Business Elevated Podcast (Episode 32)
This podcast series features business and government leaders discussing what it’s like to live and work in the great state of Utah. This episode includes a conversation between Ryan Starks, managing director of Business Services at GOED, and Shane Rowley, co-founder and president of Nimbl.
Welcome to the Business Elevated Podcast, where we discuss what it’s like to live and work in the great state of Utah. Did you know Utah is frequently ranked the best state for business by Forbes? This podcast is a production of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Thanks for joining the conversation.
Ryan Starks: (00:20) Welcome to the Business Elevated podcast. I’m Ryan Starks, the managing director of Business Services at GOED. Today my guest is Shane Rowley, the co-founder, and president of Nimbl. Shane, thanks for joining me today. How are you?
Shane Rowley: (00:34) Doing well, thanks, Ryan. It’s a pleasure to join you today on this episode. Hopefully, I can be of value to all of your listeners today.
Ryan Starks: (00:41) We enjoy having great guests with us. I searched your company Nimbl, and I am blown away by the great work that you do. Why don’t you tell us just a little bit about your company? Where did you come from? Why did you decide to start Nimbl?
Shane Rowley: (00:59) Awesome questions. I’m a Utah boy through and through. I grew up in Utah for the majority of my life and absolutely love it here. I love the mountains and seasons, the people and pretty much everything that Utah has to offer. Nimbl was created with the mission of enabling entrepreneurship. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, with a family run business with my father. There are so many principles that I was fortunate to learn at a young age. As I went through my career, I realized there was this accounting aspect, the CFO aspect, a bookkeeping aspect that entrepreneurs don’t have access to. It’s not affordable for them, and it’s such a critical piece of how they can get through challenges, especially with this COVID-19 pandemic that’s going on. My business partner and I came together from our experience working with venture capital-backed companies. For over a decade, we raised money for growing businesses that offered financial services to businesses that are just starting out, and businesses that are up and running.
Nimbl really is your outsourced accounting department, but it focuses primarily on those lower-tier companies. Anywhere from the startup stage up to about $10 million. We basically come in here and take over all of those accounting things, but do it at a fraction of the price and typically less than the cost of a bookkeeper. Instead of having a CFO over here, we come in and you only need a fraction of all of those pieces. We really focus in and make sure that entrepreneurs have what they need to make the decisions they can to be successful.
Ryan Starks: (02:35) That’s a fascinating concept. What are you seeing in terms of the trend of new clients? Is this something that’s gaining a lot of traction?
Shane Rowley: (02:43) What’s most surprising to people is how affordable it really is. People think about CFO’s or controllers and accountants, and think they’re going to be spending tens of thousands of dollars. The reality is we can usually get most clients set up somewhere between $500 and $1,500 a month, which is very well in their budget.
Ryan Starks: (03:01) That’s awesome. So, where are you located?
Shane Rowley: (03:04) We’re headquartered right here in Lehi. We’ve been a global remote company from day one. We have about 50 employees worldwide, and they’re all over the country and overseas. Everything is right here in Utah, for the most part, from a headquarters standpoint.
Ryan Starks: (03:21) Wow. So of those 50 employees, do any of them speak foreign languages?
Shane Rowley: (03:25) Many of them do. Many of them are also stay-at-home moms here in the states as well. We really tapped into this beautiful market being a remote company where there are so many stay-at-home mothers who are geniuses. They’ve had wonderful careers and chose to stay at home. They would also like to have a career as well, and we’ve been able to give them that opportunity.
A lot of them come from public accounting or tax practice accounting. Now, they get to work for us for 20 to 30 hours a week. That’s a really neat market.
Ryan Starks: (04:02) It’s a great model for those stay at home moms. You’re right, we do have so much of our workforce here in Utah that really is underutilized, and we could put to work. It’s a great opportunity for those mothers and others.
What do you look for when you go to hire a new employee?
