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Paula Festas

huumans is a tech-forward financial services firm that supports entrepreneurs and small businesses of all sizes with the day-to-day financial operations of running a business. huumans was created to improve the financial health of SMBs through an ecosystem of one-stop-shop accounting, AI-driven business intelligence, and smart financial services. More than just bookkeeping, huumans combines the best of art and science: lour licensed bookkeepers and CPAs handle the day-to-day needs of SMBs, with the help of Quota, our proprietary AI-generated data and insights platform. Quota provides real-time data to power insight, advisory, and financial services for SMBs.

By partnering with small business owners that are already managing their own bookkeeping in the cloud—using technology like Xero or QuickBooks—huumans connects its users to licensed bookkeeping professionals, financial services, and a suite of micro-services like business health checks and accountant consultations.

Tell us about yourself?

Joining huumans was an easy decision that stemmed from my commitment to helping small business owners and being the daughter of small business owners myself. Professionally, I have over 25 years of proven track record of success in driving global and high-performing brands and organizations towards new success and strong, profitable partnerships, but I wanted to change gears a bit and focus on SMBs at the grassroots level.

I have been with huumans since 2021, but prior to that, I served as the Chief Revenue Officer for Alibi Technologies and Postmedia, where I led and developed long-term business strategies across cross-functional teams while pivoting and transforming the organization.

I’m proud to have contributed to many non-profit companies as a board member, and I am currently on the board of Good Deeds in Toronto, which prides itself on encouraging a sustainable future by reducing waste and nurturing communities. In addition, I’ve consistently rallied behind small business owners in my professional and personal life, most recently by participating as a judge for Total Mom pitch and Xero’s Beautiful Business Fund.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I would remind myself to always make sure we are serving our customers and putting their needs and wants ahead of what we see as differentiators for our business. Recently, we pivoted on how often we reconciled the books for our small business customers. Originally, we were reconciling our customers’ books weekly, and we saw this as a key differentiator for our business. We learned that we needed to provide more flexibility to our customers—like reconciling bi-weekly or even monthly because not everyone is comfortable with the weekly cadence we offered. We have to remember to work closely with our customers so we are delivering the services they need, not what we think they should want.

What problem does your business solve?

We all know that entrepreneurs don’t go into business to manage their bookkeeping and accounting—that’s where huumans comes in. huumans is a reputable and accredited bookkeeping and accounting firm that is committed to seeing small business owners succeed. We want to provide SMBs with bookkeeping support and access to trusted financial services so they can get back to doing what they do best: running their business.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

SMBs are the backbone of the economy, but we hear from many of our customers that they don’t feel comfortable getting into the weeds with their bookkeeping and financial information— because of the potential for errors or miscalculations that can lead to things like being audited. Our customers prefer to have their bookkeeping managed by licensed professionals, and by connecting our customers with bookkeepers and accountants, we’re helping these owners professionally in all aspects of their business, like payroll, tax prep, and reporting.

It’s also an exciting time for huumans because we are expanding into a one-stop-shop for financial services, specifically for SMBs, which will mean that we can connect small business owners with reputable and trusted partners for benefits, insurance, and loans.

What is your magic sauce?

We often hear about artificial intelligence, but I really like the term ‘augmented intelligence’, which takes the knowledge of licensed bookkeepers and accountants and pairs it with the speed and convenience of technology. At huumans, we champion our own AI analytics platform, Quota, as connective tissue to help SMBs access and interpret their data, empower our own strategic partnerships, and build suitable, focused financial products. huumans is able to offer SMBs a single comprehensive platform and cohesive sticky ecosystem that covers their entire spectrum of needs.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

The vision over the next five years is to build out a financial services ecosystem for our small business customers. We want to find and partner with the best in the business when it comes to services and products geared towards small business owners. This includes: insurance, loans and M&A financing, smart banking, payments, family offices, pension-style investing for business owners, and other growth and strategy consulting services. We also have plans to build out a banking arm, where we will offer technology-driven, huuman-guided banking solutions that work for SMBs. Our goal is to be the one-stop shop for small business owners. We know that small business owners are busy; they don’t have time to research products and services. That’s why we want to take out the guesswork and partner with the right organizations that are as mission-driven as we are.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

As a start-up, we always have to pivot and remain agile, but a longer-term challenge for many people in my shoes is helping SMBs understand technology, like cloud accounting, to help give them the best support and most actionable insights and data needed. As a tech-forward account firm, we want to help SMBs understand why they need to embrace the technology while still providing the ‘human touch’ that many business owners desire.

Since the pandemic, as a society, we’ve had a bit of a tumultuous time with things like rising inflation and interest rates being dinner table conversation topics. It can be challenging to navigate the constantly changing tides, but it’s important to me that I continue to demonstrate that we have a grasp of the current conditions and we know the decisions to make to help our business owners need to succeed.

How can people get involved?

huumans serves franchise owners, start-ups, and small business owners who are looking for licensed bookkeeping and accounting support. huumans also partner with like-minded organizations that support the small business community. Get in touch with us by visiting our website,