Propel raises $50m Series B to help Americans with low income make it through the month, every month
Today we are excited to announce that we have raised $50M in a Series B led by Nyca Partners, with participation from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, and Flourish Ventures. We were also thrilled to welcome in new investors like JPMorgan Chase, Salesforce Ventures, and Mischief, along with cultural icons Jared Leto and Jeremy Lin with support from Andreessen Horowitz’s Cultural Leadership Fund network. Founded through a fellowship at Blue Ridge Labs at Robin Hood Foundation in 2014, Propel has always held the belief that, by aligning impact and business model, it is possible to build a thriving business incentivized to serve Americans with low income through world-class technology.
We live in a country with stark income inequality. The bottom 50% of American households by income earn on average $22.5k per year, and their average incomes have risen only $2k since the year 2000 (compared to the top 10%, whose income has grown by $140k on average).
“The daily experience of poverty in America isn’t represented by charts and economic figures — it is calling the 1–800 number to check your EBT balance, it is getting charged a surprise overdraft fee by your bank because your income and bills didn’t quite line up, it is paying someone hundreds of dollars to do your taxes because you can’t afford to not receive your maximum refund,” said Jimmy Chen, Propel’s founder and CEO. “Propel aims to solve these problems — rooted in user experience, alignment in business models, and dignity — in order to make a dent on the much larger problem of poverty in America.”
Propel builds Providers, a free mobile app used by over 5 million families across the country each month. Instead of calling a 1–800 number to check EBT balance, users of the app can seamlessly see their balance and transaction history. Providers is the #1 EBT mobile app in the country; 1 in 4 Americans who receives SNAP benefits is a current monthly active user. Propel’s user base has grown by more than 2 million households over the past two years.
While checking their balance, a Providers user might see updated information about the Child Tax Credit (3 million people in 2021), apply for a job (300,000 people in 2021), or open up a no-hidden-fee Providers debit card (millions registered after the launch in summer 2021). In 2021, we helped more than 1.4 million households access affordable internet through the Emergency Broadband Program; we partnered with the White House to connect more than 1 million households to their local resource for Emergency Rental Assistance; and since the start of the pandemic we partnered with GiveDirectly to get 200,000 Providers users no-strings-attached cash grants, totaling $200 million in grants distributed. These are just some of the examples of how Providers helps Americans with low income to manage their benefits and money so they can make it through the month, every month.
“It’s quick to update my EBT and cash balances and the Providers debit card works great too. The app shows you other assistance potentially available to you as well. It is how I found out about the free cell phone and service via Assurance Wireless,” said Jon Bartholomew, a Providers user in a review on the Google Play Store.
“Propel is a truly unique company in financial services: it is completely dedicated to a customer base which is ignored by everyone else. Propel’s commitment to achieving its mission through building a flourishing business is one of a kind,” said Hans Morris, Managing Partner of Nyca Partners. “We are very proud to support them in building a category-defining business that also sets a high standard of what a technology company can be.”
With the opportunity provided by the Series B, Propel aims to deepen its impact. By helping people manage both their benefits and their money through world-class technology, Propel has a generational opportunity to make a positive impact on the wallets of Americans with low income, which represents the bottom 50% of earners in this country. We’re building the experience that Americans with low income deserve — one that is modern, respectful, and effective in relieving them from the grind of daily financial stress, of making it through the month each month, and achieving their financial goals.