With more than 60 million freelancers in the US and the belief that an increasing number of businesses will heavily be dependent on freelance workers in the post-pandemic era, shares of Upwork rose a staggering 49.3% in May. Lili is the banking and financial services app that helps freelancers better manage their work and personal finances. The interface provides real-time expense tracking, tax tools, and financial insights than can enable freelancers to scale their businesses. Every Lili account comes with a Visa business debit card and has no account fees, overdraft fees, foreign transaction fees, or minimum balance requirements. By effectively helping users manage work and personal accounts in one centralized platform, Lili estimates that it allows users to save up to 60 hours and $1.7K per annum.
AlleyWatch caught up with CEO and Cofounder Lilac Bar David to learn more about how Lili is playing a role in shaping the future of work and the company’s recent funding round. Prior to founding Lili, David, a serial entrepenur, founded the online banking service Pepper in Tel Aviv.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Tell us about the product or service that Lili offers.
Lili is an all-in-one banking app designed for freelance workers. We’re the only company that combines banking services with real-time expense tracking, tax tools, and financial insights; created to help freelancers stay in control of their finances.
We want to empower the 60 million freelancers in the US. Freelancers are a one-man show, and there are various aspects to managing their business, from invoices, bookkeeping, expenses, tax-saving, and more. We wanted to create an app that combines work and life into one account, so freelancers can save time and money for the things that matter. Users save up to 60 hours and $1.7K per year with Lili.
My cofounder, Liran, also previously worked as a freelancer for many years. He experienced a lot of the pain points of independent workers firsthand and was inspired to create a solution.
How is Lili different?
Lili is the only company that combines banking services with real-time expense tracking, tax tools, and financial insights. We are changing how modern workers grow their businesses, saving them time and money for the things that matter. Our app features are tailored specifically to meet independent workers’ needs. Liran and I are veterans in the banking industry and have extensive experience building companies and their technologies from the ground up.
What market does Lili target and how big is it?
We service freelance, self-employed and independent workers. Currently, there are more than 60 million Americans in the freelance economy, up from 53 million in 2014. By 2027, 86.5 million people will be freelancing in the United States, making up 51% of the total U.S. workforce. Whether they’re full-time independent workers or part-time freelancers, our customers span across many industries, from e-commerce shop owners to designers, programmers, fitness instructors, construction workers, chefs, journalists, makeup artists, tutors and many more. We currently have tens of thousands of users in all 50 states on the app.
What’s your business model?
We make interchange revenue when customers choose to pay with their Lili debit card. We also cut out fees, because we believe that freelancers shouldn’t have to pay to access their own money, in contrast to how big banks operate.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
The current pandemic and recession may cause even more people to seek independent work, either full-time or in addition to other jobs, so Lili is even more relevant during this time. We’re addressing the pain points for freelance workers so they can stay in control of their finances while saving time and money.
What was the funding process like?
While the current climate for fundraising poses various challenges, our investor partners strongly believe in our vision and recognize how we’re uniquely positioned to help freelancers stay in control of their finances – especially during this current pandemic and recession – which may be causing more people to seek independent work.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Raising during COVID-19 presented its own challenges, with fewer face-to-face meetings and predicting the effect of the pandemic on businesses.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Our investors believe in solving financial problems for the future of work. There’s a huge market opportunity as more of the workforce moves toward freelancing, which may be accelerated by this recession. We’re the only solution that enables freelancers to holistically manage their bank accounts and their expenses for work and life. Investors believe in our leadership team of serial entrepreneurs with 20 years of fintech experience.
We’re the only solution that enables freelancers to holistically manage their bank accounts and their expenses for work and life. Investors believe in our leadership team of serial entrepreneurs with 20 years of fintech experience.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We plan to grow our customer base, further build out our product to address the pain points of independent workers even better, and expand our product, marketing, and operations teams.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Leverage your connections and start having conversations even when you think the chances are low. You would be surprised to find there are still deals and conversations happening.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Our goal now is to help independent workers stay in control of their finances with banking services, real-time expense tracking, tax tools, and financial insights.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Pure Thai Cookhouse in Hell’s Kitchen makes some of the best Thai food in the city.
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