Wharton FinTech
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Wharton FinTech

Liran Zelkha, Co-Founder and CTO of Lili — Upgrading the Financial Stack for Freelance Workers

In today’s episode, I’m joined by Liran Zelkha, Co-Founder and CTO of Lili. Lili is an all-in-one banking app designed for over 500K freelance workers.

Liran and I cover a range of topics, including:

The Startup Ecosystem in Israel:
Liran and I talk about what makes Israel such a prosperous startup ecosystem. Liran mentions that his close friends, brother, and father all have startups of their own. He believes the ecosystem has network effects, with everyone around him talking about new ideas and acting as a role model for startup management.

The Problems Freelancers Face with Personal Finance:
Because of this entrepreneurial environment, Liran also knows many freelancers, and deeply understands the problems freelancers face with invoicing, tax payments, expense management, and more. Liran even mentions how frequently freelancers write off payments they believe they will never receive, even for a job well done. These issues have only grown in the last decade, as the freelancer and creator economy have continued to boom. Many freelancers have also faced greater income volatility during the covid-19 pandemic than other professional groups. Liran and his co-founder Liliac set up Lili to help ease these issues— hoping to move as fast as possible to provide upgraded products to freelancer workers.

Building Lili:
The first product launched at Lili was a tax-saving tool — designed to automatically set aside a certain percentage of freelancer income for future tax payments. Currently, freelancers either do this by hand or on excel and frequently find that at the end of the year they need to make significant payments to the IRS. Lili also built tools to help freelancers categorize expenses — the tools deduct work expenses from taxable income and help freelancers save the appropriate amount. The company launched Lili Pro six months ago, a platform for more advanced freelancing which includes invoicing, fee-free overdraft protection, and more. To sign up for Lili in the U.S, all you need is an SSN and 3 minutes.


Liran Zelkha:
Liran Zelkha is Co-Founder and CTO of Lili, the all-in-one banking app designed for over 500K freelance workers. He has over 20 years of tech industry experience, including as a freelancer, which inspired him to create a solution for independent workers’ unique pain points. From strategic management to hands-on coding, Liran specializes in turning lofty ideas into functioning businesses. Prior to founding Lili, Liran served as CTO and VP, Research and Development for Pepper, the first and only challenger bank in Israel. Liran was also CEO and CTO at tech consulting firm Tona and owner / co-CEO of Aluna, Israel’s leading Java and service-oriented architecture (SOA) consulting firm. Liran received bachelor’s degrees in computer science from Universitat Ben Gurion Ba-Negav and The Academic College of Tel-Aviv. He is based in Israel.


About the Author:
Anirudh Singh is a second-year MBA Candidate at The Wharton School, where he is part of the Wharton FinTech Podcast team. He has a passion for economic development, venture capital, financial services, and all things FinTech. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, comments, feedback, and opportunities at singhan@wharton.upenn.edu.

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We are FinTech thought leaders connecting innovators, academics, and investors with the ideas and products that are reinventing global financial services.

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Anirudh Singh

Anirudh Singh

Wharton MBA Candidate, Fintech Enthusiast, Early Stage Investing

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