Creator Economy Fintech Startup Willa Raises $18M Series A
Willa, the creator economy fintech dedicated to getting freelancers paid on time without the associated admin and hassle, today announces an $18 million Series A round led by New York-based FinTech Collective, including additional investments from Entrée Capital and EQT Ventures.
With the investment, Willa is gearing up to expand its invite-only beta to a waitlist of 150,000+ freelancers in the United States. The latest funding will also allow for the company to grow its active user base and keep up with demand and a rapidly growing waitlist. A debit card and additional services centered around financial wellness for freelancers are planned later in 2021.
The Series A raise comes about a year after a $3M seed investment from EQT Ventures and other angel investors. The iOS app first launched in late 2020 and helps creative freelancers with an easier way to get paid with no paperwork or risk. Freelancers receive their money in less than 30 seconds, and their clients can pay later on their own terms – i.e. in 30, 60, or 90 days.
The team is on a mission to power the future of work and ensure that freelance workers can optimize their working conditions, spend less time on paperwork, and – most importantly – get paid for the work they have done without waiting for their money.
“We’re already processing millions of dollars in early payout to freelancers – and growth has doubled each quarter,” said Kristofer Sommestad, Co-founder & CEO.
150,000+ U.S. freelancers on the waitlist
The latest round of funding comes shortly after the app surged to the Top Free Chart in the App Store during spring, adding some 150,000+ U.S. freelancers to the waitlist – surpassing apps like Venmo and PayPal.
“Growth and demand have been driven entirely by word of mouth from our first users – many being social media creators and influencers,” says Kristofer Sommestad, CEO.
Willa was founded in 2019 by a team of serial entrepreneurs, many of whom were early members of the Spotify team and played a key role in the brand’s growth and U.S. launch.
“We’ve had the opportunity to build a distributed remote-first team from day one with some exceptional people from around the world,” says Kristofer. “Our goal is to hire an additional 40-50 people this year with the same approach.
“We’ve got something special going on at Willa which became evident when we had the opportunity to pick and choose between the world’s leading investors for the Series A. I’m excited to boost Willa with additional superpowers from FinTech Collective. Combining this with the continued support from EQT Ventures and all other existing investors, we come well prepared for the next leg of our journey towards a better life for the future of work.”
1 in 2 freelancers are suffering from late payments
In 2020, the freelance workforce contributed nearly $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy. Additional research from Upwork suggests that there are an estimated 56.7 million total freelancers in the U.S. – and that by 2027 the U.S. workforce is predicted to take over the overall workforce. At the same time, every other freelancer has had trouble collecting payments.
“Freelancing is the future of work,” said Kristofer Sommestad, co-founder and CEO at Willa. “But most of our society hasn’t caught up with this. The system seems to revolve around the idea that you’re a corporation or an employee. As a result, an entire generation of freelance workers are overlooked and ignored, and we’re on a mission to solve that problem.”
Willa replaces the traditional invoicing process for freelancers. Instead of creating invoices and sending them to clients – often waiting 30/60/90 days to get paid – requests are sent and processed in seconds, and funds are available immediately. The client can then pay later at their own terms. Vendor forms and paperwork is automated, and the entire process is compliant with regulatory requirements.
Willa charges a small transaction fee (2.9%) per payment request, but unlike services like PayPal or traditional invoicing platforms its users receive their money in less than 30 seconds, every single time.
Reimagining the way money flows with a consumer-grade experience
“Many freelancing tools have seen the light of day, but none solve their biggest problems. As a result, they have no choice but to spend a full day each week on paperwork and still end up being paid late and lose their creativity,” says Kristofer. “Our team has spent the last two decades building world-class consumer experiences across music apps, mobile games, and marketplaces. Willa is a beautiful user experience built on a simple premise: Finance doesn’t have to be about anxiety, spreadsheets, templates or vendor forms.”
“At FinTech Collective we back creators with a hunger to reimagine the way money flows through the world. The Willa team is doing exactly this,” said Gareth Jones, Managing Partner, and co-founder at FinTech Collective. “They’ve built an exceptional product that their users love in a very short amount of time and we’re extremely excited to be a part of the journey ahead and have Willa reshape the future of work.”