5 minutes with… Steven Petersen, co-founder of Stavtar Solutions
The Drawdown (TDD): Can you tell me a bit about Stavtar and how it was formed?
Steven Petersen (SP): Stavtar comes from a combination of my name and Avtar Batth, who is the other co-founder. We met while I was working at TPG Axon in 2005, who at the time was head of global application development. I served as global controller to start with and then was promoted to CFO.
When I later joined Hudson Bay Capital as CFO, I had lots of conversations with senior leadership about building a central data point to see and run the business across the enterprise. It was there where I pitched the idea to build the technology that sits above all other technologies, capturing, housing and managing vendors, contracts and invoices.
My boss loved my idea of automating and digitalising organisational data to report across the entire enterprise. As we didn’t have the resources internally to do that, I pitched for an ‘outside business interest’ approval to go and develop this software with my former colleague, Avtar.
My outside business interest request was approved and we launched with three funds in 2019, reaching 10 clients in 2021. It was then that I decided to resign from my role as CFO at Hudson Bay, to commit 100% to the business’s development. We now have more than 50 licences sold and we are excited about what 2023 will bring.
TDD: What kind of products and services do you offer to fund managers?
SP: Stavpay was the first solution that we rolled out and it’s our primary product. Stavpay sits above all other technology and captures, houses and manages vendors, contracts and invoices. It gives you the ability to allocate expenses in unlimited ways and layers, using any attribute. Then after it is approved using your customised workflows, it integrates downstream for automatic booking to your general ledgers, banks, wire platform, fund administrators and any other relevant third-party. Its modules provide management of your accruals, real-time budget to actual reporting, automation of legal entity reimbursements, and provides an interface to your lawyers to manage and communicate allocations for each line item of a legal invoice directly into the system.
Stavorg, another of our services, is catered towards combining legal entity data through an automated approach. This means GPs can create legal entities and store all the related metadata easily. All your organisational data including descriptions, why the entity was created, tax IDs, tax jurisdiction locations, tax return dates and anything else you might need can be stored in one place.
In my experience, I have come across countless Excel spreadsheets with more than 100 different legal entities and the metadata around that information. Stavorg aims to combat that and organise data more efficiently.
Finally, we have Stavtask, which is currently in the pipeline. It will be a product focusing on all different types of workflows. We hope it will be business process management software that allows all tasks within any type of process to be owned, reviewed, approved and monitored.
TDD: What sets you apart from other software providers that outsource CTO functions?
SP: I like to think of Stavtar as a digital worker. By this, I mean the system is built to automatically process the information from an invoice, take out the important parts and then allocate that within the system before sending it back to the client. It really turns the users’ process into an email into the system, and then hitting approval or reject buttons accordingly. I think that that is the big difference.
The system comes with people's time as well. We call it our business process operations team. While the product will do 90% of the work in an automated way, the base licence includes 20 hours a month of the operations team’s time as well. So, if there's anything that needs to be done by a human, they can become an extension of the GPs and team, both on the accounting side and as an extension of the technology team as well.
TDD: What are some key objectives for the year ahead?
SP: One of our main objectives is to do with vendor connectivity. Currently, we have roughly 12 to 13,000 unique vendors, based on our clients, who they're paying and who they're working with. What we ultimately would like to do is reach out to vendors and give them the ability to actually enter data into Stavpay and to provide data to our clients, such as tax documents or due diligence questionnaires. Now that we have established our client base, we would like to reach out to vendors and have them come work directly within Stavpay to communicate within our community.
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