Circle Innovation Gets Certified Accounting Expertise at a Fraction of the Cost

Circle Innovation Feature Image

Circle Innovation is a non-profit facilitator of technology solutions and innovation based in the Lower Mainland, Canada. Circle helps companies connect with consumers, tech providers and other stakeholders to solve R&D challenges, grow revenues, create jobs and develop emerging technologies. Founding members of Circle Innovation are Simon Fraser University, Canada’s leading university in research and innovation, as well as AGE-WELL Networks of Centers of Excellence, a Canada-wide system that connects over 250 community, industry, not-for-profit, academic and government partners to 42 university research centers to grow Canada’s technology businesses and generate innovative ideas.

To date, the organization has seen 20 digital technologies commercialized, more than $62M in new revenues for their partners, and over 160 jobs created or supported.

Tom Philpott

Tom Philpott, Chief Operating Officer at Circle Innovation, has to keep a lot of balls in the air. With a background in both public and private sectors, and in both established and startup companies, he brought a lot of experience to the table. Not only does he have deep experience in Health Sciences, but he also managed and created films in Hollywood early in his career. When Tom Joined Circle Innovation at about the time Covid started, the company’s CTO was doing the bookkeeping. Tom knew that they needed to make a change and inject stronger accounting expertise into the organization.

The Challenge

As is the case with so many organizations like Circle Innovation, they needed diverse accounting skills including Bookkeeping, Accounts Payable, and Payroll capabilities that they could trust and depend on, but didn’t need them full-time. 

Turnover and Skill Gaps

Circle Innovation cycled through a few accounting contractors who left the company for various reasons, and wanted to avoid the ongoing turnover going forward. On top of that, they recognized that they didn’t have internal accounting expertise to manage and oversee accounting staff and activities.

Accountability to Funders

As a Non-Profit Organization, Circle Innovation receives government funding for their programs, and partners with universities to round out their service offering. These affiliations mean that their accounting practices have to be accurate and transparent, so that they can produce reports to their funders and partners.

The Solution

Tom made the decision to outsource their accounting needs, and turned to Google to find different service options. Enkel was one of those options. After doing discovery calls with 3 different solution providers, Tom decided to work with Enkel. Established and proven systems and processes were what tipped the scale to Enkel winning the business. According to Tom,  “Enkel had established policies and procedures that I thought would provide the stability we needed. Pricing was fair for the different services provided and far cheaper than hiring and managing the skill sets in-house”.

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Gained Accounting Expertise

Tom wanted to have the profession of accounting represented in the business. Not unlike lawyers and engineers, he felt that this professional expertise was critical given their relationships with funders and universities. It was important to have that “stamp of approval” on their accounting outputs and be audit-ready when needed.

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Reduced Workload for Office Staff

Having Enkel managing their Bookkeeping, Payroll and AP, Circle Innovation was able to reduce the burden and responsibilities of their office manager who is not an accountant, and limit the oversight needed by other members of the leadership team.

Tom Philpott, Chief Operating Officer at Circle Innovation Photo
The great thing about Enkel is that they bring clear, proven processes and procedures to the table, yet they are still able to be flexible, accommodating and responsive to our needs that sometimes venture outside of those structured aspects of our day-to-day relationship.”
-   Tom Philpott, Chief Operating Officer at Circle Innovation

The Results

According to Tom, the highlights of working with Enkel are the well established procedures and process-driven approach, holistic payroll management including managing the relationship with Payworks, and accessibility to Enkel’s CEO Omar Visram who is very accessible and works closely with the team.

Today, Circle Innovation is saving money by not having to hire full time folks to manage bookkeeping, payroll, and accounts payable, is saving time by reducing the responsibilities of their office manager, and has certified accountants with specific NPO experience overseeing their accounting function and reporting. They get accurate, dependable accounting and financials, without the heavy cost of hiring a whole team of certified professionals.

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