When deciding to branch out and create a sister office to its native New York City location, tech startup DailyPay did a tour of the Midwest. Considering factors like median income, universities, a central location and the average price of homes, DailyPay had narrowed it down to Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus: but what made them choose Minnesota was a cultural alignment with the company’s values.
DailyPay was created to provide users their first steps toward financial independence, specifically by helping employees across the country access their wages as soon as they’ve earned them.
Founder and CEO Jason Lee, formerly the Managing Director of structured equity at Goldman Sachs, stumbled upon the disadvantages inherent in the standard pay cycle when he tried to order Domino’s on a third party delivery app. He discovered that the reason the pizza company didn’t participate was due to an inconvenience in the pay cycle for employees.
Wanting to change this, Lee created the company in 2016 and it’s grown immensely since. By partnering with employers and employees alike, DailyPay helps users get wages as soon as they’ve earned them — allowing for users to pay bills on time, avoid late fees, and hopefully, gain a feeling of independence. DailyPay now has nearly 200 employees between its New York and Minneapolis offices; hundreds of thousands of eligible users; and 115 active partner employers, including BiteSquad and Vera Bradley.
“The biggest reason behind this growth is that the market has really started to recognize and understand the depth and breadth of this benefit,” says Preeti Krishnan, DailyPay’s Chief of Staff. Krishnan, who is based in the New York office, says working with large pay card companies and payroll service providers including ADP and Ceridian is a testament to the industry’s investment and interest in offering instant access to earned wage solutions as a broad base solution for their employees.
But why Minneapolis?
When the company decided it was ready for a second office, the first thing they knew was that this new location would be focused on payment operations. As a company focused on processing payments as quickly and efficiently as possible for employees, what really counts is when users get paid. “If that [process] didn’t work, we wouldn’t have a product,” says Mariele Marki, head of employer brand & culture at DailyPay in the New York office.
Thus, the banking industry and education ecosystem in the Twin Cities was a major draw, says Ron Munkittrick, SVP of External Operations, who works out of the Minneapolis office. “Quite simply, [Minneapolis] is one of the largest banking centers in the country,” he says. One of the original members on the Midwest tour and formerly a consultant to DailyPay, Munkittrick also mentioned noticing a sense of community in the startup culture here.
“What’s happening in the Twin Cities is very impressive,” he says of the startup ecosystem. Gary Pearcy, VP of payment operations at the DailyPay Minneapolis office and a corporate and military veteran with 14 years of experience at Wells Fargo, agrees.
“Highlighting the stories behind why startups are here is building a nice network,” Pearcy says of the community and organizations such as Twin Cities Startup Week. “It provides a nice perspective that we were able to come into, to hear everyone’s story and see the talent around us.”
The booming tech and startup industry is also helping combat the problem of college graduates from Minnesota moving to coasts right after graduation, says Pearcy, who just joined DailyPay in September 2019. “It keeps the local talent local.”
Minneapolis was so welcoming, in fact, that Marki mentioned it was nearly “overwhelming.” Citing a great culture, quality of life, and lack of apprehension to a new company coming in that one might see on the coasts, Marki says she has “yet to meet a person from Minnesota that I didn’t like.” The alignment of DailyPay’s culture with a city like Minneapolis was undoubtedly a large contributing factor to the move, which they made in June 2019.
A culture that focuses on the customer
Sometimes a non-HQ office can feel fairly separated from the original office, but DailyPay is making sure that while it focuses on managed and organized growth, it’s also ensuring that both offices feel valued and in the loop.
“We’re making sure that there’s always an effort and awareness that we have two offices,” says Marki, who mentioned employee resource groups, happy hours, and themed monthly meetings to bring the organization closer.
The onboarding process for all new hires is a little more personal. To really step into their user’s world and state of mind, new DailyPay employees are put in scenarios such as buying school supplies on a minimal budget and time limit. “This experience helps people come to the realization that this is something our end users face on a regular basis,” says Marki. Food and supplies purchased during these challenges are always donated afterwards, she says.
Weekly action videos are another way to showcase the emotion and drive behind DailyPay’s mission: each week, users submit stories of times when DailyPay directly aided them in paying bills, purchasing food, or in an emergency. One in particular showcased a woman and her dog, which she wasn’t able to take to the vet until she received her wages via DailyPay.
“At the start of every week, we have that story, that person who is literally saying ‘look how you helped me,’” says Marki.
This empathetic culture was something that drew both Munkittrick and Pearcy to the company. During the year that Munkittrick was consulting for DailyPay, he developed an appreciation for the mission and genuine belief the team has for the product before joining full-time in 2016. “I really understood just how beneficial it could be to help with financial wellness of working people throughout the country, and that’s why I joined.”
Coming from a structured financial background, Pearcy liked the payment space, innovation, technology and mission behind DailyPay. “My thought was, we don’t have anything like this [yet], and it’s something people really need.”
Here in the Minneapolis office, Pearcy and Munkittrick are focused not only on managing growth, but also bringing on new partners and ensuring the infrastructure is there for a good support system.
“We are growing the support side as well to ensure that we have best-in-class support for the users, because this is their pay,” says Pearcy, who explains that a good support system is essential not only for the employee users, but for employers as well.
“We’re serving two customers,” he says — the company partners and the employees working for them.
With already-established partners under its belt such as the Mall of America, the financial services startup is working on planned, healthy growth, says Marki. Hiring locally in waves to accommodate each new company partner, DailyPay isn’t just hiring just for experience, but also culture.
“We tend to hire people that don’t have the most traditional background,” she says. “We find that bringing people together that are kind and intelligent is something that we pride ourselves on.”
Currently located in Industrious, a coworking space downtown, DailyPay hopes to have a permanent space in Minneapolis by first quarter of 2020. “There’s great local talent [here],” says Marki of what helped lead DailyPay to Minneapolis. “It’s not a place that people were wanting to get away from; this was a place that they loved and wanted to stay in.”