Update from the NSS Team

Update from the NSS Team…..

Last quarter of 2012 was a busy one for NSS. Some highlights here:

Blu Homes, Inc. makes beautiful green homes suitable for a wide range of residential, commercial and institutional buyers. Blu engaged NSS to provide them with  immediate and seamless interim CFO support during their executive search for a permanent hire. See Blu Homes’ endorsement.

The bakery that makes you feel good with its products and are free of additives and artificial ingredients. Swissbäkers engaged NSS’ services to drive project financing as well as to create the operating business systems to maintain control over growth and profitability as the business scales to new, much higher volumes.

New in 2013

NSS was assigned to work with 8 companies nationwide  through the Larta Institute. Five are through the NIH and three through TATRAC funding agencies.  The focus is to guide the companies towards commercialization with an investor presentation, an 18-month milestone plan and a Quad Chart.

Congratulations to Swissbäkers who was awarded one of the Matching Grant in Manufacturing. Last week, Swissbäkers moved into a very large baking/café facility and NSS is advising them on the plant layout and how to efficiently utilize their new footprint. Stay tuned for the grand opening of the Café!

CEO of NSS participates as Advisor in Larta NIH-CAP Life Sciences

Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions is participating in the life sciences Commercialization Assistance Program (NIH-CAP).  The program’s purpose is to support SBIR funded companies to commercialize.  The feedback sessions are by invitation-only and held in three cities nationwide and in Boston on Feb 3rd and 4th.  Boston will have 20 medical device, healthcare, biotech and pharmaceutical companies presenting.  This is Ms. Scheiber-Kurtz’s third year of mentoring early stage life sciences start-ups through this program.  For more information about the program go to www.larta.org

US Market Access: A Talk on Regulations and live Case Study on Swiss Medical Device Company

A Talk on Regulations and Certifications of Medical Devices for the US Market

Harsha Jattani will give a talk on the need to adapt when marketing themselves in either country. Key aspects on existing laws and legislation will be explored. Following the talk, a panel including Harsha Jattani, Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions and Robert Cunningham will lead the case study discussion of  RehaxOne, a Swiss medtech start-up, with Co-Founder Frederic LaSala present.

SwissNex Consulate of Switzerland in Boston is sponsoring this event on Monday, Nov 15, 2010

HIRE Tax Breaks Supporting the Recovery

By Lauriston Taylor, Controller Consultant, Next Stage Solutions, Inc. (NSS)


The IRS has implemented two new tax breaks under the HIRE (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act) program that will provide new incentives for employers to stimulate their staffing efforts.  Employers may qualify for the following two tax exemptions:

  1. Payroll tax: 6.2 percent payroll exemption of social security tax on wages, effective dates are 2 February 2010 through 31 December 2010.
  2. New Hire Retention credit: $1,000 per additional new worker that is retained for at least one year with no significant wage reductions during the later part of the year

Qualified Employees:

Those employees beginning employment after 3 February 2010 and before 1 January 2010 for a period of 60 days have been previously unemployed or worked 40 hours or less.  The following situations will qualify:

–  hiring a replacement for an existing position that has become vacant due to termination for cause or voluntary resignation

–  staffing of a new company and its initial staff

–  hiring for public colleges and universities


The staffing additions listed below will not qualify:

– State, local and federal positions

– House hold employers

– Independent contractors

– Employees who are related to the employer or who directly or indirectly own more than 50 percent of the business


The new hire should supply a signed Form W-11 and this should be kept on file for record keeping purposes.

Additional information:

For further details please refer to the IRS website

Form W-11 can be downloaded from this link

Reflections from the NSS CEO Workshop- Sept 21, 2010

The workshop was sponsored by NSS and hosted by WilmerHale Venture Group. The NSS CEO Workshop Series is intended for CEOs of revenue producing companies.

The board room was chuck full at the WilmerHale Venture Group office in Waltham. The invited speakers were Joan McArdle of Mass Resource Capital, Jane Braun of Silicon Valley Bank, Robin Lockwood of Flybridge Venture Partners and Christopher Mirabile of RacePoint Capital LLC.  The panel discussion was led by Lee Schindler of WilmerHale.

