My name is Sue Mulligan and I am the founder and CEO of Agile Advisors, LLC, an outsourced accounting and finance firm which specializes in venture-backed startups. I am also a married mom with five kids. My darling cherubs are ages 13 to 22, with the added bonus of having three of them in college at the same time. A warning to all the young moms out there: it doesn’t get any easier, they just get more expensive. And yes, they continue to be exhausting and still bicker all the time.
I started Agile Advisors ten years ago, on a soccer field, where, of course, all good things originate. In my prior life, I was the CFO of a venture capital firm. When I had my third child, I decided to retire to more fully take advantage of the joy of motherhood and listen to the aforementioned bickering. During a nail-biting ten year-old soccer game, another parent who knew of my accounting and VC background, asked if I would be interested in working with him on a leasing software company he had started. Fast-forward to another season of soccer and a hedge fund manager was looking for help in the back office. My roster of clients continued to grow over the years. When my second son left for college and my kids started to need me less during the day, I took a closer look at the business I had grown and realized it could really be something with a little TLC.
One of my clients, turned mentor, gave me some very sage advice several years ago. I, Sue Mulligan, can only work so many hours and make so much money being a one woman shop. With that counsel in the back of my mind, I brought on a senior accountant to do the day-to-day transactional work for my clients. That was 2 years ago. Agile Advisors is now a growing team of 10 people and continuing to grow.
There are outsourced accounting firms scattered all over the country. What makes Agile Advisors particularly unique? With the exception of one consultant, everyone is a former or current stay at home mom. I’m sure you can all understand the internal struggle we moms face every day. Do we stay home and gaze lovingly at our little angels while they have their fifth temper tantrum of the day or do we go to work and then wish we were home to tuck them in for their nap? The struggle is very real! My firm has allowed highly intelligent women the opportunity to work from home in a flexible, part time environment. My personal goal is to provide that opportunity to many more moms. The team we’ve put together are former public accounting managers, accounting directors, CPAs and MBAs. They have the best of both worlds and job satisfaction is high. This is very beneficial to our clients; my team does not leave, they are doing exactly what they want to do and not looking for the next big thing. Startups don’t have time for the disruption of losing someone from their accounting staff.
Creating this firm has given my kids, especially my girls, an extraordinary perspective on how women can be successful in the work place AND raise a family. My middle daughter was a junior in high school during the Women’s March in Chicago. She posted on social media that her mom was not going down to the march, but instead creating change by doing. Her mom was able to make the choice to leave a successful career to stay home and raise her family AND be able to go back to create a rapidly growing company empowering other women. She was too busy driving change to hold a sign. I loved her just a little bit more that day!
So now that you’ve heard the backstory, what does Agile Advisors actually do? We are a dynamic team, with varying backgrounds, focused on helping startups grow and, more recently, assist mid-size companies with staff augmentation. Working with venture backed companies was a natural transition based on my VC background. We know what a good pitch deck should look like, we know what it takes to raise capital and we have broad connections with VCs to assist with introductions. We offer senior accountant, controller and CFO services on an hourly basis. Clients can expect to get the same level of service they would expect from an in-house accounting department. Our CFOs create projections, coordinate due diligence, provide monthly flux analysis, manage insurance, payroll and benefits, we become a trusted advisor. Team members have supported high quality clients including Alice App, ShipBob, FourKites, GCG Financial and G Medical Innovations. We are industry agnostic and have a wide breadth of experience across several industry lines.
Having gone down varying paths since having kids, I would strongly encourage all the moms out there to chase your passion. Although we are all moms first and family is of utmost importance, we can make a difference and our businesses can be just as successful as anyone else’s. We often bring a completely different and valuable mindset to an organization. Venture capitalists recognize this and further realize women-founded organizations are under-funded. As a whole, they are making a concerted effort to reduce this disparity and encourage strong women to flourish. Women are also taking a more active role within VCs and creating their own funds, which focus on funding businesses led by women. Through organizations like The Founding Moms, support is out there to guide you on this journey. There is no force stronger than women supporting other women!