Waseem Daher is a three-time founder, currently CEO of Pilot, providing the most reliable accounting, CFO, and tax services for startups and small businesses.
Waseem previously founded Ksplice, a company that provided software updates without rebooting, which was acquired by Oracle in 2011. He subsequently founded Zulip, a group chat tool for businesses, which was acquired by Dropbox in 2014.
He studied computer science at MIT.
You started your startup because there’s something you’re excited to bring into the world: a product you want to make or a service you want to provide, and you’re excited to devote your energy to making that happen.
What you probably didn’t realize is that there’s also a bunch of stuff you have to do that no one really tells you about: all of the essential back-office-y things you need to do to have a real company.
I know this challenge well, having founded three companies myself. Running the back office in these companies was a huge pain—it was never clear who to turn to, or how to access the expertise needed to do it ourselves. For whatever reason, a lot of this information is passed down via oral tradition: you have to ask someone who already knows how to do it.
My cofounders and I benefited a great deal from the wisdom and expertise of our mentors, investors, and our networks, and we hope to pay it forward with this guide: a manual for running your back office, laser-focused on specific, tactical, actionable advice on things like how to incorporate your business, whether you need worker’s comp, when to file taxes, what an 83b is, and much more.
Think of this guide as a reference book: you don’t need to read it from start to finish. Instead, refer to the sections you find most relevant and return to other parts as needed. We've structured the guide to be largely chronological, and at the end of each chapter, we've included insights gleaned from our conversations with industry experts.
Finally: this guide is a living document and benefits from your feedback, so if you have questions, comments, errata, or just something you think we should know, please email me at email@example.com.
I’m a three-time startup founder and startup finance enthusiast—but I’m not a lawyer, financial advisor, CPA, or tax preparer. This book is not legal advice, financial advice, or tax advice and isn’t meant as a substitute for consulting your own qualified advisors. This book is being built over time, so it’s not comprehensive and may not be up-to-date on all topics. This book is provided AS-IS.
This book mentions products offered by Pilot.com and others. Use of third-party company/product names is for reference only and does not mean that they sponsor, approve or endorse this book, the author or Pilot.com.
In parts of this book, we mention various service providers or vendors. Our top priority is helping companies set up great systems that serve them well, and that’s what informs who we mention or recommend. It’s important to know that we have business relationships with many of these providers, but we wouldn’t have pursued these business relationships or chosen to recommend these providers if we didn’t think that they were great.
In particular: the founders of Gusto, Stripe, and Carta are investors in Pilot. We participate in partner programs offered by Expensify and Bill.com that allow us to provide discounts on these products to our customers. We participate in partner programs offered by Gusto, Rippling, Brex, Ramp, and Intuit that (1) allow us to provide better support to our customers who use these providers and (2) provide incentives to us for referring companies to these providers. We participate in an Intuit partner program which we use to pay for Quickbooks Online for customers that purchase it through us.
If you would like to contribute to the contents of this book or provide feedback about it, I’d be delighted to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. By submitting a contribution or feedback, you permit Pilot.com, Inc. (and sublicensensee(s), if any) to use, copy, modify, publish, perform, distribute and create derivative works of it without compensation. I will try to attribute contributions that make it into the book to their source (if you let me know who you are), although depending on their number or volume I may not be able to do so consistently. Please submit only your own content/ideas; we don’t want to get in trouble for using someone else’s without permission.
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