The focus was around changes in the funding arena and how that has affected each group.  We then opened it up to a dialogue with the CEOs.

Here are some interesting facets of this discussion (loosely defined by NSS):

  • Significant changes in activity around Angel Groups, almost a flip side between VC and Angel funding.
  • More syndications between Angels and VCs.  Angels are valuation centric.
  • Huge migration in the VC world and closing of funds from 800-900 down to 600-700 VC funds
  • Because of high multiples among some VCs,  Angels are filling some of that gap
  • With uncertainties in economy it has been hard for companies to commit to expansions
  • Lots of Re-Capitalizations are happening.  Good timing.  With lower interest rates it is advisable to reconsider a re-cap with the layers of debt and the different view from lenders a company may have.  Mass Capital Resources provides this type of re-cap with a 2-3yr interest only financing.  Mass Capital is currently doing deals in the $1M to $5M range and at an interest rate typically between 10% and 12%.
  • Companies are starting to invest again.  All agreed that they are seeing an uptick in business activities.
  • There is a huge Global push
  • More VCs give smaller checks
  • VC’s today are investing in companies that are capital efficient or not at all.
  • It’s more difficult to get investment in a product or services business than it is in a software business.
  • How do you get a highly leveraged company to an exit in today’s market?  Not really any differently.
  • How can an entrepreneur know how much money to raise?  Determine what the life of an investment is and then try to match it with the right investor.  For example, an investment of $500K to $2.5M over the life of the investment probably won’t be appealing to a typical VC.  Putting in $30M over the life of the investment would be more appealing.
  • How often do Angels and VC participate in similar events?  There are some forums when a mixture of investors is present.
  • How about grants as a way to get some funding?  That may be a good thing (it’s non-dilutive) as long as it fits your business strategy.  Do not lose focus.
  • Whether or not an angel or VC invests in the company depends in large part on how good the entrepreneur is.  “Can he/she do it?”
  • Best thing to do if you’re raising money – Don’t go around town asking for money.  Instead, spend your time building relationships with investment community, asking questions like “what would you do if you were me?”
  • M&A activity is picking up and deal flow is up

Our next CEO Workshop will be Tuesday, November 9 from 7:30am-9:30am and the topic will be around “Merger & Acquisitions”.  Save the date!

Interview with NSS team member – Steve Dance

Steve Dance is part of the NSS team.  He brings over 30 years of high level financial expertise in Life Sciences and High Tech. Steve has raised over $500MM in capital.

Most Satisfying: In your CFO work you have done in the past, what is the most satisfying feedback you got from the CEO?

That the CEO could always count on me to be calm and focused during a crisis.

Most Inventive: Given that as CFO we understand the importance of providing our clients with more than just accounting and financial reporting, share with us a project that truly made you a value creator.

The sale of one of my previous employers to a major biotechnology company was a complex process, with many potential obstacles arising during the negotiation and due diligence process.  As CFO, I was part of the negotiation team and provided the bulk of the due diligence materials.  I was responsible for resolving the many issues that came up during the sale process.  I believe I was able to establish a strong level of trust with the acquirer’s team and we were able to reach agreement on all the issues, and the sale was successfully concluded.

Most Positive: CFOs have different skill set, yet often we are viewed as one of the same.  Tell us a story where your actions made a powerful positive change and why.

I was CFO for a biotech company in California that had 300 employees, over 200 of whom were located in Europe, principally in Lyon, France, following a recent acquisition.  Since I speak French, I was able to establish good relations with the finance group in France, and ultimately the rest of the management team.  I played a key role in ensuring that the needs of the European team were met and consequently was appointed President of European Operations in addition to my CFO duties.  The good relationships that I built with the European organization also enabled me to negotiate successfully with the French labor union to avoid a workers’ strike that would have halted manufacturing.

Best Business Book: What should every CEO be reading going forward in this tepid economy?

