Fintech startup Joust raises $2.6 million seed round for the nation’s first banking platform for freelancers, entrepreneurs and the self-employed workers
U.S.-based neobank Joust Labs, the first and the only bank platform serving the independent professional, the freelancer, and the small business founder, announced today that it has closed a $2.6 million 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.
Founded in 2017 by Lamine Zarrad and George Kurtyka, Joust is the nation’s first all-inclusive banking platform for independent professionals. It serves freelancers, contractors, and self-employed workers in all 50 states. 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.
Joust aims to give entrepreneurs and gig-workers financial freedom. The neobank is SAFE FDIC insured bank account. It guarantees invoice payment such that when clients pay late or don’t pay, the company’s “PayArmour” feature gives an option for same-day funding. It also accepts all kinds Of Payments: combines an FDIC-insured bank account with a merchant account. Its app is available for download on Google Play and Apple App Store.
Commenting on the funding, 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. 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.
“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.”