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Our Investment in Paro – Building a Marketplace for Finance Professionals

AUTHORS: Hope Cochran and Elisa La Cava | July 20, 2021

At Madrona, we have been paying close attention to the changes many companies have experienced over the past year when it comes to their workforce. From the immediate and monumental coronavirus-induced shift to virtual-first ways of doing work in March 2020 to today, we are currently in the middle of a reckoning and resetting of the American economy. Many businesses are settling in to a “new normal” when it comes to expectations for in-office, hybrid, and fully remote employee models – and it may take years to figure out. A McKinsey study estimates that 20-25% of computer-based office workers in advanced economies could continue hybrid remote work arrangements by working from home 3-5 days a week. Today, we are already seeing shifts by workers looking for new, more flexible long-term arrangements in what is starting to be called the “Great Resignation.” In the search for greater flexibility, we believe that highly skilled and specialized workers will not only look for new hybrid and remote jobs, but also will go a step further to “be their own bosses” in the freelancer economy.

In addition, we know from experience that the CFO’s back-office world is messier, and the workload is lumpier than most realize. Needing to augment your team with specialized resources through critical moments is a necessity, but it is often challenging to find and expensive to employ the right people.

Enter Paro, a curated professional services marketplace for finance professionals. Paro’s mission is to empower business professionals to work on their own terms, from Day One with Paro through retirement, providing professional expertise to young companies as well as Fortune 500 businesses. Leveraging the power of AI, Paro matches companies with highly specialized freelance finance talent, from Interim CFOs to experts in tax services, capital raising requirements, financial planning, internal controls, and more.  Paro vets the talent, accepting only 2% of those applying to its platform, to ensure every client receives access to deeply experienced professionals who are the best fit to solve their specific financial needs. In parallel, Paro harnesses AI to offer these finance experts the tools and insights they need to build their own businesses and enhance their professional success.

From the instant we met CEO Anita Samojednik and co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Michael Burdick, we knew the team was building something special.  They have a combination of industry expertise and deep operational knowledge in scaling marketplaces.  They are focused on both the customer’s needs as well as the career development and fulfillment of their technical talent.  Together, they have enabled Paro to double since Q3 2020 and, in the last year, have built a community of freelancers who are supporting themselves fulltime through Paro’s platform: Twenty percent of Paro freelancers have billed $100K to $500K.

We are thrilled to be leading the company’s $25M Series B as they take the next steps in their journey to capitalize on the strength of their technology and operational firepower to help both finance professionals and companies make the most of the expert freelance economy.

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