Sumit Suman, Co-founder & CEO | Paco
Paco is part of the 2021 class of the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. The 12-week accelerator helps startups in connectivity, media, and entertainment grow their companies and develop partnerships with Comcast NBCUniversal.
Sumit Suman, Nitin Pande, and Sameer Narang have worked with early-stage startups and Software as a Service (SaaS) companies for years. A common theme emerged: customer success is critical. New sign-ups must be converted to active users. When new clients onboard successfully, they represent tremendous value. Without that positive onboarding experience, SaaS companies lose customers—stalling innovation.
“At early-stage startups, we sold software to major companies and went above and beyond to make customers feel welcome and successful,” said Suman. “In some cases, I had to work extremely hard to help them onboard. There should be better tools to help with customer success.”
When large companies buy new software, implementation is complex and can take months. Whether the software makes hiring more efficient or teams more productive, it may require training sessions, the creation of customer accounts for thousands of employees, and data integration. Nudging customers along that journey is no easy task.
“All of this happens according to a playbook. There is a sequence of events — perhaps data integration comes first, followed by creating user accounts, employee communication, then training,” said Nitin. “A customer success person must guide them through that process and help if they get stuck.”
Suman, Pande, and Narang launched Paco, a tool that helps customer success professionals provide white-glove onboarding experiences to SaaS customers at scale. Paco is an intelligent bot that can be placed into shared Slack channels, emails, and video calls. It uses conversational artificial intelligence to continuously guide customer success professionals through the onboarding process. It can help prioritize their actions — like first responding to a client question immediately via email, then setting up a training program for client employees.
“If you do not get the customer to use the product quickly, they will not renew,” said Nitin. “That’s why we built Paco.”
At Stake: The Future of Innovation
Suman cut his teeth as a management consultant for a large firm and transitioned into enterprise tech. Narang is the machine learning guru on the team who helped build AI modules at large companies and saw how big businesses function from the inside out. Nitin is a software designer and product manager who helped a small startup get acquired by a major player.
Suman is passionate about Paco because of his belief that software companies and startups drive innovation.
“If SaaS companies can onboard customers better and show value faster, technology moves forward,” he said. “It’s how we continue making progress as a society. If you develop great technology, but nobody can use it, that kills innovation and kills companies.”
Nitin knows the deep satisfaction of helping a corporate client implement a solution.
“Seeing the value they get once the solution starts working is really satisfying,” he said. “You come in as outsiders and help a big company solve a problem. With Paco, we are empowering those people — and that’s really powerful.”
Nitin says he joined Paco for one simple reason: he can’t see himself working anywhere but at a startup. It’s exciting and allows him freedom for creative expression.
“It is the most alive experience you can have at work,” he said. “You are on the edge of your seat and unsure if your business is going to work. The experience of a startup is just too much fun.”
The Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs accelerator has connected the team to venture capital investors and successful executives. Experts and mentors provide valuable insight into Paco’s business models — specifically their target customers.
“Through the program, we were able to get connected to so many people so quickly. Talking to them clarified the core personas we are targeting. All the guidance helps us stay on track,” said Suman.
For any vendor or consultant, the first sale is just the beginning. Through an established relationship, there’s an opportunity to sell more services and expand the partnership to more teams within an organization. That post-sale revenue can eventually be much higher than an initial sale value.
As Paco grows, the founders hope to expand beyond onboarding and help SaaS companies with all post-sale activities.
“After a sale is done, Paco can help with relationship building, expansion of accounts, renewals, upsells, cross-sells, and customer support,” said Suman. “We want to help companies continuously make their customers feel special throughout the entire journey.”