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Exclusive: Construction worker pay startup Trunk Tools raises $9.9M seed

Jul 13, 2023
Illustration of a hundred dollar bill with Ben Franklin wearing a construction hat.

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Trunk Tools, a startup providing technology to help construction workers get paid faster, raised $9.9 million in seed funding, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: By speeding up worker pay and aligning incentives with employers, the startup believes it can boost productivity and safety on construction sites.

Details: The seed financing was led by Eric Schmidt's VC firm Innovation Endeavors, with participation from Fifth Wall, Foundation Capital and several others.

How it works: Trunk Tools' service grants workers access to earned wages and bonuses daily via debit cards, rather than having to wait weeks for payroll or paper checks.

  • Goals are sent via SMS, allowing workers to view tasks, check their balances, and review transactions directly from their phones without the need to download any additional apps or software.
  • The company makes money by charging a SaaS fee to construction firms, as well as through interchange fees.

Context: Prior to founding Trunk Tools, CEO Sarah Buchner spent 19 years in construction and saw first-hand the labor and safety issues employers in the construction industry have to grapple with.

  • "What we learned... was that the incentives are not aligned," Buchner says. "So we created an incentive software that tells workers, 'If you outperform your daily task, you actually get to make more money.'"

Between the lines: Trunk Tools seeks to address the skilled labor shortage by both speeding up and boosting potential payouts, thereby making construction companies more competitive as employers.

  • "A third of blue-collar workers in the United States are unbanked, so we are kind of banking the unbanked with our first product," Buchner says.

What's next: With the funding, Trunk Tools plans to expand its fintech offerings, potentially offering short-term lending, credit cards, and additional benefits such as 401k access.

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