The Wall Street Journal – still a great way even in this digital age to keep on top of what is happening in the business world.

Funniest Fact: Tell us something funny about you.

I was raised in Wimbledon, England and when I was a kid I used to go and watch the tennis at Wimbledon every year.  In those days the players used to walk through the crowds on their way to the courts.  One time I got too close to a player and he accidentally trod on my foot.  My foot was sore for days afterwards; the player won his match.

Interview with our new team member – Laurie Taylor!

Laurie Taylor joined the NSS team recently.  He has over 20 years of experience and has worked with multiple start-up as Controller. We are delighted to have him on board.

Most Satisfying: In your CONTROLLER work you have done in the past, what is the most satisfying feedback you got from the CEO?

Nineteen out of twenty client companies have offered me a full time position during the engagement.

Most Inventive: Given that as CONTROLLER we understand the importance of providing our clients with more than just accounting and financial reporting, share with us a project that truly made you a value creator.

I began a two person project to determine why a major bank’s ATM conversion had an out of balance total of $19M after the merger of the two banking systems.   The bank booked a 200k reserve to cover this reconciliation exposure.  I requested a Bank Tiger team to assist my current consulting team and at the end of the project we had completely reconciled the account and were only unable to account for $9k in bank funds.  We also discovered a major systems glitch that was the result of the systems merger and trained the banking staff to recognize the problem and how to correct the system if it occurred again.

Most Positive: CONTROLLER’s have different skill set, yet often we are viewed as one of the same.  Tell us a story where your actions made a powerful positive change and why.

I was assigned a project to take over for a Director of Finance at a specialized moving van company.  I first determined that there was a massive amount of misspending going on and no one was managing the AR accounts.  In 6 weeks we were able to make enough corrections that company was stable enough for sale to a much better funded and staffed regional carrier.  The sale of this business unit saved 250 staff member’s jobs as a result of the merger instead of a company closure due to prior management neglect.

Best Business Book: What should every CEO be reading going forward in this tepid economy?

The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win by
David Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich

Funniest Fact: Tell us something funny about you.

I am crazy about WWII aircraft that have massively supercharged engines that “go fast, stay low, and turn left!” also known as the National Championship Air Races held each fall in Reno, NV.  The only rules are that these planes must have a prop and straight wings.

Interview with our new team member – Mark Ott!

Mark Ott joined Next Stage Solutions this Spring.  Read on to see what Mark has been up to – he has a great story to tell!

Most Satisfying: In your CFO work you have done in the past, what is the most satisfying feedback you got from the CEO?

The most satisfying feedback I received is when the CEO told me that he knew he could spend a considerable amount of time out of the office (with customers, investors, board members, press, etc.) knowing that everything back at headquarters was being looked after with me looking after things.

Most Inventive: Given that as CFO we understand the importance of providing our clients with more than just accounting and financial reporting, share with us a project that truly made you a value creator.

When we moved a company from California to Massachusetts, I had to build a complete infrastructure pretty much from the ground up.  This included the recruitment/interviewing and engagement/hiring of new corporate attorneys, external auditors, Accounting Manager, Office Manager, and Human Resources Manager as well as establishing new banking relationships and corporate insurance programs.  All of this had to be done in a matter of three months.

Most Positive: CFOs have different skill set, yet often we are viewed as one of the same.  Tell us a story where your actions made a powerful positive change and why.

When I was European Controller for a large networking company, I had eight country controllers reporting to me.  Some of the countries (like the UK and Germany) were larger contributors to the results of the overall operation than others (like Spain and Sweden).  In that environment the controllers for the larger countries tended to be more influential in group decisions and the controllers for the smaller countries would sit back and complain that their needs were always overlooked because of their size.  This ultimately led to a team that did not work very well together and this was reinforced by pre-existing cultural differences.  One of the things I did to turn this around was to solicit ideas from the controllers concerning topics to be covered in an upcoming quarterly staff meeting.  When the time for the meeting came, I appointed the controller who suggested the topic as the leader of the discussion leader and subsequent action items.  This forced the smaller countries to play a much more active role in the group in identifying their issues and forced the larger countries to sit up and listen and help find solutions as they were cast in more of a “follower” role.  Following this pattern in subsequent staff meeting resulted in a much more cohesive pan-European staff.

