Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki Turner.
Nikki, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
So, there are many jumping-off points to this story, but I will begin in Upstate New York.
It was September 11, 2001. I was several years deep into my career as an engineer so desperately wanting to transition from a technical field into a business management position. In my mind, this is where the key decisions are made. The awful event that occurred on that day, just a few hours south put a lot of things into perspective. It created in me an urgency to relentlessly go after my goals. Getting into business school at that time was super-competitive, but it was essential to my quest. My desire to marry my technical acumen to my passion for business led me to Carnegie Mellon on a full tuition-free fellowship for the next two years.
After receiving my MBA, I transitioned into a career that lasted over a decade in Silicon Valley. This is where I built my resiliency muscle. Being a woman of color in one of the most male-dominated industries, I quickly learned that the key to a successful career with longevity is to first establish credibility amongst my peers. These are the ultimate influencers as you navigate both life and business.
As a result, I was often tasked to help out former colleagues, who decided to take the plunge into the tech startup world. I provided unofficial consulting services in parallel to my day job. So once I decided to take a sabbatical from the rat race and move to Miami, this opened up the door for my time as an entrepreneur. Miami made perfect sense for me, simply because the startup community is growing. According to TechCrunch, Miami ranks #2 for being the most entrepreneurial city, but access to capital still vastly lags behind Silicon Valley. This dichotomy was the reason why I founded The CFO District.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I grew up in a generation that was constantly told that we could have it all. I’ve learned that life is full of bumps in the road and most of those bumps are self-inflicted, simply from trying to attain everything. That should never be the goal. I had to learn this the hard way. Even fishermen (or fisherwomen in this case) are strategic when casting a wide net. Timing, positioning, persistence, environmental conditions and partnerships matter the most while on this journey because failure is guaranteed.
From an entrepreneurial perspective, failure is a part of the business model. With that being said, I strongly subscribe to a quote by Jessica Herrin, Founder & CEO of Stella & Dot – “You have to see failure as the beginning and the middle, but never entertain it as an end.” So, in order to experience a smoother journey, you must remain centered on the road. This is done by avoiding diversions and shortcuts. There is a shortcut myth and you will be tempted by it. And while I am a huge proponent to maintaining a lifestyle of lifetime learning in order to master your craft, I also believe that your character will define what you do and how you show up once opportunities are presented.
We’d love to hear more about The CFO District.
So as previously stated, I am the Founder and Managing Director of the CFO District in Miami. Our mission is to support the economic development of tech startup communities that aspire to compete with the Silicon Valley model but lack the connection on what it takes to compete. We have exclusively consulted for early-stage tech companies with both international operations in Latin America and Africa and have a social impact mission tied to their for-profit business. We offer interim CFO advisory services to assist these companies as an alternative to paying the high costs of hiring a full-time staff CFO during this stage of their operations. These services include investor relations, financial planning and analysis, financial systems implementation, valuations and tax planning and preparation. We also partner with the CEO/Founder to assist in onboarding a permanent CFO hire after our assignments are complete.
Although the fractional or remote CFO practice has become commonplace, The CFO District is unique in that our core competencies are tied to our global connections across multiple tech verticals. We were first techies who speak the language of engineering, but can effectively represent our clients with the top VC firms. So, if you are looking to raise a round of capital, we will manage the process from beginning to end. Our investor materials (including financial models) have been used to pitch to the Silicon Valley investor community. Tax planning is an area that often gets overlooked. Our tax strategies can reduce cash-flow burn rates by evaluating the R&D tax credit during the startup phase.
We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
Absolutely! Aside from having amazing parents who encouraged and required excellence at an early age, my childhood community played a huge role in my openness to explore careers that were not widely seen as “for women”. The community was full of teachers, entrepreneurs, nurses, lawyers and everyday common folk. They were my personal cheerleaders and protectors as I navigated through life. I have and continue to always feel a sense of obligation to those who came before me and provided the foundation for things that I can now freely take for granted. This support system is the reason why I value relationships and networks over anything else when it comes to business.
- We offer competitive pricing based on the size and complexity of your business, as well as the scope of the services required. Our base-level service offering starts at $1,075/mth on an annualized basis. Regardless of service type, we recommend that the financial accounting systems and processes be managed in whole or in part by our team when a tax-related service is required.
- Website: www.thecfodistrict.com
- Phone: 415-854-2603
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @thecfodistrict
- Twitter: @thecfodistrict
Corrado Amenta, Onkei Photography