Reflecting on Karbon X 2022, our first customer leaders summit

Stuart McLeodCo-Founder, Karbon
Stuart's headshot. He's wearing a white collared shirt, has graying hair, and the background is a blurry green and brown tree.

Our inaugural customer summit, Karbon X, kicked off in great style earlier this year in beautiful Lake Tahoe. It was three days of events, panels, awards, and of course, a generous amount of eating and drinking, designed to foster community and connection in the accounting industry. It was also an opportunity to gather some of our valued customers in one place with our team to reflect, learn from each other, and appreciate how far we’ve come. 

Accounting firms across the globe have shown a great deal of resilience over the last two years. They’ve been hard for everyone, but accountants have felt the strain from all sides. Over the course of the pandemic, you’ve had to play accountants, therapists, friends, and much more for your clients. So, Karbon X 2022 was a perfect opportunity to congratulate some of our customers—and by extension, the industry—on making it through an incredibly difficult period. 

And while you can catch up on Karbon X through our Karbon X 2022 Hub—I’d just like to share a few major takeaways and feelings from the experience. 

Feeling connected has never been so important

We wanted to put on the first Karbon X in 2020 for our five-year anniversary, but the pandemic had other ideas. There was frustration and disappointment every time we had to delay, but when it finally came to fruition, it felt all the more amazing to get everyone together.

In our earliest plans, Karbon X was going to be tiny—30 or 40 people—and very low-key. Our initial thoughts were: let’s put the first one on and work forward from there. We’re a company that works best starting small and doing things right. In reality, our first Karbon X ended up being much bigger than the event we’d first planned, but the feeling of closeness remained. 

Connection is at the forefront of everything we do at Karbon. Breaking down communication barriers is a big part of our function and mission. Hybrid and remote working brought challenges to collaboration at a rate no one anticipated, so staying connected and embracing openness has never been so important. 

Karbon X was a defining moment in our mission for connection. 

Seeing about 80 accounting industry leaders in the same room and feeling the love and kinship, watching ideas being shared and interesting discussions unfold—it was a huge moment of pride for me.

Seeing the event we all worked so hard for, for so long, actually happen—and for it to be successful—was really special.

And having such a large contingent of the Karbon team together was a rare, valuable opportunity to talk about alignment and reflect on how far we have come. 

Karbon is growing up

Karbon X felt like the beginning of a new chapter. Not to use the tired analogy of a proud father, but to look around, see the staff, the company, and the customers all having grown so much—seeing what everyone had achieved—I did feel enormously proud and fortunate to have been a part of it. I know that looking back five or ten years from now, the first Karbon X will be a very special moment in our history. 

I had the pleasure of introducing our new Chief Revenue Officer, Mary Delaney, who’ll be a huge factor in driving the growth of Karbon into the future. She has a rich background elevating companies to wonderful, new heights, and it will be a privilege to work with her to drive Karbon forward. 

And as good as it was to introduce new team members, Karbon X was also the perfect time to look back and appreciate the people who have made Karbon so special for the past eight years. 

Our team has tripled in size over the last year and those of you who were at Karbon X got to meet a good portion of the original team, those who worked so hard to get us to where we are today—the people who have made Karbon, Karbon. 

It was your chance to see—as I see—the care and dedication that goes into helping you all be the best firms you can be.  

Our customers are doing great things for the industry

But ultimately, Karbon X was about our customers: dedicated leaders raising the standard in the accounting industry. The firms that go further to help clients, understand the value of open, honest communication, and are committed to working hard for the best results.

Gary Bell from FLB Accountants, who was one of many customers who got on stage to share their stories, is a perfect example. He has a clear vision and strategy for his firm, and is always working to improve the outcomes for his clients. His firm has grown at a remarkable rate because he understands the principles that make a perfect accounting firm.

But it is not only FLB Accountants making waves. Many Karbon customers are very similar: they’re self-made, looking to optimize their practices, and love working with their clients. 

So many of our customers are at the forefront of advisory services, and the Practice Excellence Awards was an exciting way to acknowledge the great things they’re doing in the industry. It was the first time we’ve given out these awards, and it was a privilege to be able to call out those leaders who are doing so much. 

Karbon X and the future

Watching the industry change and grow into modernity is a real pleasure. Accountants are embracing technology, communication, and modern business practices, and we are all witnessing the industry transform for the better. 

Karbon X is just the first of what will be our annual customer leaders summit. Lake Tahoe played a beautiful and gracious host, and feelings of success, satisfaction, and excitement were in the air the whole weekend. It took perseverance to make Karbon X happen, but now we have the blueprint, you can bet we’ll be back bigger and better next year.

Stuart McLeod
Co-Founder, Karbon

Stuart started his first business 13 years ago and has had many successful ventures, including Paycycle, founded in 2009, which he sold to Xero in 2011. He then built the global Xero Payroll team that delivers payroll software across the US, AU, UK and NZ markets. In 2015, Stuart co-founded Karbon, and served as CEO until 2023. He remains an advisor, board member, and investor.

Stuart's headshot. He's wearing a white collared shirt, has graying hair, and the background is a blurry green and brown tree.

Subscribe to receive curated articles and free resources direct to your inbox.

You're subscribed. ️