Paro is an AI-powered marketplace that delivers finance and accounting solutions to businesses through a combination of expert fractional talent, data-driven tools and guiding insights. By harnessing the power of people and technology, our growth platform provides flexible options, ranging from transaction processing support to corporate development and financing strategy, to solve core business challenges and drive growth. The result enables businesses and experts to go beyond even their loftiest goals.
Paro seeks to provide a smarter product on a bigger scale with AI solutions
Since 2016, Paro’s mission has been to help businesses grow and to empower professionals to pursue meaningful work outside of the traditional 9-5 model. We do so by connecting businesses with highly vetted, fractional finance professionals to help them both achieve their goals.
Before 2020, Paro had been achieving this client-expert pairing manually. But venture-backed and intent on scaling, our model required greater efficiencies and deeper insights to provide our growing base of customers and experts with the tools needed to build up their businesses.
“As a sales-driven company, we couldn’t scale in the traditional way, because our cost of acquisition per customer was really high. As you bring in algorithms and AI into the fold, the cost of acquisition drops because of efficiencies. It all comes down to being more streamlined and having more operational efficiencies,” states Ankit Tandon, Director of Product – AI, BI and Data.
Introducing an AI solution was necessary to transform us from a sales-driven company to a product-driven company that could more effectively provide customers and experts with predictable paths for successful growth, while also driving internal decision making toward our own growth goals.
Paro operationalizes AI solutions across its business model
Demystifying AI is one of the personal goals of Chief Product, Technology & Artificial Intelligence Officer, Saum Mathur. His storytelling approach provided leadership and stakeholders with examples and evidence of how AI and machine learning could unlock business possibilities and transform data-driven decision making.
“The power that we bring to our clients and experts is the combination of intelligent human beings with artificial intelligence. But to work with artificial intelligence models and products, the human being that is working with it has to change, the mindset has to change, the approach has to change, the business process that they are working with has to change, and that’s hard. But even before that, one has to convince the company and the executives why they should even trust the AI,” states Mathur.
Mathur and his team were able to translate the mathematics and data science into meaningful value for decision makers, allowing leadership to use AI as a “cobot” to augment their business acumen.
Defining the AI’s needs
Before building the AI model, it was important to determine the goals for the AI and then build the data infrastructure based on the AI’s needs. The AI was supported with internal client and aggregated expert data, as well as substantial data from external sources.
Evolution of AI across Paro’s core business pillars
Our success meant placing equal emphasis on three core areas: clients, finance experts and Paro as a company. Since 2020, we have evolved our AI with increasing capabilities to fuel growth across these core pillars.
“We are providing the AI algorithms that are informing our own business, our own CEO and C-suite to what the key levers for growth are. That shapes our entire strategy for the company,” states Mathur.
The AI’s operational recommendations (i.e., the best mix of services to meet revenue goals), as well as optimal investment recommendations (i.e., the perfect mix of sales and marketing investments to achieve revenue targets), helped to guide spending and refine intra-month sales and marketing strategy. We more effectively answered the question of what strategies to prioritize and what targets to hit to reach our growth goals. The AI forecasts would soon allow us to identify and understand key change drivers on a regular basis and at a granular level to help determine business strategy.
Creating dynamic insights for clients and experts
As the AI evolved, our company operationalized algorithmic matching in order to maximize client satisfaction, expert revenue and network utilization. This allowed us to find the best-fit match between client and expert to improve project success, increase contract wins for experts and drive revenue for our company.
We also focused on improving expert quality and maximizing expert earning potential through AI-recommended actions, so that fractional experts could be more successful in their journey. This is part of an ongoing path to provide experts with orchestrated career coaching to help them achieve their professional goals.
Finally, we expanded our capabilities to further enable sales representatives and account managers to identify and act on risky accounts or engagements, as well as offer current clients next-step services with predicted rates of success.
“Advantages that we have on our platform are that we have a range of services that we offer where we can say, ‘If you are this kind of client, this is the kind of service we can offer that will help you grow.’ The entire journey is orchestrated by AI. We have algorithms that will advise the clients of which next services will help with their growth,” says Mathur.
This evolution has led to dynamic models and continued capabilities that continue to be retrained with new internal and external data to maintain accurate forecasting and provide the most value-additive solutions to all parties.
Paro realizes greater growth potential in just one year
In moving past traditional forecasting models, Paro was able to transition from lagging to leading indicators, allowing for more efficiency and proactivity in decision making and business strategy.
“In a traditional world without AI, you don’t have the intelligence of an algorithm to predict in advance. It’s based on hunches, which are sometimes too late, whereas I can often detect things well in advance based on historical learnings and provide information and alerts to decision makers,” states Tandon.
Going on a hunch was no longer necessary
Paro was able to develop AI solutions that continuously provide over 97% quarterly forecast accuracy, resulting in reliable recommendations and more predictable growth.
Translating Paro’s success into success for clients and experts
As a result of the AI’s recommendations, we had already seen improved expert acceptance rates by clients, higher marketing lead quality and increased recurring revenue. Greater efficiencies allowed us to meet supply and demand challenges and bring tailored solutions more easily to our two markets. Now, the company has completed the first phase of a robust foundation, which allows us to develop AI and deliver AI models, business intelligence, traditional reports and dashboards, and act as a catalyst for transactional systems.
But how we measure success veers from other marketplace models that measure success on volume or quantity, rather than the quality of outcomes. Most importantly, Paro offers improved, targeted solutions that serve as a “growth coach” to businesses and fractional experts.
“We have proven the power of AI and being able to grow companies. Now we are bringing that power to our clients and to our experts to grow their businesses,” states Mathur.