Innovators of the Week: ZayZoon Aims to Reduce Financial Stress with Earned Wage Access

Co-founded by Darcy Tuer, Tate Hackert and Jamie Ha, the Calgary-based fintech startup partners with small and medium-sized businesses to provide employees with on-demand access to wages.

ZayZoon founders (from left to right), Jamie Ha, Darcy Tuer and Tate Hackert. Photo by Chris Landry.

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In his early twenties, Tate Hackert, flush from a commercial fishing gig, took it upon himself to offer short-term loans to strangers after seeing the struggle some had between paycheques. With that, the idea for what would become fintech company ZayZoon was born.

Calgary-based ZayZoon is an earned wage startup, meaning the company partners with small and medium-sized businesses to help them provide a percentage of earned wages to employees at any time, outside of traditional pay periods. The startup has grown successfully in the U.S. since launching in 2017 with co-founders Hackert as president, Darcy Tuer as CEO and Jamie Ha as CFO. Today, ZayZoon has approximately 120 employees, has raised $68 million USD (with a recent Series B extension that raised $15 million USD), according to BetaKit, and has partnered with or given its services to more than 10,000 small and mid-sized businesses across the U.S.

While founded by three Calgarians, Tuer says ZayZoon’s strong presence in the U.S. is due to a serendipitous conference that led to rapid adoption of ZayZoon’s service that hasn’t slowed down since the company’s launch.

“When we landed in that payroll conference, we saw something special,” says Tuer. “Tate and I walked away with five ‘handshake deals,’ but that was a lot more than we’d achieved [in] eight months in Canada.”

This year, ZayZoon’s plans for expansion and future innovations include a homecoming of sorts, as it works to reduce financial stress for Canadians, too.

“Since the beginning, it’s always been our plan to be in Canada,” says Hackert. “We know that this product is needed here just as much as it has been needed in the U.S.”

“When you think about your everyday life, as you’re going out to get coffee, getting your hair cut, getting lunch, whatever the case may be, seven of the 10 people that you encounter are probably going through some kind of financial difficulty,” adds Ha. “And that magnitude is just so overwhelming to think about.”

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