#191 Rebuilding value after an administration with Oliver Lee, CFO at Flash Pack

#191 Rebuilding value after an administration with Oliver Lee

Oliver Lee, the CFO at Flash Pack, sits down with Kevin Appleby to discuss his career journey and the challenges of leading a travel start-up through the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion begins with Oliver’s background in public accounting and a previous start-up role that did not unfold as planned.

Oliver recounts Flash Pack’s impressive growth trajectory prior to the pandemic, scaling from inception to over $20 million in revenue within a few years. However, the onset of COVID-19 necessitated a shift to “survival mode,” entailing cost reductions and staff furloughs as bookings plummeted. The company ultimately entered administration in 2020, but the founders managed to repurchase the assets and relaunch the business in late 2021.

The conversation highlights the strategies employed by Oliver and his team to rebuild Flash Pack, with an emphasis on maintaining strong supplier relationships through transparency and communication. This approach successfully re-engaged 95% of their suppliers post-administration.

Oliver underscores the critical importance of securing funding, noting that an institutional investor’s capital injection was essential for the company’s relaunch and growth. The management team’s proven track record and reputation were pivotal in attracting this investment despite the challenges faced.

As the business transitioned from “wartime CFO” to a growth-focused “peacetime” strategy, Oliver discusses overcoming excessive risk aversion and embracing calculated risks to propel the company forward. Looking ahead, the episode explores substantial expansion opportunities, particularly in the US market, while addressing the scaling challenges such as investing in talent and building the necessary organizational structure to support growth.

Key topics covered include:

  • Oliver Lee’s career progression and challenges in the start-up world, including his experience as CFO at Flash Pack.
  • How Flash Pack, a solo travel company, adapted to market changes and survived the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The strategies used to rebuild the business after going into administration, with a focus on maintaining supplier relationships.
  • The importance of funding, management team reputation, and calculated risk-taking in driving growth for a start-up.
  • The transition from “wartime CFO” to “peacetime CFO” and the mindset shift required to focus on growth strategies.
  • Opportunities for expansion, particularly in the US market, and the scaling challenges faced by the business.
  • The role of people and talent management in driving the company’s growth and success.



  • 0:00:11 – Introduction of Kevin Appleby and Oliver Lee
  • 0:00:36 – Oliver Lee’s background and career history
  • 0:01:32 – Oliver Lee’s role at Flash Pack and the impact of COVID-19
  • 0:03:02 – Description of Flash Pack’s business model and target market
  • 0:05:12 – Challenges faced by the business during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 0:09:01 – The process of buying back the assets of the business after administration
  • 0:11:43 – Rebuilding the business and relaunching in November 2021
  • 0:14:10 – Securing funding for the relaunch and growth
  • 0:17:51 – Transitioning from “wartime CFO” to “peacetime CFO” and the mindset shift
  • 0:24:50 – Strategies for growth and expansion, particularly in the US market
  • 0:32:35 – Lessons learned about people and talent management
  • 0:35:38 – Oliver Lee’s vision for the future and scaling the business

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