh when you're thinking about raising capital, whether it's equity or debt? As CFO, how do you ensure that you pick the right partner?


We focus a lot on our long-term capital planning as well as short-term forecasting. We've always been focused on what Templafy looks like four, five, six years out, what the major milestones will be and what we need in terms of fundraising to get there.

That informs the lens of how we look at potential fundraising options, whether it's price, valuation or amount. That has really helped us be more educated about what we're looking for in terms of fundraising and type.

What's important to us in terms of partners is working with organizations who can help us grow, bring experience that is particular to a scale-up and have experience with tech companies that are global in nature. It's a bit more complicated for us than it might be for a company that's just U.S.-based, so we lean on that expertise with our funding partners as much as possible.

In short, long-term planning has helped us focus on what we need. Without that, we’d be super reactive and would be going out to market when we don't necessarily have the best terms available to us. We are fortunate to be in good shape right now.


Given Templafy’s scale and global operations with customers all across the world, where does Templafy see opportunity? Is it still here growing in the U.S.? In other parts of Europe? What are Templafy’s thoughts on go-to-market these days?


We have so much more that we can do in the U.S. because we were founded in Denmark. Europe was our original focus area, but the U.S. is relatively new for us, and it’s growing quickly and there's tremendous potential there. I think that will continue to be a huge source of growth for us and Europe will continue to grow more steadily, so we are putting more focus on North America at this point in time.


What are you most excited about? Are there new products coming out or any new partnerships you want to highlight?


We're excited about the potential of AI – and I know everybody is saying that – but it really plays into what we do. Document generation and document automation is founded on the principles of AI, so trying to do that in a safe manner that can help mitigate risk for companies that are using it in their transformation processes is something that we're excited about.

I think it will play a critical role in these initiatives that are enterprise-wide going forward. It is exciting to be at the brink of that opportunity.

In terms of focus areas, because our platform can do so many things, our challenge has been to focus on use cases and vertical segments where we can have the most impact. You'll be seeing more from us in the near future about where we're going to focus.


We would love to hear if you have any advice for women who aspire to be CFO of a growth-stage software business.


I think it really helps to have a mentor ¬– ideally, another woman who's a successful CFO, but they don't necessarily have to come from SaaS or tech. Having that experience of someone to bounce ideas off of and be a sounding board is definitely helpful. Looking back, I wish I had had that opportunity, but I started when there weren't that many other women in the room. That's changing now and I'm happy to see that. So having a mentor is key for women who want to move into the CFO role.

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed by Cynthia Stephens herein are solely that of Cynthia Stephens and do not reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of Golub Growth. Golub Growth is not responsible for the information or views communicated by representatives of other companies. This material is not indicative of the past or future performance of any Golub Growth product and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation by Golub Growth of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Golub Growth has distributed this material for informational purposes only.