With Matthew May
Matthew May, the president of Acuity, returns to The Unique CPA on Episode 139, and he gives Randy the insider’s perspective on Benefit Corporations, better known as B Corps. Acuity started the process of being recognized as a B Corp in 2020, and Matthew talks about the community that surrounds B Corps, the employee-centric image being a B Corp projects, and the difficulty that faces service firms that wish to become B Corps because they don’t have physical supply chains.
Today, our guest is Matthew May. Matthew is a co-founder and partner at Acuity. Acuity is a remote, cloud-based accounting firm. Matthew himself is headquartered out of the Atlanta area, but they have people all over the country—about 150 people, so a very large practice. Matthew is very involved in technology. In fact, his handle on Twitter, I think everywhere, I don t know if it’s Twitter or LinkedIn, or, is TheTechCPA. So this is a topic he talks about a lot. We’re going to go a different direction today, although technology may come into it. Matthew, welcome to The Unique CPA.
Thanks for having me, Randy. I’m really excited to be here.
Well, this is not your first time. This is technically your third time. We did a one-onone. We did the live podcast, which was a fun time.
That was the best recording session I’ve ever had in my entire life, just for the record.
Yeah! Well that’s awesome. I had a great time. It’s because all you guys made it, all the guests that came out. We had a great time.
Alright, so the reason you’re back for a third time, other than being such an engaging, entertaining, fun to talk to person—and I can keep going forever—is I noticed a month or two ago, I don’t know the exact timing, you guys announced you had become a B Corp.
On Valentine’s Day, of all days. I think that was when we got the official notice. It’s been a project for several years, but on Valentine’s Day we became an official B Corp.
Which is pretty cool. I had interviewed one other person, a managing partner, John Sensiba from Sensiba San Filippo. They’re out of the San Jose, San Francisco area, Pleasanton, California. And they are a B Corp. And this was three years ago I talked to him about it. And at the time I had no idea what a B Corp is. I still don’t know much about it. And so you’re going to educate me today. But it was really cool to talk to him about it. So if anybody wants to go back and listen, it was probably like episode 5, 6, 7, 8 of the unique CPA where I talked to John sense about, but I got intrigued with it. Not enough, I guess, to dig deeper, but intrigued from a standpoint that I’ve been bringing it up internally at our firm. Like, this is something we really need to look into. And so we’ve started to at least analyze what it is and what it means and if it’s something, the path we want to go down. But we just said the words. We said B Corp. Most people probably don’t know what we’re talking about. Can you give us a quick rundown or, it doesn’t have to be quick as long as you want, aundown on what B Corp is?
Sure. Well, I can tell you what it is. To me, B Corp is a designation that’s historically been kind of more identified with consumer brands like Ben and Jerry’s, Patagonia, like companies that you really think about as doing good in addition to having a commercial business. What it means to me, and you literally have to update your corporation documents or your LLC docs—you literally have to commit that sustainability and non-financial metrics that do better for the world are going to be considered in all of your corporate decisions. That’s the bottom line. You’re going to do right, basically, instead of, or just, you’re just committing to kind of do the right thing and considering all the impacts of your decisions and not just the financial impacts of your decisions. It’s the most interesting clause I’ve ever put in our LLC agreement.
Wow. So it’s just that you’re going to better for the world, is that it?
That’s basically we’re going to do the right thing. We’re committed to thinking about our employees, thinking about our customers, thinking about our supply chain, whatever that be—like, most manufacturers have supply chains, but also, like how we pick vendors and how we pick partners is going to be impacted by this. And just all those things are going to be considered. And we’re committing that it won’t just be a financial decision when we make decisions like this, that we’ll weigh these things. And sometimes financial decisions are important—all these companies make money or try to make money, and that’s still the goal of them. So that’s interesting. Some of the questions we get off the bat are like, oh, does that bust my S Corp or LLC or C Corp or whatever? It’s just a—it’s not a legal designation. It’s not a tax based, for all the accountants, it’s not a tax based designation. It’s basically a certification program that you make some of these commitments, and then you have to prove initially and then on a rolling basis, that you’re meeting the requirements of B Corporation and there’s a not for profit, B Labs, that goes through and does the audits. And just like you go through a financial review, they go through the other stuff on you. So that’s been a great exercise.
