In 2015, Michael Burdick and Dan Wywrot, who’d spent years working at large accounting firms, founded a startup — Paro — to deliver finance and accounting solutions to businesses through a network of freelance talent. They say they were inspired by the lack of flexibility in traditional accounting firms to choose which projects to work on — and when to work.
Paro’s investors concur.
Today, Paro announced that it raised $25 million in a Series C round led by Top Tier Capital Partners, bringing the startup’s total raised to $67 million. Madrona Venture Group, Revolution Ventures and Sierra Ventures also participated in what Paro CEO Anita Samojednik described as an up-round with “clean terms.”
Samojednik told TechCrunch that the cash will be put toward further developing Paro’s platform, expanding its customer base and general R&D.
“The overall goal of this round is to become the go-to resource for finance and accounting solutions and for businesses of all sizes, including enterprises,” Samojednik said. “Given the continued traction we have seen within our business, the ongoing embrace of remote work and the increasing need for flexible business solutions, now was the right time to raise and double down on our efforts to push our unique offering to more enterprises and the value we bring to businesses and experts.”
Paro’s platform uses algorithms to identify and recommend financial talent — e.g. accountants — to businesses. Customers can connect on-demand to accounting and finance experts, paying them only for the work that’s needed.
It’s essentially like Fiverr, but exclusively for accounting and financial work.
“Understanding new ways to manage capacity and retain talent is key,” Samojednik said. “One way to do that is by introducing alternative staffing methods that are flexible and dynamic. This can improve morale, reduce burnout, better address client demands and efficiently grow business.”
If you buy Samojednik’s sales pitch, Paro is the silver bullet that the accounting industry so desperately needs. Many certified public accountant firms experience average annual turnover rates upwards of 25%. According to one recent survey, 99% of CPAs admit to suffering from chronic workplace stress. Another finds that nearly two-thirds — 62% — of accountants feel underpaid, with 60% saying they feel under-compensated given their qualifications and level of experience.
But color me skeptical. There are always downsides to contract work — for starters, a lack of benefits. Then one wonders about the healthiness of the dynamic between salaried accountants and financial workers and freelancers.
We’ve asked Paro its pay rates and will update this article once we hear back.
In any case, for better or worse, customers appear to be embracing the Paro platform. The company says revenue has tripled since its Series B in Q3 2021 while average client spend has doubled. Meanwhile, freelancers on the platform are on track to bill over $1 million through Paro this year, the company claims.
“Paro’s technology streamlines processes for those in need of talent — like hiring managers — to precisely match their business needs with Paro experts based on the exact experience and skill sets required to best achieve organizational goals,” Samojednik said. “For experts, Paro’s platform provides experts the productivity tools and insights to optimize their growing business, from pricing to performance, customer relationship management to ROI.”