Chris Fenster CEO & Founding Partner
Chris Fenster founded Propeller Industries in 2008 after realizing he could be a better early-stage CFO if he built a team specifically to deliver finance and accounting services to multiple companies, with a technology platform to manage and scale the work. Since then, Chris has served as consulting CFO to over 50 early-stage businesses in a wide range of industries. He has developed a deep appreciation for the value of pattern-recognition in a startup environment — every new client gets the benefit of 20 years of experience guiding dozens of companies through similar challenges.
Chris spent the 13 years prior to Propeller as a full-time CFO for four early-stage companies – an apparel manufacturer (Swobo Clothing), an ecommerce/wine club operator (Signature Wines), a beverage company (Bevology) and a non-profit that ran finance and accounting for 300+ other non-profits (Tides Center). One was sold, two others tanked, and along the way Chris learned a lot about both how to, as well as how NOT to, build a company.
Chris’ entrepreneurial passion took root in 1992, after leaving Peterson Consulting to get his hands dirty with some real world business experience. In this case his hands were actually dirty: he chose to join a small bike shop. After two years, Chris and his partner had built Start to Finish into one of the largest independent bicycle dealerships in the US, eventually selling to their largest supplier, Trek Bicycle Corp. Building an actual company was intoxicating. It was a good outcome, but they had no idea what they were doing: insane risks, nearly every mistake in the book. Success was the result of hard work, good luck and a great team of people – including the team of experts brought in to coach them past their blind spots.
Chris holds an A.B. in Economics and Political Science from Colgate University. He served on the board of Juma Ventures from 2008-2011 and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition from 2000-2008. Outside the office, Chris’s indoor time is spent in close proximity to his wife and two young sons. Outdoor time revolves around his other loves: cycling, skiing and photography. Chris loves food but will sheepishly admit to a 5:1 take-out to stovetop ratio.