Shane Rowley: (04:20) What we look for in hiring new employees? Obviously, we look for someone that’s going to be effective in this remote environment. We look at the remote environment as the benefit. We don’t look to recreate an office culture being a remote company. We look at it as someone that wants to be in this environment, and they can be effective and efficient there.
We look at the technical skills, but it really comes down to culture. We want people to operate in integrity, share the same values and virtues, ethos and pathos that we all do. We’re all really aligned that when you work in a remote environment, it can be a lot of miscommunication. So really getting aligned from the get-go, all of those values are critical for us.
Ryan Starks: (05:00) And when was your company founded?
Shane Rowley: (05:02) That’s a great question. It’s a hodgepodge of different companies between my business partner and me over the last 10 years. We started in February 2018 and then rebranded in July of last year to Nimbl.
And the Nimbl name represents how we want companies to be in their business. We essentially take over the numbers from them. They get to focus on being Nimbl, and doing what they do best in their business.
Ryan Starks: (05:26) I love it. It seemed like a really appropriate name. Speaking of being nimble, it sounds like Nimbl has been ahead of the curve in terms of remote work and Zoom meetings, and working with clients remotely. How’s that experience been?
Shane Rowley: (05:41) For us, we haven’t seen much of a change in this pandemic we’ve been in. It’s business as usual for us. That is one of our virtues is creating the future. And part of that, you know, that virtue for us is staying at the forefront of technology. That’s really how we’ve been able to be an affordable accounting solution to all of our clients. We utilize the technology and automation that exists in the world today. We’re always testing everything that’s out there to see what works best.
Ryan Starks: (06:09) Shane, you have clients around the world. How are they responding to this economic downturn in this pandemic?
Shane Rowley: (06:17) That’s interesting. My business partner and I, in late February, early March, got on the phone and called almost every single one of our customers. We just cold-called them on the phone and asked how they were doing. We had to assume that most of them were going to respond in a negative way. How are we going to get through this? What’s going to happen? There’s so much unknown. We were pleasantly surprised that the majority of them are exercising amazing leadership within their company, their organization. They’ve been proactive. The buzzword right now is they’ve been pivoting. Creating new opportunities within their business, and it’s just been an honor to work with them. They influenced me in our leadership within our company, really just bringing everybody together. Many of the ideas that our clients are telling us that they’re doing, we’ve been able to assist and implement those same ideas with other clients. I’ve been really impressed, but there are some sad stories there as well. The retail business has been hit very hard. For about two months, they couldn’t open their doors. We’re getting them back on their feet right now.
Ryan Starks: (07:29) That’s great. And that’s really needed with small businesses being the lifeblood of America. In addition to finance and accounting services, are you able to provide any other consulting services to help these businesses through this economic storm?
Shane Rowley: (07:44) One of the things we did immediately when this hit is we really discounted our CFO services over 50% for three months. This helps small businesses that maybe couldn’t afford the service long term, but they really need help with their cash forecasting and cash flow. Just knowing what their overhead is or fixed bills compared to their variable bills. Working with them to let them know, “Hey, you can get through this over the next 12 to 13 weeks. We just need to implement some of these services and cash flow tools into your business.”
Ryan Starks: (08:18) What are some of the greatest challenges that the businesses are telling you they’re seeing?
Shane Rowley: (08:26) That’s a great question. Sales are probably one of the biggest. We serve many technology clients in Utah. Some of these technology companies, there’s been many reductions in forces on the sales side of those teams. I think everybody is really double-downing on engineering and on customer success. Just having faith and hoping that by the third quarter the sales stream is back up and everybody’s not landing those new bills again.
Ryan Starks: (08:59) With this pandemic, a lot of businesses are really scraping to find capital. One of the ways that capital is coming to these businesses is through the SBAs PPP loan program. Have you been able to assist any businesses with that program?
Shane Rowley: (09:13) Yes. The PPP program has been incredible for all of our clients. We partnered with Cache Valley Bank here in Utah. They have been an incredible partner. They were able to allow us to fund and get 100% of our clients funded immediately. Either on round one or very early on round two of the PPP program.
