Parker: Calgary-based ZayZoon gives employees access to earned wages to ease financial stress

ADP awarded ZayZoon Partner of the Year 2023, recognizing its exceptional contributions to helping companies improve financial well-being, increase productivity and retain top talent

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Based in Calgary, ZayZoon is ranked as one of the top-10 growth companies in Canada by CIX awards program, yet to date has done no business in this country.

ZayZoon is the result of a fast-paced story beginning with Darcy Tuer’s entrepreneurial ventures when he launched Halo Networks, which digitally captured data in the field to improve engineering analysis.

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The company was successful, but Tuer had a desire to be involved with a business that would help those less fortunate than himself. For a long time, he had been concerned about people who had to overspend on their credit cards or visit moneylenders until their next paycheque, and too often had difficulty repaying the loans.

He was introduced to Tate Hackert, who was living on Vancouver Island and had similar concerns. An economics grad from the University of Victoria, Hackert had worked for an uncle on his fishing boat and earned a considerable amount of money, which he used to make short-term loans to good people who were experiencing a few bad breaks.

The two new friends hit it off and together developed a proof-of-concept to help people with monetary need by providing earned wage access (EWA) from employers that would allow their employees to access their hard-earned wages at any time, with no cost to business.

Tuer (CEO) and Hackert (president) then met Jamie Ha at an event for startup companies. Ha, a finance graduate of Haskayne School of Business, had been an investment banker for 14 years with FirstEnergy Capital and had retired as managing director of corporate finance.

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He had the idea of rather than advising people on how to invest their money, he would invest his own into building and operating a purposeful business.

After listening to the idea behind ZayZoon, he became the third co-founder (CFO), able to lend his financial acumen to launching the company in 2016.

Starting with the idea of becoming an EWA provider for small and mid-size businesses was not an easy task; in fact, despite having raised interim capital here, no company in Canada showed any interest in their offerings.

Undeterred, they invested $5,000 to secure a booth at a payroll conference in Portland, Ore., where they presented their business idea to dozens of companies. They came home with contracts with five partners — today ZayZoon has more than 180 in the U.S., including ADP, a global provider of comprehensive payroll and HR solutions.

They understood the benefits to employees — no longer bound by traditional pay periods and free to easily access a percentage of the wages they have already earned, whenever they want. Tuer says much of this is spent on the necessities of food, gas and medications.

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And employers using ZayZoon reduce financial stress in the workplace, attract and keep staff, and save money in processing payroll advances.

ADP awarded ZayZoon Partner of the Year 2023, recognizing its exceptional contributions to helping companies improve financial well-being, increase productivity and retain top talent.

Today, ZayZoon has 120 employees on its own payroll — 50 working out of the Calgary office and others in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Toronto and Scottsdale, Ariz., where 40 are located. By year-end it expects to have a staff of 200.

Through ATB, it has a $20-million capital pool and deploys $1 million a day. It closed a US$14.5-million Series B round, led by Framework Ventures and Export Development Canada, and recently closed a Series B US$15 million extension led by Viola FinTech and Intuit.

Tuer says he is happy to remain headquartered in Calgary, which is fast becoming a FinTech hub, and is excited to share that in July the company will be expanding its offerings into Canada.

Notes:

After commissioning a third-party analysis that named Blackline Safety devices the best lone worker solution on the global markets, an Australian corporation has chosen the Calgary firm and its Australian channel partner in a $1.4-million deal to protect its 800 water utility workers. The latest in a series of contracts Blackline Safety has announced with water utility providers, its devices currently protect half of the water and wastewater companies in the United Kingdom.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622.

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