Alright. And so I kind of think you probably started to answer that just with your explanation of what it is. But what inspired you as a company to, hey, it’s time to go and look to see if we can actually get this designation. You were probably doing a lot of this stuff already, but now it’s out there and you have this designation. But what was the inspiration to go after this?
Yeah, we started with, like everybody does, I think, we started a program called Acuity Cares and then we just picked a company a year to give back to. So we give free services to now, I think four or five companies that are not for profits. As we grew, we tried to add one to that program. That’s kind of how we started the give back program. I mean, we’ve always started like, how do you make Acuity sustainable? How do you make the decisions we make, make sense? How does this survive into the next generation in a way that we think that’s appropriate. And we kept stumbling across B corps, the community, the people we met in the community just resonated with us. They kind of seemed like our kind of people and we kind of aspire to be kind of the front runners of just sometimes as a firm owner we think like, oh, it’s all about money and stuff like that. It’s not like we’re building huge enterprise values and stuff like that. And a lot of us are just mission based, right? So this program really resonated with us and we’ve gotten lots of kind of subsequent benefits from them, happy to talk about just going through the process.
Oh, we’ll definitely get into that. That’s one of the questions I’ve written down. But I kind of want to set the stage here a little bit. Know, and I know when I talked to John sense about three years ago, they were one of the first accounting firms to go through this. They may have been the first, may have been the second. Do you know, have there been many accounting firms that have done this?
There’s less than 20 U.S. firms that have met this qualification. So it’s still really small numbers, and there’s a couple of reasons for that: I think people are still learning about what a B Corp is, but the criteria and the bar for being a service firm and having B Corp criteria, is much higher than a product firm, because you have to maintain a certain level of points, not like a percentage grade. And a huge number of the points are based on supply chain and suppliers that don’t apply to us. So all these points—not that it’s easy for Patagonia to maintain their certification—but I think it’s easier for a product-based company to achieve the qualifications. Now, they have to do all the right things. They have to have all the considerations throughout their supply chain. So they have a bunch of hurdles to walk through. But they have an opportunity for more points from a gross basis.
Okay, so let’s go into the process. How long did this take, and what was this process you had to go through?
Yeah, we messed up. We tried to do this during COVID and then they got hit really hard and they kind of contracted, and we’re kind of in that middle segment. So they did really good on keeping the big companies flowing through and really good with the smaller companies flowing through, and we kind of got caught in the middle. Because we started about 2020, the process. And so went through an abnormally long time based on some macro events in the economy and stuff like that. I expect that, from what I understand, they’ve really shortened the cycle for people. But we made our initial application, we had somebody help us with our assessment, We went through periods where we started revising policies and seeing best practices.
Some of that was substantive, and some of it was just making sure we had things written down. So some of it was stuff we were already doing, that we wrote down. And then some of it was like, oh, that’s a great idea, and then we should kind of go from that. A lot of it was stuff we were seeking, and were able to kind of leverage the network to see what the best practice was in the industry. So it was a really great process for us. It took way longer than we thought it would. We joke because that was—my business partner’s name is Kenji—we joke because it was his goal, from 2020, that’s why it took so long. Like anything he takes on, we give him a little grief for. So that was kind of fun, too, for me, is that it took a long time and that it was on his plate versus mine, which is nice.
So you gave him some crap. Alright.
Pretty consistently. This was the gift that keeps on giving during COVID. For us, it was like, oh, man, this is awesome. I get to ask him how this is going. So we had two acuity cons where I got to go downstage and say, hey, you have any announcements related to our B Corp for the whole company? And he would have to say, “no.”
It’s still in the works. It’s in process. It’s in review. So, speaking of mean, obviously you said you get graded, so you have to go through some process. Is this like the CPA exam? I mean, you take it, you don’t pass, you can take it again. Or did you get passed the first time you went in, or do you know you got the points beforehand? How’s that process work?
