Emergency relief startup Canary raises $1.5m pre-seed funding to reinvent access to emergency funds at work

Emergency relief startup Canary raises $1.5m pre-seed funding to reinvent access to emergency funds at work

Published: 12-01-2022 12:32:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 1595 | Tags:

Canary, an emergency relief platform that makes it easy for employers to raise and distribute tax-advantaged payments for workers experiencing financial hardships, has raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding.

The round was led by Capital One Ventures and Financial Venture Studio, with participation from Marguerite Casey Foundation, Propel Capital, Sorenson Impact Foundation, and notable strategic angel investors and operators, including Marla Blow, President and Chief Operating Officer, Skoll FoundationSusan Ehrlich, former CEO, Earnest; and Jens Molbak, to help advance Canary's objective of making emergency payments a ubiquitous and trusted part of the employee financial health infrastructure.

Over half of Americans experience a financial shock each year -- even in a "normal" (i.e., non-pandemic) year -- and over half of those households are still rebounding from the results of that shock a year later, according to Pew Charitable Trust. Meanwhile, financial stress is a major problem for employers, causing productivity losses of hundreds of millions of dollars each year. People often want to help each other in times of crisis, but managing emergency payments is administratively cumbersome and expensive.

Rachel Schneider, CEO and Co-founder, Canary: "We know that how employers treat their workforce is the #1 issue cited by Americans in defining what it means to be a just and ethical business and that most people would prefer to work for a company that cares about their financial health. Employers of choice prioritize solutions like Canary's. We are delighted that this investment, from a brilliant and supportive group of investors, enables us to expand quickly to work with more of these employers."

Adam Boutin, Partner, Capital One Ventures: "Canary fills a critical gap in an employer's toolset when it comes to helping employees lead better financial lives. While living wages, basic savings, and retirement plans are table stakes, the reality is, many employees are still vulnerable to financial hardship when something unexpected comes up. It's an incredibly powerful message when a CEO can say 'don't worry, we have your back.' The Canary team has a meaningful track record in understanding and promoting financial health – we invested because we are confident they can build a large business to serve this massive unmet need." 

Since its inception, Canary has worked with a range of emergency relief fund sponsors, from small to large employers, enabling over $1,000,000 to be distributed to individuals experiencing crises. These funds have enabled people to avoid missed rent payments, to pay for needed healthcare, and to feel less stress, and be able to show up more consistently for work. 

Ryan Falvey, Managing Partner, Financial Venture Studio: "Canary's technology-first approach provides an opportunity to turn a high touch, slow, painful process into a streamlined, efficient, dignified one, and Canary's ability to put data analysis at the center of their product delivery and innovation is unparalleled."

The funding will be used to hire new team members to support the product's rapid growth, especially building out the technical team.