Best Business Book: What should every CEO be reading going forward in this tepid economy?

“Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty:  The New Rules for Getting the Right Things Done in Difficult Times” by Ram Charan, McGraw-Hill.

Funniest Fact: Tell us something funny about you.

My fraternity brothers used to call me “Howard”, which is my middle name.  They thought that it was an “amusing” middle name, so they thought they could get me going if they kept calling me by that name.  It worked for a while but the nickname stuck throughout college and they will even use it today in those rare occasions when we get together.

Stay tuned for our next team member’s story!

Tax Credit and Grant Opportunity for Life Sciences Companies

Window of Opportunity | One Month!

Program Highlights:

  • Life Science companies with fewer than 250 FTEs eligible
  • Project expense years: 2009 and 2010
  • Maximum cash or credit amount: $5M
  • Multiple projects/applications can be submitted
  • Forms and Instructions are now available
  • Application decisions will be made within 30 days
  • Applications are due no later than 21 July 2010


One of the results of the Health Care Reform Bill was the appropriation of a poll of $1 Billion in tax credits or grants to support the costs of research by small and mid-size life sciences companies paid or incurred in 2009 and 2010. This program is advantageous for companies without income tax liability.

Subject to some exceptions, the QTDP (Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project) credit or grant is available to any business with 250 or fewer employees at the time the application is submitted. No applicant will be allocated more than $5 million in QTDP tax credits or cash grants and because of the wide open application process most winning projects will receive less than the requested amount and completion is expected to be very intense.

Applicants will choose between the tax credit and cash grant during the application process.

The final deadline for application submission is 21 July 2010 and submissions after this date will not be considered.

Application Process and Selection Criteria

Life sciences companies must apply to the Treasury Department for an allocation from this incentive pool using IRS Form 8942. The Treasury will approve or deny applications within 30 days of submission.

A QTDP is a project designed to achieve any of the following objectives:

  • To treat or prevent diseases or conditions by conducting pre-clinical activities, clinical trials, and clinical studies, or carrying out research protocols, for the purpose of securing approval of a product by the Food & Drug Administration or Public Health Service,
  • To diagnose diseases or conditions or to determine molecular factors related to diseases or conditions by developing molecular diagnostics to guide therapeutic decisions, or
  • To develop a product, process, or technology to further the delivery or administration of therapeutics.

In addition to the life science component of the selection process the financial impact of the QTDP will be reviewed to determine which submissions will likely:

  • create and sustain (directly or indirectly) “high-quality, high-paying” jobs in the U.S., and
  • advance U.S. competitiveness in the fields of life, biological, and medical sciences.

The following entities are not eligible for this program:

  • Foreign businesses unless more than 50% of their income from the relevant project is subject to U.S. federal income tax,
  • Federal, state, or local governments,
  • Tax-exempt organizations,
  • Partnerships or
  • Other pass-through entities.

Additionally, the following are not eligible project expenses: CEO and other officer’s compensation, interest expense, facility maintenance expenses, service costs or such costs as determined by the IRS.

The QTDP credits and grants are subject to recapture if the patents or other resulting property are transferred within five years.

An applicant must complete a separate IRS Form 8942 for each QTDP for which it is seeking a QTDP tax credit or cash grant and this form is due for release 18 June 2010.

The following is a summary of the QTDP Credit Project Credit established in by the Health Care Reform and by IRS Notice 2010-45.  Interested applicants should thoroughly review IRS instructions and form 8942.

Please feel free to contact Lauriston Taylor at Next Stage Solutions; if we may assist you in any way.

Lauriston Taylor, Controller Consultant

o:  617. 449.7728, x-712

c:  978. 397.6412

f:   978. 339.5202

The GPS of Finance