It’s kind of like you do a lot of prep for it, right? So you kind of get a sense for where your score is when you start, and then you go see where the points come out because you’re trying to get an aggregate score to be able to reach the initial certification. But I believe we passed the first certification we went through. It took nine months of, when we saw what the criteria was, to put everything in place and have enough time go by to feel good about still keeping our application in and stuff like that. But I think smaller companies usually do it a lot faster.
Really. Okay. And then, some of the things then. Now, this is curious for me, because there’s some things we’re doing that I’m wondering if would equate to this. Like, we’re remote, like you. We have people all over the country. Twice a year, we get everybody together. In fact, two months from now, we’ll be doing that. And one of the things we’ll do as a company is some kind of charitable thing—we’ll go to whatever, a food pantry or we’ll build, I think we’re talking this year about, there’s this thing you could do about building bikes that you give away to people in need, that kind of thing. Are those types of activities part of this process, or is that just independent?
I know for us it’s not because we’re so remote, so it’s really hard to facilitate those remotely, but I believe it is. Like we did Trees Atlanta last year, but that’s like ten of our people can come, you know, versus 150 people all over the world, like, that’s a little different. But I believe there’s components to that. I don’t remember the exact points for anything. I try to stay out of that fray a little bit, but it’s things like that you’re committed to programs that are, lots of policies that protect your employees or that you have policies for your employees for certain things. Employees are a huge component to it, like what you’re considering from your employees lives that are there. Supply chain is a huge part of it, and clients are part of it. So it’s just very interesting to me.
Yeah. So then let’s talk about this impact that this had, or we’re a month into it, so maybe you don’t have a lot yet, but just going through the process, maybe. There’s, like, three areas I’m curious about. Your company operations. How’s that impact that must change based on these policies you put in place, right?
That’s right. I think more than anything, because we’re kind of growing and we were really late to the game with fully establishing HR. So for context, it wasn’t until I believe, last year, early 2022, where we hired our first HR person.
That was like HR, like all the HR credentials, right? All the HR orgs.
With 150 people?! Wow. Alright.
Yeah. So were an outlier from that perspective. So what it really helped us do was go through and see what policies should be in place as we formalize that. So as that HR person came in, and was helping professionalize a lot of our HR function, she was able to reach out to the B Corp community, which was like, what are the right policies to put in place? Versus reaching out to the law firm and saying, hey, throw us an employee handbook. We were able to look at other people’s handbooks and see what policies were in place, and weren’t in place, so we could really make informed decisions on what a good employer is doing for their people. Often, like, a lot of people want to do the right thing. I feel like Randy, like most of us. Right?
I would hope.
And then the challenge is we get busy and we don’t think about things, and we just let things happen. So anytime, I guess, in our experience, you surround yourself with peers that you’re going to ask these questions to that are as aligned like this as possible, they’ll give you examples that are just more thought out in the ways that you want them to be thought out. Like, I could go to anybody in the Atlanta community and they give me a legal employee handbook, like, this will protect you, don’t worry. But going to the B Corp community and talking to that community, they’ve really thought of it from a lens of, like, I think, a stronger lens of employee advocacy and what’s right for the people, and not just protect the company—which a lot of people get into when they get into these practices. So it’s just a lens shift that was really helpful and kind of in the spirit of what we’ve always wanted, but we had the resources and the people that had done it before and kind of treaded to the way. And that’s really helpful.
Yep. So when you’re talking here, and you and I were both at a conference together, the Quickbooks Connect out in Vegas in December last year, of 2022. And Simon Sinek spoke there. Did you see him speak?
I missed Simon’s. I saw the Gladwell one, but I missed Simon’s.
Because he was talking about one of the things was his book, The Infinite Game. And after I heard him talk, I went out and got that book and I listened to it on tape, and twice. I heard it the one time, and I went and listened again. And that, to me, is a lot like what the things that B Corp represents from a standpoint that it’s not, you know, let’s maximize profits today, know, affect the few. Let’s think about the sustainability of the company for the future and how that’s going to work. And so I don’t know if you’ve ever read that book. I was starting to think, does that come into your mindset with this at all?
