As any CFO can attest, corporate finance is extraordinarily complicated. From tax preparation to financial controls, estimating cash flows and more, the finance department of any large business often needs to perform sophisticated analysis with extreme attention to detail – and quickly.
Most of the time, companies outsource at least some of these financial functions to the Big Four or smaller firms, but like all consulting firms, signing contracts and work in progress can take a lot of time and effort.
This is where Paro comes in. The Chicago-based Expert Marketplace aims to provide on-demand, sophisticated expertise to corporate clients across a range of financial functions.
The company announced today that it has raised $ 10 million in Series “A” venture capital led by Mark Fernandes of Sierra Ventures. Existing investors Revolution Ventures, KGC Capital and Tom Williams also participated.
When we last checked in with Paro 18 months ago, he had just raised a $ 5 million Series A from Clara Sieg at Revolution. The company said it is now retrospectively doubling that “AA” series round, as the size of the towers has grown “exponentially.” Since then, the market has grown steadily and CEO and co-founder Michael Burdick said the company is increasingly focusing on the types of customers that best match the platform’s offerings.
“The cognitive load is huge,” Burdick told companies trying to find this talent in existing markets. “You post project descriptions, you go through all these mountains of unfiltered proposals, you have to shortlist candidates. This often brings CFOs back to the incumbent accounting firms because they are much more plug-and-play.
Paro has taken a different tack, focusing instead on recruiting and retaining the highest quality financial talent in its market. The company has developed and continues to improve tools to help market experts focus on the work that makes them unique rather than the drudgery that may be part of their job. We “automate a lot of their back-office functions [and] by giving them workflow automation tools to make them more productive and efficient and earn more, ”said Burdick. He dubbed it the “independent operating system”.
Sieg of Revolution also noted that the pursuit of quality has benefited Paro’s results. “Unlike a consultancy contract, where it’s a one-off analysis and sort of a lumpy commitment, you need monthly financial data, you need annual tax returns, you need financial work. ‘audit, and so these are really ongoing relationships, ”she said. This “takes us away from some of the informal issues you’ve seen in the labor market, namely really high customer acquisition costs, relatively low take-up rates, and low recurring business.”
As Paro evolves, Burdick sees an opportunity to leverage the effects of the company’s data network to create a wedge around his business. “There is inherently a wealth of data at our fingertips that we tap into, giving back to freelancers and clients,” he said.
Online labor markets targeting business functions have grown in popularity dramatically in recent years, with companies like Pilot raising large amounts of venture capital. Burdick says Paro differentiates itself from accounting departments like Pilot by focusing on elite financial talent, which ultimately leads to higher margins.
The company intends to use the capital to continue to develop its products and sales teams.
Update: Modification of series B to series A and series A to series AA at the request of Paro.