Glastonbury-based independent accounting firm Fiondella, Milone & LaSaracina provides many services to startups and entrepreneurs throughout Connecticut in all stages of growth. The firm told Innovation Destination Hartford about its services and involvement with the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

FIONDELLA, MILONE & LASARACINA: Since it was founded 15 years ago, FML has supported the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Connecticut. It starts with an area of practice within the firm dedicated to understanding the assurance, tax, and advisory needs of early-stage and growth companies, which is led by Frank Milone.

FML also supports various initiatives/programs throughout the state that are vital to fostering this ecosystem, including Crossroads Venture Group (CVG), the Connecticut Technology Council (CTC), Connecticut Innovations, , BioCT (formerly CURE), reSET, and the MIT Enterprise Forum of Connecticut.

In addition, FML supports a variety of programs coming out of the universities here in Connecticut including the University of Connecticut Technology Incubator Program (TIP), the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI), the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CCEI), and UConn’s Innovation Quest.

INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: There’s a lot of innovation happening in the biotech space. Tell us more about your collaboration with the UConn TIP and BioCT.

FML: We have collaborated with the UConn TIP program for several years and recently became a lead sponsor of that program. We are also a member of BioCT and a founding sponsor of the BioCT Innovation Commons.

FML supports the UConn TIP and BioCT in many ways, including having office hours at each location where companies can access our accounting and tax experts for pro-bono advice. We’ve also had our experts present for C-level executives at member companies to enhance their knowledge in areas such as the Connecticut research and development tax credit and grant accounting and compliance. And, if we need to be engaged more formally in certain areas, we will offer our services at discounted rates.

The overall goal of the collaborations is to provide a support network for early stage companies. We want to give them access to accounting and tax experts at the earliest level of development so they are aware of the opportunities Connecticut has to assist them in their growth and help them make informed decisions with a focus on long-term goals and success.

IDH: What types of services does FML offer startups and entrepreneurs?

FML: We assist startups and entrepreneurs throughout their growth cycle from formation to successful exit. For example, FML provides education and advice about the pros and cons of the different types of entities available upon formation (partnerships versus C-corps). We also offer advice or assistance with the basics surrounding accounting services (bookkeeping, payroll, tax filings, etc.). And, we can assist with grant accounting/compliance and help startups and entrepreneurs understand the basics surrounding accounting and tax considerations for debt and equity financing arrangements and stock/option compensation plans.

FML also helps startups and entrepreneurs throughout the growth cycle with tax compliance needs and assurance-related services (audits/reviews, etc.), and we continue to advise them in more technical areas, such as the impact of accounting for different revenue models, understanding the federal and state research and development credits, and accounting and reporting requirements regarding sales tax.

In addition, we play a key role advising a company when it is planning and executing an exit strategy, whether a merger and acquisition transaction or entry into the public markets.

IDH: What do you enjoy most about working with startups and entrepreneurs?

FML: We enjoy sharing our knowledge and expertise, building relationships, and becoming a valued provider of services into successful companies in the thriving growth ecosystem here in Connecticut.

IDH: Does anyone on the FML team have personal experience launching a startup? How has that experience helped better position you to help others?

FML: The founding partners, Jeff Fiondella, Frank Milone, and Lisa LaSaracina, founded the firm after spending 10 years in a national accounting firm. The firm has grown to more than 60 people and nine partners over the past 15 years.

The experience of founding the firm has exposed many of us at FML to issues our clients also face such as developing a business model, obtaining startup capital, developing a marketing plan, building IT and other infrastructure, and finding talent.

As we enter our 15th year, we continue to address issues that are similar to our growth clients, including expansion of services to address the changing needs of our clients, evaluating growth through acquisition, and determining how to further develop our management team to meet our strategic goals. All these experiences put us in a better position to understand our early-stage and growth clients and the issues they face daily.

IDH: Tell us about the importance of fostering entrepreneurship here in Connecticut.

FML: It is critically important for the future of Connecticut that we have a vibrant entrepreneur ecosystem here in the state that supports startups and growth companies. It has been proven that these companies are necessary to achieve job growth, maintain and attract the younger generations of talent in the state, and to foster investment into the overall Connecticut economy.

FML has taken a leadership role in this area with board or committee roles at CVG, CTC, BioCT, and MIT Enterprise Forum of Connecticut.

Frank Milone, Partner, Assurance & Advisory Services, is the chair of the Public Policy Committee of the CTC, which is currently focused on understanding the needs to of the technology community here in Connecticut and communicating those needs to the gubernatorial candidates.

Bill Claffey, Partner, State and Local Tax, has taken on a similar leadership role at BioCT. Bill heads the firm’s state and local tax practice with a primary focus on income tax, sales tax, and federal and state credits and incentives. Bill will be participating in the BioCT Policy Day at the State Capital to help legislators understand the tax issues important to those member companies.

Angel Li, Partner, Tax Services, has recently been appointed to the Board of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Connecticut.

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