I actually haven’t read that book, but I’ll put it on my reading list because it sounds like the right thinking for us.
Yeah, I would highly recommend it, and I am not one that reads business books. I should. I just figure at night I’d rather have a beer and do something else. But this one was really good, so I would highly recommend it. Again, I listened to it two times already, and I’m going to listen to it again.
And it’s kind of the mindset I have with what we’re doing with The Unique CPA—trying to help this create a better accounting profession by sharing knowledge that other people have and having collaboration and figuring out ways that we can make this a profession that people are excited getting into. Alright, I’m going on a rant. Let’s get back to the regularly scheduled show, and I’ll tend torant.
Alright, so, operations, you probably already alluded to culture, but have you seen an impact to the culture based on what you put in place then, too?
Well, I think definitely people that we’ve talked to, like we’ve been talking about this for two years internally, at both the last two AcuityCons, and it’s just really resonated with our folks. All the employees are really on board with this. They’re like, oh, we felt like there was something different here, we couldn’t name it, but this feels right, when they hear it and they talk about it. So we haven’t been able to market ourselves as a B Corp yet, but we do anticipate that there’s a subset of the population that really understands what B Corps are, and they do gravitate towards companies like this. We’ve already seen it with prospects and potential customers that exclusively, like you’re committing to using the supply chain—the way you know that the supply chain has been validated because there’s an audit every three years they’re sustaining is by going to the B Corp list and saying, oh, who do I want to use as my accountant? And just making sure that the people that are being thoughtful about more than just money have some kind of filter, just like everything else. Like you can go and look at which law firms are doing this. You can go look at pretty much any industry you can think of, and you can say, oh, okay, that’s a lens. That’s at least a checkbox that these are the kind of people that we want to work with.
Yeah. So I was going to wonder about financial impact. And so just from that standpoint at least you’re working with the people that have like mind ideas and they gravitate towards what you’re doing because they know that you have that similar idea. So financially, was that an expectation or is that just going to be an auxiliary benefit that you think financially it would help?
Auxiliary benefit, yeah. I think we’re doing this mostly to stay accountable to our employees.
Like if you think about it, if you want to be a good place to work or the best place to work, you find something like this and then somebody’s coming in and keeping you honest every three years? When we get busy, like you get busy and you make decisions, this helps you make sure that you keep things top of mind and just prioritize, and it’s just like everything else. When you state your goal and you write your goal, you’re more likely to achieve it. If we want to be a great place to work for people, this is our writing that down.
Nice. So the employee standpoint is obviously important. It has attracted like-minded businesses that potentially see, oh, that’s the kind of company I want to work with. What about existing customers? Have you got feedback from them on their impression of what this has done?
A couple have chimed out and congratulatory wise, but we haven’t seen, we’re only kind of a month into this from it being public that we’re doing this, so we haven’t got a ton of that out. I hope it’s up on the website now. We’re still in the onboarding process with their marketing group and all that kind of stuff. I know we’re showing up on the B Corp website, which is nice.
But we’re still learning how to—It was never meant to be a real outwardly facing thing, but now that it’s happened, we’re like, oh, we should probably do that. So we’re in the process of evaluating how you do that. I don’t think we even sent a thing out to our clients, so unless they’re following our socials, they haven’t seen that probably.
Well, I did go to your website today, and there is a video of Kenji there talking about the B Corp and what you guys have done and accomplished with it. So it is there on the website from that standpoint.
Yeah, he recorded that in 2021, dude. Just so you can needle him. “Dude, that looks like your haircut in 2021, Kenji!”
He did look different too. I didn’t even know him in ’21.
He looks younger. He looks younger than that.
He does look younger! I’ll have to give him a hard time on that one. I think I need to reach out to him anyways on something else. So one thing that you did mention is, like, supply chain, and I’m guessing even who you decide to use, maybe from a technology standpoint, plays into this? So when we’re talking accounting firms, we don’t really have suppliers that much, like a manufacturer. But how about who you choose to work with from a technology standpoint, or people reaching out to you for that, because now you’re B Corp. Is that something you see play into this?
