The pilot’s founders, Jessica McKellar (CTO), Waseem Wollen (CEO), Jeff Arnold (COO)
Start-up Pilot for Accounting Pilot has received a new round of funding from Jeff Bezos and other Silicon Valley investors to help small businesses outsource back office tasks.
The San Francisco-based company closed a $ 100 million financing round this week and doubled its valuation to $ 1.2 billion. The round was chaired by Bezos’ venture capital firm Bezos Expeditions and hedge fund Whale Rock Capital, with participation from Sequoia and Index Ventures. Stripe and its founders, Patrick and John Collison and former VMware CEO Diane Greene had previously invested in Pilot.
Its co-founder and CEO Waseem Therefore was an intern at Amazon 16 years ago before starting two more companies. One was bought by Oracle and the other by Dropbox. He compared the Pilot use case to a problem solved by Amazon Web Services: Let developers focus on building a business rather than figuring out how to host a website.
“There are all of these annoying, boring, scary, and important back office things that you have to do as a small business owner,” Hence told CNBC. “Owners should be focused on running a business on a large scale and Pilot should do the back office work for you.”
Pilot’s employees – mostly former accountants – work directly with a small company. You take on administrative tasks such as payroll, bookkeeping, taxes and invoices. The start-up has worked with companies such as American Express, Bill.com, Gusto and Stripe. Hence it describes it as “tech-savvy”, but Pilot itself is not a software company. The company makes money on subscription fees.
Pilot’s revenues roughly doubled during the pandemic, despite small businesses bearing the brunt of Covid-related shutdowns. The company’s revenue has roughly tripled every year since it was founded in 2017, Wollen said.
He attributed the recent growth to awareness of automation when people run their businesses from home. More and more millennials are also starting small businesses and are more open to outsourcing through a technology platform, Hence said.
“People want to do this virtually. They don’t want to go to Main Street with their receipt box and visit their accountant’s office,” he said.
Pilot is Hence’s third company with co-founders Jeff Arnold, COO of Pilot, and Jessica McKellar, CTO of the company. The group met as students at MIT in the computer club.
Index Ventures partner Mark Goldberg, an early investor in Pilot, first met the founding group at Dropbox almost a decade ago. While the narrative in Silicon Valley right now is “focused on using software to optimize for everything,” said Goldberg, Pilot is taking the “opposite approach” by bringing people back into the mix.
“Nobody starts a company to do BS in the back office. They want someone to get that pain point out,” Goldberg said. “People don’t want software, they want peace and quiet.”