306 view of fundraising

CFO Intelligence Magazine – Winter 2024

Sarah Spoja
Tipalti CFO

SARAH SPOJA HAS BEEN ON BOTH SIDES OF THE FUNDRAISING TABLE.
Advising investors, she spent more than a decade at powerhouses like Bain & Co. and later at the private equity firm KKR,
working on projects like buy-side diligence, customer research, and new product potential for buy-side private equity. In 2018, when she was a Director at KKR Capstone, Spoja left to become the first-ever CFO at Tipalti, a fast-growing California-based global payables automation solutions company that counts Duolingo, Amazon Twitch and other companies among its client base. Since joining Tipalti, Spoja and her team have been behind more than $700 million of equity and debt funding for the enterprise, which has a market valuation North of $8 billion. Spoja shared her capital-raise insights with CFO Intelligence. “The time to begin planning for a fundraising round is long before you actually need the cash,” says Spoja. “At the end of the day, it’s all about relationships. Many times, I have known key investor players for years before approaching them for a fundraising round, having met them through informal introductions, networking or conferences during times when we were not raising [funds], and starting to build relationships and sharing the Tipalti story with them.

FUNDRAISING SHAKEUPS

She’s been with Tipalti since 2018, “and between Covid-19 and interest rate hikes, I’ve seen the fundraising environment go through some shakeups,” Spoja shares. “pre-Covid, you’d lock yourself in a room for days with your funders and their support teams, but for a few years, most of the negotiations took place over Zoom. It’s nice now, in 2023, that some of the fundraising experience is coming back in person, since this gives a chance for investors and companies to get to know each other more…