That’s correct. So that’s where we leverage the community. We just don’t know what we don’t know. And these people in the community are putting processes in place, and we can leverage those on how you make the decisions—like what questions you ask, what you expect of your partners and suppliers and things like that, what process you run them through, how extensive that vetting is, what the criteria is. We just didn’t know where to start there. We kind of used a gut feel perspective historically for most of this stuff.
So it’s kind of like going from gut feel to actual process in all of these evaluations that you do on a routine basis and then trying to ingrain that in your company. So you get the points when it’s ingrained in your company. You don’t necessarily get the points for having good intentions.
Okay, so let’s say you’re trying to vet—pick a technology—what payroll company is best for your clients to be working with, is it—and I’m not going to name payroll companies—but does ABC Company have maybe an edge over XYZ Company because they’re more environmentally friendly or more socially conscious? And so do you get points for that then?
You get the most points for when it’s physical products.
So I think you get some points for doing this with kind of your service provider kind of relationships. This is why I think there’s less accounting firms that have qualified than in other sectors because they get really specific points for if you have a supply chain and you’ve thought through some of the supply chain issues from a product perspective, and that they’re considering the environment, because there’s lots of environmental points.
Yeah, I bet.
And so when you’re a remote-based company, some of the stuff that you can get credit for, you know, do you consider recycling in your office? Like other things facility based companies can get? Right. I hate to say it’s a disadvantage. It’s just different. I think if you’re a service company, you should lean heavy into the employee stuff. Makes sense because that’s so much of your company. That’s so much of your substance, of everything you do.
Right, that is your output, is your employees’ knowledge going into the product you’re delivering, I guess.
But that’s the lift too, Randy. From my perspective, it’s like we’re always asking what are other people doing to offer the perks to their employees to do whatever—we go and see. Because there’s a checklist like, oh, you get this many points for doing this and this: 401(k), health, all the different things, and then we start seeing what people are doing out there. It’s almost like brainstorming the checklist. It’s worth looking at the checklist if you’re struggling with a policy, even if you’re not a B Corp and seeing what policies are in place or what policy they prioritize because they weight them. So you can kind of get a sense for what people are kind of prioritizing for you, like what they see other people doing and in impact.
There’s just a lot of kind of side benefits we didn’t really expect because we thought we’re just like, oh, this just sounds like us when we started to like, oh, we really should have this policy, right?
No, for sure. Alright, so I have one final question before I want to wrap up on the B Corp information. And then I do want to go on a tangent on a couple other things because that’s what we do on the show. And so we’ll go on another tangent. But before we do that, let’s wrap up the B Corp conversation. And you’ve just made it more intriguing to me. We brought in our first full time HR person last year, the end of last year. And so I’m going to reach out to her after this and start having the conversation about, is this something we should start looking at? I talked to our CFO this morning already about it, saying, hey, this is something we really need to look at. So we’re starting that investigation. So I’m going to do that.
But if there’s anybody else out there that’s considering this, if they’ve maybe heard about for the first time now, or they have it in the back of their mind, they’ve heard that Patagonia is a B Corp, and what’s that mean? What would you say—and it sounds like you mentioned them already, but what are the biggest challenges and then opportunities that the process presented to you that they should be aware of?
I mean, well, if you’re interested in it, I would go hyper local with it as far as finding people in your local community that do this. So B Labs is kind of the big parent company that does stuff, but there’s chapters somewhere close to you where there’s people that help with implementations. They’re just really, really helpful. So if you’re looking for information, I would start there.
If you’re really kind of next level on it and you’re trying to decide whether that’s worth the effort, I would say it is a differentiator for accounting firms for the most part on the employee side. And with so many employees looking for more than money now—more than money, and really establishing purpose—this is a thing that you could do if you’re aligned with it, to demonstrate a commitment to purpose. And it’s kind of like putting your money where your mouth is. We go through a freaking audit now every three years. We went through this process a year, of evaluating our company and making sure we’re looking at best practices. And we did it primarily to make sure we’re doing what everybody’s supposed to be doing for their employees. So if that resonates with you and you’re on the fence, I would really suggest going through the evaluation phase. But if we didn’t have somebody that was kind of guiding us through it, that was already implementing it—and we used local Georgia folks here—that made all the difference for us on staying on it and making sure we kind of figured out what we didn’t know and they were able to help us say, oh, this is what helped me, and this is what helped kind of guided us through all the nuances of certification.
