The memo that a virtual task force company used to raise $4.5 million

  • Phoebe Yao is the founder of Pareto, a data collection tool run with the help of virtual assistants.
  • She started her company in 2020 and has since raised over $4.5 million.
  • Yao shared the memo she used instead of a pitch deck for her seed round.

Phoebe Yao, 23, was first intrigued by how the gig economy could help people in developing countries gain access to high-paying opportunities after visiting an impact-focused BPO, or business process outsourcing, company as an intern. from Microsoft Research in India.

So when the Stanford alumnus returned to California four months later, she started thinking about how she could connect even more budding entrepreneurs with the virtual workforce.

The result was Pareto, launched in May 2020 as a resource for startups to launch successful marketing and sales campaigns with the aid of “data analysts,” or virtual assistants who specialize in using Pareto software and submitting requests for data. to customers.

Pareto now has 11 full-time employees and 70 data analysts who work on an ad hoc basis, Yao said. The data analysts, who are largely in the Philippines, were found by Yao through virtual assistant communities on LinkedIn and Facebook and through referrals. Many are housewives who appreciate flexible hours, Yao said, and have worked in the back office of US companies or in call centers.

Every data analyst working for Pareto undergoes a two-week training, where they learn technical skills around basic data collection tools and soft skills such as navigating cultural differences.

Raising funds using a ‘memo’

Yao raised $600,000 in October 2019 from startup founders and venture capitalists. Two years later, it raised another $4.5 million from companies like MaC Venture Capital.

For his pre-seed round, Yao said he used a pitch deck. But when she chose to create a seed round, she decided to switch from visual slides to a memo.

“I was very intimidated by the fundraising process,” Yao told Insider. “I didn’t really see how I could build relationships or appear in a way that made sense for my personality.”

Yao felt that a memo would help her get her message across and repeated it several times before reaching the final product.

“Changing the memo is critical to the fundraising process,” Yao said. “The first few weeks involve talking to investors, learning from those conversations, and learning what to emphasize in the memo. I think I probably edited the memo every day for the first two weeks to make it more succinct.”

Yao mentored Insider about the memo she used to raise $4.5 million and explained why she thought it worked to get investors’ attention.

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