Our Client Spotlight series features business leaders, entrepreneurs, and company executives from high-growth companies who have successfully fundraised via Hum’s Intelligent Capital Market. Each Q&A will discuss why they started the company, challenges they faced in scaling, and why they chose to partner with Hum.
Chase Birky is a co-founder of Dark Horse CPAs and currently serves as its President & CEO. Dark Horse is a platform accounting firm that provides CPAs with best-in-class technology, staffing, marketing, coaching and collaboration to enable them to start a practice from scratch or scale an existing practice under an elevated brand with a reputation for superior client service.
Birky founded Dark Horse CPAs with fellow co-founder Max Fritz and has successfully grown the company from a 4-person firm with revenue of $425K to 55 people and projecting revenue of $5.75M in 2022.
In this Client Spotlight Q&A, Birky discusses founding Dark Horse CPAs and why they chose to partner with Hum to fund their growth.
Q: Thanks for taking the time Chase! First can you provide a brief overview of Dark Horse CPAs and the core business?
A: Dark Horse is a platform CPA firm where CPAs can come to build a practice from scratch or merge-in an existing practice to get the infrastructure, resources, technology, marketing/branding and shared expertise and collaboration to build and scale a profitable, future-proof accounting practice. In the same way that AWS made hosting your own server environment obsolete, we’ve built everything you’d need to serve your clients at the highest level, focusing on what you do best and leaving the rest to us.
Q: Dark Horse CPAs was founded in 2015. How has the business grown and scaled since its founding?
A: Well before it really grew in a significant way, it had to be rebirthed. The platform CPA firm we are today didn’t begin to take shape until 2019. Prior to July 2019, we were a 4-person firm with revenue of $425K. Fast forward to today and we’re 55 people strong and projecting revenue of $5.75MM for 2022.
Q: What inspired you and your founding team to take on the challenge of disrupting the accounting industry? Was it a past experience or job?
A: It has to be disrupted, and rebirthed, to continue to be relevant into the future. A big part of our mission is to save public accounting from the longstanding issues that plague the profession. The traditional partnership firm model hasn’t evolved with the businesses they support; it’s stayed mostly the same for the 140 years public accounting has existed. It’s a model that profits from the exploitation of those in their 20’s and 30’s through overwork and underpay, with the profits flowing up the pyramid to the partners. Only 2% of staff make partner. It really resembles a pyramid scheme when you think about it. Having been depressed and burned out grinding through that system, I knew there was a better, more humane business model that could be created if someone had the courage to break the mold. I also didn’t see anyone, at the time, taking up that torch so I had to put my money where my mouth was.
Q: What made you and the team decide to raise outside capital to grow the business?
A: We hire ahead of the business coming in the door, investing heavily in the salaries, technology and marketing that allows people to make the leap into building their own practice and setting them up for success. We have a nearly 100% success rate of getting our Accelerators to firm Principal so we had no doubt about the business model. In order to fuel growth and satisfy CPA demand for the opportunity, as well as continuing to improve our technology and overall offering to our CPAs, we needed outside capital so that we could grow at the pace we wanted to…fast! It also gave us the ability to finance the buy-ins for those who graduate from our Principal Accelerator Program without them having to liquidate their savings or struggle to obtain unattractive outside financing. We knew we had to have the right partner in our capital raise, one that understood our business and its potential. We found that in Hum Capital.
Q: How did you discover Hum and what was the experience like working with Hum’s team and raising capital via the Intelligent Capital Market (ICM)?
A: I actually heard about it from a friend of mine who knew we were about to raise capital…he told me I should take a look as it appeared to him as a progressive way to obtain non-traditional financing. Traditional banks just don’t have the ability to go outside the box for growth stage companies and they only want your business once the uncertainty has mostly dissipated. Working with Hum was totally different. They were quickly able to understand our business, which is no small task as we’ve created a new category that requires a level of sophistication to truly understand. Not only did they understand what we are doing but they worked strategically with us to find the right capital solution to support our business that met all of our needs and objectives. Getting to a term sheet, executing the contracts, and receipt of funds happened quickly and with minimal friction. Every business owner who has a need for capital should start with Hum as far as I’m concerned.
Q: Can you share how Dark Horse CPAs plans to use the capital to grow?
A: We’re going to YOLO on some lotto tickets and NFTs and hope it works out. Might even buy some Beanie Babies in hopes of that making a comeback. But seriously, we’ll be using the money to hire people to generate more business and create an even more compelling platform to enable our folks to live an elevated existence, both professionally and personally.
This testimonial may not represent the experience of all clients and is not indicative of future performance or success.