Alright, awesome. And I will point out, I mentioned John Sensiba, I think their firm actually has a service where they help people through this process now, too.
Yeah, it’s really common. I would get somebody local to you. The community is just hyper local, kind of gets it. You can look at the B Corp website. I’m sure that you can see which one’s certified. You definitely want to use an implementer that’s certified.
That makes sense. Certification is probably important. Alright, so I want to pivot now. There’s two other things that you do that I always find really interesting. That’s a wrap. Wrap on the B Corp. Now we will go—not Scott Scarano rap—just us wrapping it up on the B Corp.
Yeah, we will not rap.
No, we won’t. First, I want to ask you about these capital for startups, angel—
Angel? Yeah, angel investing. Because we focused, our little niche was, I’m TheTechCPA, right? So our niche at Acuity for the first five years was primarily technology based companies. So one of the private equity guys came to me about six or seven years ago and was like, hey, how come you guys don’t angel invest? Like, you get to see all the coolest companies in the southeast? You could just put in money and do whatever. And so Kenji and I decided, oh, what the heck? So we now have Acuity Invest, which is our investing arm. We’ve made 17 angel investments. We put in $10,000 here, $20,000 here. It just depends on the company. But that led us into getting about our fourth or fifth investment. We’re like, oh, we should learn about this stuff, as opposed to being stupid and throwing away money. But now we run two angel groups. We run Atlanta Technology Angels, and we run the Atlanta chapter of VentureSouth. And Atlanta Technology Angels specializes in investing, like between $100-300k in a deal, and VentureSouth ends up writing checks closer from $300 to $500,000. And they do it both by getting a bunch of people together that are writing $2,500 to say $50,000 checks, and then aggregating the money and investing into companies. So that’s really fun and really keeps us interested and engaged in something new.
Yeah, well, and probably brings in new clients, too, I assume.
I think it’s been more the opposite—we’ve invested in clients because due diligence is one of the key things that demonstrates returns. Actually, we have gotten one client out of it. We made the investment through Atlanta Technology Angels, and they ended up becoming a customer. So that was really exciting. But actually, we’ve done it well, on paper, at least. On cash on cash, we’re about a push right now, but we have 16 of the investments are active. Of the 17, only one went to zero.
And two have partially liquidated it enough to return all the money we’ve invested. So we’ve been really fortunate, and then we have some hopeful, great outcomes, and those two partial investments will continue to pay off.
Alright, well, the next thing I want to talk to you about is this software that you’re involved in and you’re the CEO. Was it VERIFYiQ? Did this come out of that? Or what is VERIFYiQ?
This did come out of that. So we made an angel investment in the company called VERIFYiQ. We were one of their first customers at Acuity. They were building our quality control system about two years ago—the management team, they had gotten it up to about 20 customers, and they were like, look, this is too slow of a growth kind of thing for us. We’re going to shut it and stuff like that. So we said, don’t shut it, we’ll buy it. So Kenji and I, and AcuityInvest made an offer, and then the CTO and the lead developer there said, hey, we’re not done, we’d love to come in. So we each went a third in on it, and we recapped the company, which is not a good outcome for the rest of the investors, but nobody else wanted to keep going.
So we recapped the company and we pivoted in a different direction. So we’ve kind of added to the quality control, but we just released a tool called Sales IQ that people will be able to buy, probably around May (2023). Sales IQ helps people during the prospecting. Quality control is like helping manage your quality control process for the CAS department, right? So if your bookkeepers do a self review and it gives them a quantitative score between zero and 100, you can set thresholds as the firm, and then the reviewer doesn’t look at it, really, until the bookkeeper is done with it. So the bookkeeper will find 80% of their most common errors in it. And that’s a great tool. There’s some other good competitors out there that have done something similar.
