Creator Economy Fintech Startup Willa Raises $18M Series A Led by FinTech Collective
When you get introduced to the original growth team from Spotify by a fintech founder in Copenhagen that you know and trust, you pay attention!
Today, we are pleased to announce that FTC has led Stockholm and Los Angeles-based Willa’s $18m Series A financing.
We first chatted to Kristofer, Aron, Peter, and Stefan in December 2020 about the business they were building initially focused on US creators, Willa. Their promise to freelancers that they would never have to chase another unpaid invoice, worry about payment terms or deal with complicated and time-consuming paperwork was immediately compelling.
After several conversations through Q1 of 2021, it was clear they were onto something big and important - and they were executing with the ruthless efficiency we at FinTech Collective love to see.
The “creator economy” is undergoing significant growth. Just last year, the freelance workforce, some 60m people in the U.S., contributed $1.3t to the U.S. economy. The industry is growing at a pace on track to surpass traditional employment by 2027. So, in layman’s terms – freelance work will, soon, be more common than traditional employment. Unfortunately, most of society hasn’t caught up with this paradigm shift. The entire ecosystem is still based on the assumption that you’re either a traditional corporation or an employee. As a result, an entire generation of freelance workers are overlooked and stuck in the middle
With influencers gaining unprecedented followings on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, among others, consumer attention is shifting from traditional media to these influencers and platforms. Advertising dollars are following the eyeballs too with influencer marketing growing to a $14b industry today (from less than $1b in 2015) and projected to continue growing rapidly as it takes share from the $700b global advertising pie.
However, the biggest pain point for creators is getting paid late. When brands and platforms pay after a 30, 60, or 90 day delay, the creator can face an acute cash flow problem they didn’t expect. Delayed payment is also problematic for many brands who understand the marketing power of influencers, but cannot avoid a tedious invoicing and payment process.
Willa’s initial product is an “aspirin” (versus a vitamin) in addressing the pain creators feel. For a small fee, influencers can receive payment of their invoice in 30 seconds or less, while brands and their agencies can continue to pay on their own terms. Willa automates vendor forms, invoice processing, payment processing, and related compliance. By solving this bottleneck for creators, many more people will be enabled to pursue the influencer path.
The Willa team has clearly struck a chord, with 150,000 influencers and freelancers now on the waitlist. Over time, we believe this product is the tip of the spear to a holistic financial services offering for this emerging segment of the economy.
In addition to building the right product at the right time, this is the right team to do it. Co-founders Kristofer, Aron, Peter, and Stefan embark on this journey with significant domain expertise and complementary skill-sets. Prior to Willa, the founding team were early employees at Spotify across engineering, product, and marketing, playing a key role in Spotify’s growth and U.S. launch. After Spotify, they co-founded Relatable, a tech platform connecting influencers with Fortune 500 brands.
Willa is on a mission to power the future of work and become the financial OS for creators. We are excited to be along for the journey. Let’s go!
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.
Kristofer Sommestad, CEO