Additionally, we’ve been able to help close to 100 other companies that aren’t our clients. Our teams had availability to help them get the PPP loan, as well with Cache Valley Bank.
It’s just been incredible to see the whole community work together in Utah. I saw a statistic recently that Utah, from a per capita standpoint, has the most PPP loans anywhere in the country when you look at a percentage of it. I really think that’s our community coming together to really take care of these businesses.
Ryan Starks: (10:11) You’re right. We do have a remarkable community. Just today, the Department of Workforce Services released its unemployment data. Nationally it’s about 14%, Utah is just above 9%. While that’s not something to celebrate, we’re certainly ahead of the pack in terms of the way we come together, and the way that we work through difficult situations.
Shane Rowley: (10:23) Absolutely.
Ryan Starks: (10:25) Is there still time for businesses to apply for this PPP money? Is there money available?
Shane Rowley: (10:41)The SBA on round two allocated some additional funds for the PPP. The first couple of hundred billion went very quickly. I believe the last report was over $90 billion in PPP money. Anybody that’s an entrepreneur, sole proprietorship, business, LLC corporation, if you file business taxes, there’s still an opportunity to earn some of that.
For context, it will be about two and a half months of your average payroll for last year. There are some other little rules for sole proprietorships or sole member LLCs, but that is still available. There are businesses, still this morning, that we’ve been helping with that are getting approved.
Ryan Starks: (11:24) That’s great. Is there a website or a place where a business can go to learn more about some of the resources available?
Shane Rowley: (11:32) We’ve been keeping track on our webpage some of the important guidelines you should know at trustnimbl.com/covid-19. There’s also a little COVID-19 section that will take you to a lot of those updates. It talks a lot about the different programs out there, different payroll credits, employee retention credits, and the PPP rules and forgiveness rules. It goes through many of those issues.
Ryan Starks: (12:05) Great. Let’s talk a little bit about your location there in Silicon Slopes in Lehi, Utah. Tell us about the environment there. How’s business going? How have you integrated your tech company with the finance focus into the Silicon Slopes?
Shane Rowley: (12:23) Well, number one, we love it here in Silicon Slopes. We feel very fortunate to be headquartered right here and be a part of it. We’ve been able to really integrate well with a lot of these startup businesses. These startup companies, my partner and I have both been a part of them. If you’re less than 10 people, you get some seed money, and you’re trying to make everything work, but typically you don’t always know someone that knows accounting or finances. We’ve really been able to come in and be a resource to so many of these companies. Help them grow, get their Series A or Series B funding, and really just be a part of their business from day one and go from there.
Ryan Starks: (13:02) Utah, we like to say, has the most diverse economy. We have a lot of strong entrepreneurs coming from our colleges and a really talented workforce. I know a lot of businesses are kind of thinking about taking that next step. A lot of entrepreneurs are thinking about launching that next business. If you had to give them any advice, to that entrepreneur who is thinking about starting a business, what advice would that be?
Shane Rowley: (13:27) Do it. It’s that simple. You learn as you go. I’ve been able to be a part of many businesses. Same with my business partner. And there’s a lot of hard lessons we’ve learned as we’ve gone through. I don’t think you really get to learn those lessons unless you go through them.
Manage your cash, manage your risk. Go out and see what you can learn. It’s amazing that Utah entrepreneurs have Silicon Slopes. They’re doing amazing things. Many of the ideas and businesses were started by 22, 23, 24-year-olds.
Many of them were started later in life as well. People in their 40s and 50s, they’d taken their life career experience. It’s never too late. And it’s amazing to see.
Ryan Starks: (14:10) You’re telling me there’s a chance for me then?
Shane Rowley: (14:12) There’s always the chance.
Ryan Starks: (14:16) I really appreciate your time. Thank you for joining us today. It’s great to learn more about Nimbl. Best of luck to you.
Shane Rowley: (14:24) Thank you, Ryan. It’s been a pleasure.
Thanks for listening to the Business Elevated podcast, a production of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Listen to other episodes where you get your podcasts or at business.utah.gov.