Our unique ability is we’ve also made a Sales IQ product, which will enable this during the sales process. So what we found in our own business is it was really difficult to correctly scope prospects out of the gate. So this allows them to use our quality control engine, and in two minutes you can get trailing twelve months revenue, you can get number of bills, number of transactions, number of invoices, number of systems connected, number of bank accounts, number of credit cards. I can’t tell you how many times, Randy, our sales team is like, “We didn’t know they had a PayPal account. We promise! We didn’t know they had another Stripe integration. We didn’t know they had this.”
And we have a very productized pricing set at Acuity, so this was really important to us, and it has eliminated our salesperson who’s using it. He’s one of the beta testers. We have four existing—you can actually use Sales IQ if you’re a VERIFYiQ customer right now. But four of our customers are beta testing it and they’re shortening their sales cycle because the experience in the sales process for our salesperson was he would go through this great conversation about their business and all that kind of stuff, and then he’d ask to ask him, hey, how many bills do you send? And ours are the small market, and it’s like you’re talking to the CEO, right? How many bills do I? How many transactions? How many credit card transactions do I have? And now the experience is, go to this website, click here, connect your thing, it’ll disconnect from QuickBooks automatically, like at the end, and then the sales team gets all the data. Here’s the volumes, everything they need to price it.
So it just goes into QuickBooks or Xero, whoever, it goes in, it connects, it pulls down all the data that’s been running through the account, and then you have… Is that how it works?
Yeah! It’s the same exact thing we had built for the quality control. The original product is just the quality control product. We just added just a little interface where it could spit out a similar interface and get the data to people kind of instantly. So our salesperson is able to follow up within hours with an appropriate quote. That’s holding up the onboarding much more consistently. It’s nothing worse from a client experience than getting into onboarding, and then you’re changing the price on them.
So that’s really been exciting. And people say, what’s unique about VERIFYiQ? Well, we’ve been working on this for a bit because we want to make this a practice management tool and not just a quality control tool. And this is where people see, oh, there’s nobody really doing that, right? There’s nobody really helping you in the prospect cycle. If you go to our website at Acuity.co, you can actually do the financial health scorecard tab. There’s like a “Get Scored” button and you click on that and you can see the video, but then you can actually go get scored.
And it’s really the interface from our quality control. It just gets a bunch of information to our salespeople. So it’s really cool, so I’m really excited about that. We just got accepted at VERIFYiQ into the AICPA Startup Accelerator. So that’s really great program that the AICPA puts on. I think there’s five of us in the cohort this time. So if you want to see us, we’ll be at Engage and Digital CPA. We’ll be showing off all of our stuff there, so definitely do that. It’s been great for Acuity, so I hope the other firms start seeing the benefit as well.
I’ll be at Engage—well, I haven’t talked about Digital CPA, but Engage, I’ll see you there. I’ll take a look at it there.
Yeah! I’m going to be at a session at Engage. We’ll do a demo with all the new technologies. Each of us will do our bit and then we’ll have a booth. You can see all of the startup showcase companies there from the Accelerator, from the AICPA Accelerator. It’s great.
Nice. Okay, well, I’ll go on stage and help you because that’s what I like.
That would be great, Randy. I always appreciate you being in there and giving my ear. It’s kind of like how much Kenji appreciates me talking **** about him.
Uh oh, we got a bleep!
Oh, bleep that, bleep that. Sorry.
That’s alright. Alright, so we need to start wrapping up because I have a call in six minutes. So you’ve been on before—the first time you were on, we probably went over this question. I don’t remember your answer, so I’m going to ask it again. We’ve been talking work, we’ve been talking B Corp, which is very exciting. We’ve been talking about all this stuff and what you do in your accounting firm. But when you’re not doing accounting type stuff, what’s your passions outside of work?
Oh, my passions outside of work. I mean, the most random one is I raise chickens, and I live in the middle of Atlanta, the city of Atlanta. So I have ten—down one chicken—but I have ten Black Australorp chickens. And so I’m really popular with people when they need eggs. All of my friends go to me when they need eggs, so it’s kind of nice to be a good neighbor and have eggs. I think that’s as random as you need, probably, right?
