Startups need data to grow, and Phoebe Yao, CEO of Pareto, wants to make that as simple as possible.
She started the company in 2020 to provide virtual data analysts to businesses. Pareto’s team of data experts delivers actionable insights for sales marketing and recruiting pipelines. This data can range from finding TikTok influencers to qualifying B2B leads, finding job candidates, and finding NFT communities.
Yao, who is a Thiel Fellow, was born in China and moved to St. Louis at a young age with her father, who was a truck driver, and her mother, who was a nurse. She was initially interested in a career in classical music, but when applying to Stanford, her parents wanted her to go in a different direction.
She ended up being drawn to computer science, specifically how systems design creates opportunities for people to access skill sets.
During a gap year in college, she worked at Microsoft on designing a bespoke virtual workforce focused on stay-at-home moms, which got her thinking about skills gaps, to outsourcing and the culture of working with foreign companies.
“There was an infrastructure in place to build the workforce, but what was missing was the culture around supporting skills development and transforming it into meaningful career opportunities in technology,” said Yao at TechCrunch.
She decided to start a bootcamp to train women to be virtual assistants, analyze data, and basically be the right hand of an entrepreneur. Yao was training 20 women when the global pandemic hit.
She then decided to drop out of school and focus on the business, which was becoming a service that startup founders would use. However, when she began to see patterns in projects more focused on collecting and processing data, she and her team decided to pivot to leverage Pareto’s operational teams to analyze data and develop more technologies. to automate the data collection and analysis process and create a human-in-the-loop virtual analysis system.
“We’re on a mission to democratize access to quality data while empowering stay-at-home moms around the world,” Yao added. “Our operations team is 100% female-led and operated, and we are implementing world-class training and mentoring as well as flexible remote work opportunities within a supportive peer community.”
Today, hundreds of companies use Pareto, including Modern Fertility, Wander, Launch House, and Pave.
Yao’s goal now is to scale the business and hone the business from a virtual assistant, which would be operationally intensive, to a virtual analytics, which would be more technical, to deliver actionable data. to customers. This is particularly relevant as an estimated 1.1 million women have left the workforce in the past two years as uncertainty surrounding education and childcare has continued during the pandemic.
The company raised $600,000 in pre-seed funding in 2020 and today announced $4.5 million in seed funding which it closed in November. Investors include MaC Venture Capital, Seabed VC, Soma Capital, Fearless Fund, Liquid2 Ventures, Slope Agency and Thumbtack founder Jonathan Swanson. The new round gives Pareto $5.1 million in total, Yao said.
The new funding is expected to last the company for the next few years, Yao said. The company plans to build engineering and marketing teams to refine its product-market fit.
Last year, Pareto had 40 members in the operations team, and that has doubled over the past year. During the same period, monthly recurring revenue increased from $10,000 to $50,000, she added.
“We plan to use the new capital to answer questions about product-market fit, how much we charge for the product, long-term value, and how to convert one-time customers to long-term customers,” Yao said. . “By allocating money to different questions and assumptions, it will give us a flexible metric for our Series A.”