2020 started with great promise. Flutterwave raised a Series B round of $35m to invest in technology, improved customer experience and business development. Rugged road ahead, but a road leading to a desired destination, nonetheless. People like Rick make the journey easier.
For Rick Rosenthal, the new Senior Vice President, Global Head of Finance, at Flutterwave, the road ahead is as clear as ever. “I see myself scaling Flutterwave’s finance department as we continue to expand our footprint across Africa and beyond, establishing finance as a valued business partner to the broader team, helping shape our growth strategy, and ensuring that we are well-positioned to go public, should we choose.”
He believes that it is not just enough to go public through an IPO, it is also about ensuring the company scales efficiently.
“The foundation that we establish today across people, systems and processes will enable us to thrive as we continue to grow rapidly in the future,” he continued.
His versatility and knowledge of business operations complements his in-depth understanding of financial strategy which he has acquired and honed throughout his 18 year finance career starting as an Investment Banking Analyst at Citigroup in 2002, to Flutterwave in 2020. But first, let’s get to know him a little more.
Get to Know Rick
“Originally from Baltimore, I currently live in New Jersey, just a few miles outside of New York City, with my wonderful wife and 2 amazing daughters” he replied to Seun (Content Creator at Flutterwave) who wanted him to tell us a bit about himself. “I graduated from the University of Michigan Business School and I’m a CFA Charterholder,” he quickly added.
In 2016, his startup idea offering on-demand Excel help, won Startup Weekend Stamford, a competition for founders with bright and world-changing ideas. People had been coming to Rick for years to help them with Excel and he decided that it was a widespread problem worth solving.
Rick’s Interests Range from Sports, to Broadway, to Netflix. He’s also a fan of Big Brother…yes you heard that right!
Asides from work, there is a lot going on for Rick. Rick loves playing fantasy football, and rooting for his hometown Ravens and Orioles. He enjoys playing soccer and going to Broadway shows (in a pre-pandemic world), and it seems his two daughters are taking after their dad’s interests!
“I also love spending time with my family and cheering on my daughters during their soccer matches and singing recitals,” he said as Seun wound down her questions on what Rick does for fun.
He continued, “I enjoy streaming shows on Netflix, like Breaking Bad, Money Heist and Umbrella Academy. Funny enough, I am a Big Brother fan. I know Flutterwave has been involved in the BBnaija and I have been a fan.”
“Big Brother???” Seun echoed. “Yes, Big Brother and I also watched a few episodes from the Nigerian Big Brother online.” He declared.
Perhaps Seun didn’t believe he was the type to watch and take interest in the Big Brother Show. But he is. That’s Rick. Playful, experienced, ready to help, ready to teach and handy with numbers.
More on Rick’s Career
Rick started his career in the investment banking and investment management world, but ultimately recognized that he wanted more out of his career. You know what they say about passion? Live it, love it.
“I was in the hedge fund world where I was investing in public companies in the stock market, but I found that it wasn’t my passion. Rather than investing in stocks, I found greater interest in more directly helping businesses create value by leveraging the skills and knowledge I had already developed in my career,” Rick said.
And so Rick made a career switch to the corporate finance world, with a particular focus in the technology startup ecosystem. He joined CLEAR to lead finance in its early days. He quickly learned the operational aspects of running a finance department to complement his strategic finance background.
“At CLEAR, I had the opportunity to ramp up quickly on some operational aspects of finance that I hadn’t overseen before. So, in addition to managing the company model and providing financial analysis in support of the business, I also gained hands-on experience with our accounting, treasury, accounts payable and payroll functions. From there, he joined WeWork to lead its Global Financial Planning & Analysis and Development Finance teams.
“I highly value my time at WeWork,” he said. “I got to experience, first hand, the rapid evolution of a company from a primarily U.S.-centric organization to a multi-billion dollar, global company, and I was directly responsible for scaling some global finance functions. I was fortunate to be able to learn from some world class financial talent. And the company’s mission, targeted toward entrepreneurs pursuing their life’s work, was something that resonated with me.”
Rick Feels at Home
Now, armed with years of broad-based financial leadership experience, he could not be more excited for his role as Senior Vice President, Global Head Finance at Flutterwave. He said,
“What I love about Flutterwave is that I get the opportunity to match the experience that I have in finance with a company whose mission is to help small, medium and large businesses grow. I’m excited to dive right in and share the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career, and to help establish the foundation that will enable Flutterwave’s finance department to thrive for years to come, and to allow us to better serve our customers. Impact matters to me and this is it!” he concluded.
Perhaps, he’s found home.
For him, home is in New Jersey, where his family is, and also all over the world where his fellow Wavers work to simplify payments for endless possibilities. For Rick, home is America, but also Africa. And a few things piqued his interest about his new found home.
“As I was researching the opportunity, I saw that there’s a tremendous amount of population growth expected across Africa, and what I loved about Flutterwave is that we’re bringing the solution that will help connect merchants and consumers in Africa to the digital economy,” he said. “I think this will be crucial to ensuring strong economic growth across the continent in the future, particularly as the population continues to grow.”
A Future Generation of Finance Experts
More than work, legacy and talent development matter a lot to Rick. He wants to build a generation of finance experts.
“I have learned a tremendous amount about what works and what does not work as a young, technology oriented company scales,” he said.
He continued, “I love being able to share those lessons with other people to make sure we can grow profitably and successfully; I am happy to teach people who are excited to learn and grow professionally.”
Our interview with Rick lasted for almost an hour, but we didn’t realize it. Perhaps it had to do with Rick being a likeable figure because one thing I know is true – interviews about FINANCE do not typically go on this long, if there’s no fun to it. And we all know that numbers are not fun! (Hides from Rick!!!).