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Why neobank Lili is putting women freelancers first

Cofounder and CEO Lilac Bar David talks about creating much-needed tools for invoicing and tax planning, and the importance of a welcoming logo.

Why neobank Lili is putting women freelancers first
Lilac Bar David CEO, Lili [Photo: Michal Chelbin]

This story is part of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2022. Explore the full list of companies that are reshaping their businesses, industries, and the broader culture.

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When Lilac Bar David cofounded neobank Lili in 2018, the former payments and banking executive wanted to create a brand that would be friendly to freelancers, a market that comprises 60 million U.S. workers, and especially to women. Taking greater control of their finances is an important step for many women who freelance; studies show that they are paid less for the same work and are also less likely to be paid on time.

David built Lili’s core features to reflect freelancers’ banking priorities, like tax planning. Then she crafted a brand that would make women feel welcome.

“The financial industry [uses] dominant names and a lot of black and blue colors,” says David, the company’s CEO. “We wanted something more smooth.”

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She also looked to help users build their businesses through educational content, in the process growing the brand’s community. The idea is to convey that “you are not alone,” she says.

Lili, with its cursive logo, has since attracted 500,000 users, 60% of whom are women.

In 2021, Lili launched Lili Pro ($4.99 a month), which supports features such as invoicing and gives freelancers tools they need to grow their income. The average user opens the Lili app 50 times per month. “It’s your money, so you want to be on top of it,” David says.

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About the author

Senior Writer Ainsley Harris joined Fast Company in 2014. Follow her on Twitter at @ainsleyoc.

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