Today we enter the world of finance in our team Spotlight blogs, as we sat down with our CFO Sacha Jacobs. Having worked in both blue-chip corporates and SMEs within media and tech, he joined Fabacus after meeting with our founder Andrew Xeni:
Hi Sacha, thanks for sharing your insight today. Perhaps we can start with a bit about yourself and your background, before joining Fabacus as CFO?
My background is corporate, blue-chip for 10-12 years then into small, privately-owned SMEs in media and tech, which is how I ended up at Fabacus.
So I started in General Electric, working globally, where I lived out of a suitcase for the best part of 5 years. I then moved to NBCUniversal, working in finance and management development. I worked in corporate finance for about 10-12 years before then moving into small, privately owned SMEs in the media and technology sectors.
One of the businesses I was working with was coming to a close, and someone introduced me to Andrew and Fabacus, and the rest was history.
After having that intro and chat, what were your reasons for joining Fabacus?
Put simply, two reasons. First, the opportunity – I understand the market and the opportunity that Xelacore opens up and what it can do for businesses seemed incredibly exciting.
Secondly, the people – Andrew and the investor team gave me huge confidence, this isn’t just a company creating a ‘technology product or solution’. Everyone is hugely knowledgeable about the retail, manufacturing and licensing sectors – they lived and breathed it and know how to add value and evolve businesses and processes for the better.
So did you always want to work within technology or licensing?
Well my first job before GE was in a washing machine factory! I then moved to manufacturing and finally finance for all of my time and NBCUniversal.
In honesty, finance and the running of a business interested me more than the sector I was working in – I made sure to hone my skill set so I could apply it to any sector or industry. For me, it’s always been about the people – who it is I’m working for and with. You can learn skills or a business model but you can’t as easily change the atmosphere or passion of a team.
In thinking about changes in teams, or generally this year, there’s been an enormous amount of change within businesses and ways of working due to the pandemic, have you seen an impact or noticed any major change?
In all honesty, I haven’t seen that much of a change in Fabacus specifically, as we always had flexibility. But yes the proportion has changed, and the tools we’ve used to adapt – however the principle and productivity remains the same.
The thing I’d say is we have an incredibly passionate and motivated team, really wanting to make a change and difference, and truly believing in the product and what it will provide people. As a small company we’ve been as good and effective as we always would’ve been. It’s just been a change in the general mix not a change in the practice.
What’s a typical day at Fabacus like, for you?
I’d say typically it’s about 70% finance, with a healthy balance between dealing with the transactional side of the business and then more broad level process and financial accounting. The rest of time there could be legal help, financial negotiations, contract work, The beauty of working for a company like Fabacus is how every day opens up different work and opportunities.
I’ve never been as excited about going into the office every day as I have at Fabacus – I do genuinely mean that – it’s the opportunity, the people, the buzz, the challenge and what we can really achieve and help businesses achieve.
In terms of what you’re helping businesses to achieve, how do you think technology like Xelacore can play a role in the future of licensing?
I believe Fabacus will help accelerate digitalization and aid collaboration and business agility. Licensing is still very analogue and enterprise focused, everything is relationship driven, which is hugely important and can’t be replaced, but data is becoming king and the sharing of quality, governed data will be so important to help build lasting, proper relationships.
The unique thing about Fabacus and Xelacore is we’re more than just a data aggregation or counterfeit solution. We’re also a workflow solution through each of our modules, helping each stakeholder in the value chain, all the way through to consumers and connecting licensors with consumers of their licensed product, it makes us unique.
There are plenty of workflow solutions and process tools out there and although we do that, we’ll also make sure when you’re at the critical points in that workflow, you can use quality, accurate data to make critical, strategic decisions. No one else is doing that, providing such a completeness of all data points exactly when you need them.
You mention making strategic decisions and changing strategy based on consumer data and knowing their changing behaviours and habits, particularly post-pandemic – so my question is, what can brands be doing more to provide value for consumers, especially given the events of this year?
It’s like you said, it’s knowing their consumers and their needs… I still think so many brands don’t actually know who their consumers are, their data just isn’t accurate, or they just don’t have access to it.
Traditional marketing just won’t cut it now, with the rise of NFT technology and ecommerce, also paired with a nostalgia for physical interaction and events, brands need to be engaging with consumers over multiple touchpoints and giving them brand value on and offline. Consumers can connect with brands from the palm of their hands, so the opportunity to give this to consumers is right there – be that buying a licensed product then receiving a digital piece of content or watching a brand video for a voucher to use at a branded pop-up, there are so many cross-channel opportunities now available to provide value to consumers, and licensors need to be a part of that in order to forge and foster a direct relationship.
It really excites me what we’re doing with Xelacore Reach and how it not only benefits our client’s business but consumers too, it’s all intrinsically connected. The digitization is finally to fill in the gaps, and provide the licensors the level of knowledge about their consumers they don’t currently have.
In thinking about the evolution there could be, is there a company you have in mind as a dream client… if they’re not already?
We’re incredibly fortunate to be working with some major players in the industry and have their buy in for the transformative work we’re doing, UFC, Epic Games, Taste of London to name a few, also of course through our strategic partnership with the great team at IMG.
I’d say a brand with a mindset to want to innovate, to want to adapt and change ways of working to see what could be possible – so they can fully appreciate the value of how a technology like Xelacore can really add value to their business.