U.S.-based neobank Joust Labs announced today that it has closed a seed round of funding for its financial services platform designed for freelancers and entrepreneurs, many of whom face challenges managing their finances due to the irregularity of working with multiple clients or partners. Joust helps its users handle invoices and payments and provides protection against late or missed payments. The round was led by PTB Ventures and also included Accion Venture Lab, the seed-stage investment initiative of global nonprofit Accion; Financial Venture Studio; and Techstars. The funds will support Joust as it expands its platform to serve the growing freelance workforce segment.
Lamine Zarrad, founder and CEO of Joust, said, “We are so excited to partner with PTB Ventures, Accion Venture Lab, Financial Venture Studio, and Techstars. At Joust, we understand the growing market of self-employed workers, freelancers, and small businesses, and their need for an all-in-one banking solution—especially one that gives them the same benefits enjoyed by major corporations. Our platform not only saves time, but also reduces uncertainty and mitigates the risk of late and non-payment.”
Joust provides freelancers, sole proprietors, and small and midsized businesses in the United States with tailored financial services to manage and smooth their unconventional cash flows. It has developed an invoice guarantee product, PayArmour, which allows users to access a cash advance against unpaid invoices. Joust bundles PayArmour with a suite of financial services, including a bank account and payments processing, offered through one mobile platform.
Ultimately, the platform allows workers to get paid for their work faster, protecting their assets and allowing them to seize new opportunities.
“Freelancers require credit and banking products that mirror the user experience of the consumer market but the product sophistication of the small business market,” added Dave Fields, founder and managing partner of PTB Ventures. “Existing financial market infrastructure just isn’t built to provide this bundle. Through the use of contextual data and proprietary risk algorithms, Joust reduces the cost, complexity and risk of becoming a solopreneur.”
According to Freelancers Union, there are some 57 million freelancers in the U.S., and more than half of America’s workforce is expected to engage in freelance work in some capacity by 2027. Yet despite freelancers’ growing importance, the financial sector has yet to provide the financial services that meet their unique needs. 63% of freelancers surveyed by Freelancers Union last year reported anxiety over managing their financials, taxes, and insurance.
Accion CEO Michael Schlein said, “Freelancers and entrepreneurs are often forced to manage their finances at the mercy of irregular cash flows and late or inconsistent payments. We’re pleased to be part of Joust’s innovative solution targeting an underserved and increasingly important segment of the U.S. economy.” Vikas Raj, managing director of Accion Venture Lab, added, “As the gig economy grows, we believe Joust, with its sole focus on this market and its expandable, one-stop shop offering, is uniquely positioned to serve this segment effectively.”
Financial Venture Studio, an early Joust investor, built on its position in this round. “Joust has accomplished a rare feat in fintech: they’ve brought a truly differentiated product to market,” said Ryan Falvey, managing partner at Financial Venture Studio. “PayArmour has proven it can smooth income and expenses for small businesses, improving the financial health of an important segment in our economy. We’re proud to be involved.”
Techstars Managing Director Nathaniel Zola added, “Lamine and the Joust team built a first-of-its-kind banking solution that’s already transforming business banking. His dynamic team excelled during their time in our Techstars Boulder Accelerator program. We’re very excited to be a part of Joust’s growth.”
Joust is the nation’s first all-inclusive banking platform for independent professionals. Founded in October 2017, Joust serves freelancers, contractors, and self-employed workers in all 50 states. The company’s business banking app combines an FDIC-insured bank account with a merchant account to accept all kinds of payments. PayArmour, Joust’s invoicing guarantee product, mitigates client nonpayment—a problem that affects 71% of the gig economy workforce—and helps smooth income volatility with an option to receive immediate funding.
For more information, visit Joust’s website at https://joust.com. The Joust app is available for download on both Google Play and the Apple App Store.
About PTB Ventures
PTB Ventures is a thesis driven venture capital firm investing in early-stage companies in the emerging digital identity ecosystem. Digital identity is the cornerstone of a transformation that will see trillions of networked devices connected to billions of humans. This transformation will create unprecedented economic expansion and a new level of security and access to billions of people. PTB is headquartered in New York City. https://www.ptbvc.com/
About Accion Venture Lab
Accion Venture Lab is a seed-stage investment initiative focused on fintech for the underserved. Venture Lab invests capital in and provides support to innovative fintech startups that improve access, quality, and affordability of financial services for the underserved at scale. Since launching in 2012, Venture Lab has invested in 40 early-stage startups that operate in over 30 countries worldwide. Venture Lab is a part of Accion, a global nonprofit committed to creating a financially inclusive world, with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. Accion catalyzes financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions at scale for the three billion people who are left out of – or poorly served by – the financial sector. For more than 50 years, Accion has helped tens of millions of people through our work with more than 110 partners in 50 countries. For further information, visit https://www.accion.org/venturelab.
About Financial Venture Studio
Financial Venture Studio invests in great teams who are seeking to improve how Americans conduct their financial lives. From more efficient savings to superior investments to faster payments and better information, the promise of today’s financial products has never been greater. Learn more at www.finventurestudio.com.