No, that’s fine. But what about the noise? Are you far enough away that people aren’t hearing, like, a rooster at 5am?
No, we don’t have a rooster.
That was the deal with the chickens. But it’s in the side yard, so we have great neighbors that tend to not mind usually, except for one fly incident, which, if you raise chickens, they’re just disgusting. Like, the neighbors have not been impacted, except for the fly incident of 2021.
Alright, well, I’m gonna be in town, I think, as early as April. I might have to come over and have a fried egg or something at your house.
That would be great, dude. You’ll be able to see the majesty that is the basement here, the office.
The beauty of remote companies. This is my house, man.
Well, I’m in my upstairs, used to be my niece’s bedroom up here, and it’s now my office, so it’s kind of nice. It’s quiet. My wife took the downstairs office, and so when the doorbell rings, she gets that and I can still sit up here and record.
Alright, one last thing, then. If people want to find out more about you, or Acuity or B Corps, or TheTechCPA, where should they go to find out more information?
Yeah, I mean, TheTechCPA is what my Twitter handle is, what my LinkedIn handle is. If you want to learn more about Acuity—Acuity.co. Just remember we’re too cheap for the m at the end. So Acuity.co, you can go see anything, and we’re on all the socials for Acuity also. We have Twitter, TikTok even, if it’s not banned in your state by the time this recording comes out.
YouTube, all the fun stuff.
And you yourself actually do a lot of video recording—I see you put it out there on social media. You’re the video guy.
I’m the face of the franchise, man. I’m the only one that’ll get in the shirt with a shark bite out of them.
I saw that!
And make a total fool of themselves. That’s me. Once a month, I record.
That’s my role too, in the business. Alright, that’s nice. Well, again, really appreciate you sharing the information. All three things we talked about today: The B Corp, obviously extremely important, but VERIFYiQ I’m going to find out more about that when I’m at Engage, so I’ll look for that as well.
Sounds like a plan. Thanks for having me, man.
About the Guest
Matthew May is the co-founder and VP of Sales and Marketing at Acuity, a virtual accounting solution for entrepreneurs backed by the expertise of CFOs, as well as the CEO of VERIFYiQ. Matthew works to translate accounting for entrepreneurs, by helping navigate tax and accounting rules and speaking the language of entrepreneurs instead of the language of accounting.
Matthew has a great deal of experience with cryptocurrency and blockchain, and he runs the sales and marketing teams at Acuity. Launched in 2013, Acuity also released a process-based, remote accounting solution, offered at guaranteed fixed monthly pricing, and built on the latest accounting technologies, financial best practices, and the support of accounting experts.
Matthew volunteers in the Georgia technology community and serves on the board of the Atlanta Technology Angels, as well as the Venture Atlanta Advisory Board. He earned his BBA in Accounting from Baylor University in 1997 and is a Certified Public Accountant in Georgia.
Meet the Host
Randy Crabtree, CPA
Randy Crabtree, co-founder and partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals, is a widely followed author, lecturer and podcast host for the accounting profession.
Since 2019, he has hosted the bi-weekly “The Unique CPA,” podcast, which ranks among the world’s 5% most popular programs (Source: Listen Score). You can find articles from Randy in Accounting Today’s Voices column, the AICPA Tax Adviser (Tax-saving opportunities for the housing and construction industries) and he is a regular presenter at conferences and virtual training events hosted by CPAmerica, Prime Global, Leading Edge Alliance (LEA), Allinial Global and several state CPA societies. Crabtree also provides continuing professional education to top 100 CPA firms across the country.
Schaumberg, Illinois-based Tri-Merit is a niche professional services firm that specializes in helping CPAs and their clients benefit from R&D tax credits, cost segregation, the energy efficient commercial buildings deduction (179D), the energy efficient home credit (45L) and the employee retention credit (ERC).
Prior to joining Tri-Merit, Crabtree was managing partner of a CPA firm in the greater Chicago area. He has more than 30 years of public accounting and tax consulting experience in a wide variety of industries, and has worked closely with top executives to help them optimize their tax planning strategies.