Taking on the Big 4 accounting giants, Paro receives $5m for its labor marketplace for financial professionals


Image Credits: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Accounting and financial controls are some of the most important functions of a modern company, but they are also serious cost centers. Hiring a full-time bookkeeper can be prohibitively expensive, and it can be difficult to find financial analysts and part-time CFOs that a company’s leaders can trust. Companies rely on accounting firms to manage these processes, but firms are often slow and outdated in an internet age where everything is digital and flexible.

Chicago-based Paro wants to completely evolve the way the finance department of a company operates. Its platform allows companies to hire vetted financial professionals such as bookkeepers, accountants, CPAs, and CFOs on a part-time basis, so that they only pay for the services that they need. That added flexibility can mean that processing times can be shortened even while accuracy is increased and costs come down.

The startup announced today that Revolution Ventures, the firm started by ex-AOL founder Steve Case, is leading a $5 million Series A round into the company, with participation from Global Founders Capital and Tom Williams, a prolific venture investor. SF-based Revolution partner Clara Sieg led the investment.

Michael Burdick, the CEO and co-founder of Paro, explained that he learned the ridiculous economics of accounting firms while working his first job out of college at Deloitte. “I was pouring my blood, sweat, and tears into my client engagements,” he explained, but discovered through an engagement budget that “I was getting billed out at $250 plus per hour and my take home was around $30 per hour.” That difference astonished him. “It’s both impressive and infuriating as to the margins that accounting / consulting firms make on their front line staff,” he said.

One reason for that massive discrepancy is that companies aren’t hiring accounting firms just to perform the actual accounting work, but also because of the trust that each firm’s brand evinces. That brand safety has blocked the accounting industry from moving more heavily online or toward freelancing. Burdick, along with co-founder Dan Wywrot, started Paro in 2015 to try to close that gap.

Brand wasn’t the only gap that the company has confronted. Professionals in the financial and accounting world are “conservative,” Burdick explained, and prioritize career stability over risk. That has made building a flexible online labor marketplace for the industry challenging — how can you give up your comfortable firm job without knowing how much money you are going to make going forward? If there is one thing accountants can account for, it is their own paycheck.

To solve this other challenge, Burdick and Paro emphasized repeatedly to me that they are deeply focused on “income predictability” for professionals operating on the marketplace. One way the startup increases that predictability is by delivering client work directly to professionals on the platform, rather than creating a free-for-all marketplace. This also has the benefit of saving financial professionals significant time around selling their services, rather than doing actual accounting work.

Paro hopes its value shines though once it starts to match freelance financial professionals with companies. Financial work differs based on the type of a company (think large multinational versus a smaller SMB), and Paro tries to match each business with talent holding relevant experience. Burdick explained that “a successful track record of working with similarly-sized businesses is only one of an evolving set of criteria we take into account when finding the ideal match.”

The startup disclosed that it has had almost one thousand businesses use the platform to hire accounting talent, and it hopes that the data collected through these engagements can help it fine tune its matching algorithms over time.

Sieg, of Revolution, said that she invested in the company because of its focus on disrupting such a large industry as accounting. Using technology and matchmaking algorithms, “Paro is thereby able to avoid the tremendous inefficiencies that come from large, brick-and-mortar professional services organizations burdened by high partnership and overhead expenses, providing freelancers with higher earnings and clients with significant cost savings,” Sieg said.

Burdick intends to use the funding to expand sales and marketing, as well as continue to improve predictive analytics around future income streams for its workers. “Part of the goal is to educate businesses that there is a much better alternative for any finance and accounting business need out there than the antiquated ways of the accounting world,” he said.

Eddie Lou, the executive chairman of Shiftgig, also sits on Paro’s board.

More TechCrunch


Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo