Lean raises $4.5 million to help gig workers and platforms

Some companies help you make money. Some companies help you track your money. Others, like Lean, aim to do a whole lot more.

Gig workers can’t sign up with Lean directly just yet, but instead, Lean partners with platforms like Uber and Instacart to offer Lean’s services to all of their workers.

I like to think of Lean as a ‘digital wallet’ so, as a worker, you would set up a Lean bank account and then get your Instacart pay, for example, sent straight to your bank account after every single job, with no fees to the worker or platform.

We know that Uber Instant Pay is one of the most popular driver products ever, so we like to think of Lean as ‘Instant Pay 2.0’. Instant Pay has become table stakes when it comes to the benefits platforms are offering to gig workers but surprisingly, many platforms are still just getting around to adding Instant Pay 1.0. So if you’re a platform looking to offer the best benefits to your workers, make sure to reach out to Lean or Harry for an intro to Lean 🙂

The other cool thing about the product Lean offers is that there are also no fees to the worker or platform to use their service since it’s a digital wallet. So the money goes straight from the customer to your bank account after every single gig!

Sounds too good to be true? Well, it’s real – and it could be just the solution for many independent workers. Harry is such a fan of the company, he actually came on as an advisor and investor and has been helping provide feedback as the company scales. So expect to see big things from Lean in the future.

What is Lean?

On Lean’s ‘About Us’ page, they share that:

“More than half of the US workforce will be comprised of independent workers, hourly workers, creators, and gig workers.  This segment struggles more than any other work segment in the US.  We’re changing that.  We’re the modern benefits platform for the modern workforce.  W2?  1099?  Doesn’t matter.  We blur the lines to give you the benefits you need, as you need them.”

Lean also states they will be rolling out financial benefits to more than 200,000 independent workers. While you can’t sign up directly with Lean, they are integrating with several marketplaces over the next year, so you should see them come to a platform you use.

Lean offers services such as improving worker retention, attracting more workers, creating new revenue streams, reducing payment costs and more to their partners.  Finally, Lean also offers an $1000 advance for companies to offer workers – completely free!

Harry is quoted as saying, “Lean puts independent workers first. The benefits they offer—like instant pay after every job or access to no-cost capital—are game changers for gig economy workers and for the marketplaces who want to stay ahead of the pack.”

In a recent article published by Tech Crunch, written by Mary Ann Azevedo, “Lean works with marketplaces of all sizes that employ either 1099 or W2 workers that work in industries such as ride-hailing, courier, healthcare and construction. Tilak Joshi, co-founder and CEO of Lean, said that in addition to boosting worker acquisition and retention, Lean has the potential to ‘unlock’ revenue for marketplaces via financial products and infrastructure rather than through fees to workers.”

Investments in Lean

Many companies see the benefits offered by Lean, as it was recently announced that Lean had raised $4.5 million in a seed round, with participation from Atelier Ventures, Oceans Ventures, and Acequia Capital. As Azevedo notes, “Notably, a slew of marketplace industry operators also put money in the round, including DoorDash exec Gokul Rajaram; Instacart co-founder Max Mullen; Manik Gupta, ex-CPO Uber; Vivek Patel, ex-COO of Postmates; Bird CPO Ryan Fujiu; and others.”

Personally, I think that is a great benefit. There were times where I had to cash out daily so I could pay the next bill. But I hated that I had to pay a $0.50 fee every time I did cash out. I was paying money to get access to the money I worked hard to earn. Just eliminating that fee alone is enough for me to keep an eye on Lean to see how else they might help gig workers.

Keep your eye out for Lean over the coming months, and let us know – had you heard about Lean before?

-Paula @ RSG