David B Horne is the Founder of Add Then Multiply, a consultancy working exclusively with business founders who want to grow fast. David is also the Founder of Funding Focus, a social enterprise whose mission is to level the uneven playing field that female and underrepresented entrepreneurs of all genders face when raising capital. He is the author of Amazon #1 bestselling Add Then Multiply – How small businesses can think like big businesses and achieve exponential growth. David’s second book, Funded Female Founders, was published in June 2022 and is also an Amazon #1 bestseller. His TEDx talk “The Fight for Fairer Funding” has over 3 million views.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Outlook Magazine, David shared his insights on the key challenges faced by SMEs today, his career trajectory, the inspiration behind establishing ‘Funding Focus’, personal productivity tip, future plans, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
David, can you please tell us about your background and areas of interest?
I trained as a Chartered Account with PWC, qualifying in Victoria, BC, Canada. I then transferred to PWC in Zurich, Switzerland, and after 2 years my largest client, NCR Switzerland, offered me a fantastic opportunity to join as their Financial Controller. They had over 2,000 employees and $300 million in revenue, so it was exciting, and I was just 27 years old. Four years later I had the opportunity to move with NCR to the UK and have lived in London for the past 30 years. I left big corporates at the end of 1999 and over the next 10 years was CFO of three companies that were in different industries, and they were all active in raising capital and buying other companies. I quit my last CFO role in 2010 and have built my own boutique consulting practice which I have run since then. We work with companies that want to grow by raising funding and acquiring other businesses. On the personal side, my interests are travel, music and wine.
What are the key challenges faced by small businesses right now?
Small businesses (“SMEs”) face many challenges. The biggest ones are: cash flow; finding, winning and keeping customers; and attracting and retaining talented people. At the same time, SMEs have many opportunities: they are fun to work in; there is (almost) no politics; they are nimble and can often outmanoeuvre bigger competitors to win new business.
Can you tell us about your bestselling book, “Add Then Multiply – How small businesses can think like big businesses and achieve exponential growth” and your FACE methodology?
My first book, Add then Multiply, is based on everything I learned over the 10 year period when I was CFO of the three companies that raised capital and bought other companies. Writing the book was a real game-changer. It forced me to clearly articulate a strategy of exactly what it is that I do. And perhaps more importantly, what I don’t do. It helped me focus my business (also called Add then Multiply) on the right kind of clients, which included dropping a few clients that no longer fit what we were doing. That freed up time to find clients that were a better fit, and the business has grown from five years ago when it was me and a part-time virtual assistant, to a team of 5.
The FACE methodology stands for Fund, Acquire, Consolidate, Exit. It is an advanced strategy for achieving accelerated growth, and it is something that many small business owners don’t think applies to them. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. When you raise Funds, you have the opportunity to Acquire a top-quality business which you can build upon, rather than buying a cheap company that needs a turnaround strategy. The Consolidate phase is the hardest, because it’s all about putting companies together to maximise the opportunities that each brings to the table. Finally, when you decide it’s time to move on to the next thing, you sell the combined businesses, and that is the Exit. Fund, Acquire, Consolidate, Exit.
What was the inspiration behind establishing ‘Funding Focus’? What is its mission and vision?
The inspiration behind Funding Focus came to me in 2019. I was speaking at an event about fundraising for SMEs, and after my talk a woman came up to me and asked why so little funding went to female founders. I didn’t know the answer. In fact, I’m ashamed to admit that at the time I didn’t even know it was an issue. I started researching the issue and was shocked by what I found: over the last 15 years the level of venture capital funding to female founders has never broken through 2% of total funding in Europe and 3% in the USA, despite the fact that female founders submitted more than 5% of pitchdecks. All male teams, by contrast, submitted around 70% of pitchdecks and received over 85% of total funding, The rest goes to mixed gender teams. It’s a similar story for non-white founders of any gender. The mission of Funding Focus is to level the uneven playing field that female and under-represented founders of every gender face when raising capital.
How was your experience like at your first TED talk on “The Fight for Fairer Funding”? Please walk us through the journey.
I have always wanted to do a TEDx talk, and when I was approached by the organisers of TEDx PCL in London, I was excited. There is a huge amount of preparation required to give a TEDx talk. I immediately reached out to a person I know who is a TEDx coach, and he really helped me to craft my talk and ensure it had the maximum impact. The day of the talk itself was unusual, because it was recorded during the pandemic. The only people allowed in the room were the TEDx organisers and the other speakers. Then, in the summer of 2022 the most amazing thing happened: my talk was picked up and shared by four YouTube influencers and it now has more than 3 million views!
You have been a recipient of numerous awards and accolades over the years. What is the secret mantra behind your success?
I have been fortunate to win a few awards. The one I’m most proud of is Best Business Self Development Book, which Add then Multiply won at the 2020 Business Book Awards. It may sound trite, but the key to winning awards is to enter them. If you don’t win, learn from the process and enter them again. Put forward things that you are proud of and that can make a difference to peoples’ lives.
Please brief us about your second book, ‘Funded Female Founders’. What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning this book?
Writing my second book, Funded Female Founders, was very different to the first one. I spent about 18 months researching it, interviewing dozens of female founders, senior people in venture capital firms and business advisors. I also shared the draft at various stages with several key women in my network, asking them for critical feedback. I had to ensure the tone was right. As a man writing a book about fundraising for women in business, I was particularly concerned that it did not come across as mansplaining.
What’s a productivity tip you swear by?
About five years ago, I started working with a virtual assistant, Taryn. Just 10 hours a week to start. She has been employed full time in my business for the last three years. We speak first thing in the morning, every day. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa and I live in London. We have never met in person, but I would be lost without her.
What are your personal goals in the next 5 years?
Growing up in Canada I learned to work hard and play hard. My goal is to build a lifestyle that I never retire from. I love what I do and want to do it for the rest of my life. At the same time, I take around 8 weeks of holiday every year, including a 6-week “pilgrimage” back to Canada to visit family and friends – some of the people I love most in the world.
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs who are trying to raise funding?
Read Funded Female Founders! It is written as a guide. The first part of the book looks at what it’s really like out there. The good, the bad and the ugly. It shares the stories of 7 female founders in 7 different industries in 4 countries who have successfully raised capital. The second part looks at the different types of funding that are available, how to pitch for it and hoe to close the deal. The final part looks into the future and discusses things that need to change economically, politically and socially to ensure everyone has fair access to the capital that is available.