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James Rohrbach, Fluent City

Founder: James Rohrbach, CEO

Company: Fluent City

Employees: 51-250

Stage: Series A


Fluent City teaches transformative cultural skills via a unique and fresh approach to classroom learning. The company is redefining liberal arts for the 21st century, offering classes, events and adventures involving foreign languages, art, food and drink.

About James Rohrbach

James is an entrepreneur working at the intersection of education, technology and culture. Prior educational initiatives have included founding GulliverGo and Semester Online, 2U’s undergraduate program, and serving as chief product officer for Noodle Education. James now sits in the CEO seat at Fluent City.

You outsource your accounting work. Why did you decide to do this?

We use a back-office accounting firm called BackOps, a distributed team of accountants, and they’re absolutely indispensable to our business. We’ve developed a great relationship with our account manager who has been a good partner, and they’ve sorted through some messy historical data to build clean financial statements for us. I stand by them for any business that has revenue, manages P&L carefully and doesn’t have an in-house finance person. For startups that have raised $1 million and have a couple engineers, you don’t have to worry about outsourcing your accounting.

How much of a factor is cost as you look for new tools and services?

Cost is a HUGE factor. All of these expenses add up, and it’s really frustrating. I am acutely aware of every dollar we’re spending. Part of what I like about BackOps is that I’m consolidating three services (Quickbooks, Bill.comExpensify) into one. From an operational perspective, I would absolutely pay one fee for a whole toolkit of services, as opposed to paying individual fees for each service.

What are the tools you can’t live without, both for personal and for business?

Slack, particularly with its integrations with Twitter and Stripe, means that I can just go there and know everything that’s happening in the business, which is amazing. Also essential to my life, both personal and professional, is a cloud-based note-taking app–I just use the native notes app on my iPhone. That’s how I keep my entire life organized.

Is there any essential reading that you would recommend for founders and operators?

I would strongly recommend Jhana (jhanaeducation.com), which provides tons of articles and learning resources to help people become effective managers. It offers a very structured resource library of how to handle basic workplace issues. I find it incredibly helpful and valuable, both for me personally and for my team.

Are there any tools you’re interested in exploring but haven’t gotten around to yet?

I’m always interested in finding new tools that will help boost our productivity and efficiency. I’m looking forward to checking out Perch, which allows you to watch your competitors’ social media all in one place, and userSnap, which enables you to view a page and send notes out to a developer. I’m also really interested in Callr–it calls you before a conference call so you don’t miss appointments.

Follow James and Fluent City here: @jamesrohrbach@fluentcity

Want to learn what tools Fluent City is using?

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