pilot customer case study brilliant

Fast-growing Subscription Businesses: How Pilot Helped Brilliant Grapple with Complex Revenue Recognition

with Eli Ross, COO

Brilliant has learners all over the world that use their platform to build quantitative skills in math, science, and computer science with fun and challenging interactive explorations.


As a fast-growing company that accepts subscription payments across a variety of different platforms, Brilliant needed a solution that could handle the complexities involved, in a reliable, error-free way.


Bringing Pilot on board to handle the bookkeeping with its “people doing what people do best, software doing what software does best” approach allowed Brilliant to properly handle the bookkeeping for these payments consistently and quickly.


Brilliant has confidence in their financial data, especially as it relates to their complex revenue streams, allowing them to focus on running the business.

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The Brilliant Story

Brilliant creates interactive learning experiences for learners of all ages who are interested in expanding their knowledge in math, science, or computer science. By making topics exciting, active, and engaging, they’re helping promote STEM education around the world. Their approach has resonated: they have 8+ million members around the world.

Eli Ross, the company’s COO, focuses his energy on making sure that the business is growing and operating efficiently. Sometimes that involves meaty strategic questions, and other times it requires wrangling the bookkeeping to ensure a robust handle on the business’s finances.

Enter Pilot.


Brilliant has a popular subscription service, available on multiple platforms around the world. One of the challenges of running a large-scale subscription service is that you’re regularly accepting payment via a number of different platforms: Apple App Store, Google Play Store, PayPal, credit cards, etc. To make matters more complicated, those payments may be for different periods of time (annual or monthly), or for different numbers of people (i.e., family and group plans). And sometimes a payment might need to be refunded.

Getting a handle on revenue and gaining confidence in exactly how much money you’ve earned each month in this world can be quite complex—and that complexity only increases as the business grows. Brilliant needed to find a bookkeeping provider that could handle this complexity, and one that they were confident could grow with them as their business grows and scales.

Finally, most accounting partners charged by the hour and used more manual processes—meaning that, as Brilliant’s data got larger and larger, so did their hourly bill. Because of hourly billing, there wasn’t a shared incentive to streamline complex processes like revenue recognition.

pilot customer case study brilliant


What the Brilliant team needed was a company that was tech-native that really understood how to handle their growing revenue and subscription complexity in a software-driven way. (Fundamentally, it just isn’t possible to do high-quality, reliable work every single month when there are millions of users on the platform—someone, somewhere, will make a typo or miscalculate something if you are doing this work by hand in Excel.)

This is exactly where Pilot’s approach shined: Brilliant’s account manager at Pilot was able to work closely with Eli, Brilliant’s operations and data teams, and the Pilot engineering team to make sure that they had a good grasp of the exact specification and situation Brilliant was in—and made sure all the edge cases were robustly covered.

As far as billing was concerned, the Pilot flat-rate model meant that the Brilliant team knew exactly what the bill was going to be every month, and didn’t need to worry that fluctuations in their own business in a given month would lead to large fluctuations in what they had to pay their bookkeeping provider.

There’s a real meeting of the minds working with someone who’s pushing just as fast and as hard as you are. That’s a special quality to have in a counterpart for bookkeeping.

Eli Ross

COO, Brilliant

Now that Brilliant uses Pilot for bookkeeping, they’re confident that they have a trusted partner that’s taking care of this important, complex, and error-prone work—which means Eli and team can focus on the mission of bringing science, math, and computer science learning experiences to the world. You might say it’s a brilliant partnership.

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