Podcasts

Qwil’s Johnny Reinsch: ‘Our mission is to provide liquidity to SMBs and freelancers around the world’

  • Johnny Reinsch almost defaulted on his mortgage as a freelancer because of a late payment.
  • He founded Qwil so freelancers and SMBs know when they'll get paid and can choose to get paid early.
Qwil’s Johnny Reinsch: ‘Our mission is to provide liquidity to SMBs and freelancers around the world’

It wasn’t so long ago that Johnny Reinsch found himself at a local bank branch. The cofounder and CEO of Qwil was nervous that his freelancing payments weren’t coming in fast enough to cover his new mortgage. The bank? Well, even though he had always made his student loan payments through the bank and done a lot of other business with the banker, they were no help. They suggested getting a payday loan.

What’s there left to do other than start a company to alleviate the payment stress felt by freelancers and people gigging for a living? Johnny started Qwil — and while there are a slew of payday advance and invoice factoring companies around, he took a bit of a different tack. Qwil sits in between job marketplaces and the individuals who find work on these platforms. The marketplaces like Qwil because it services their members. Freelancers like it because they can get paid quicker.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Qwil’s genesis story

Uncertainty around when you’re going to get paid is the number one concern cited by freelancers and SMBs. I felt this personally when I was freelancing back in 2014. I had a longstanding client that I was doing some strategic work for. I had been working with them for months.

Like clockwork, I would get my wire to pay my invoice within a few days of the same week every month. One month, it just didn’t show up. I tracked down the person responsible for payment. Crickets. Meanwhile, I had a looming mortgage payment coming. I had previously been in the M&A world and had made for more money than I was at that time. I was really scraping to get by, picking up as many projects as I could to make ends meet.

So, even just a few days lag in this payment could force a default in my mortgage. I was getting increasingly nervous and scared about what would happen. I spoke with my bank and in spite of the fact that they could see all my good financial history, my personal banker recommended that I take out a payday loan, which present at 300 percent interest annualized in onerous terms. I just felt left out in the cold at that moment.

Qwil's Jonny Reinsch
Qwil’s Johnny Reinsch

In reflection, I solved my problem and didn’t default on my mortgage. I wondered why this happened to me and whether this happens to other people, too. There are great credit products out there when you have good credit and high FICO scores. if you’re not a full-time employee or a well-established business, there aren’t a lot of options out there.

Our system does what it does very well and it doesn’t do the things it doesn’t do. I’ve now dedicated my life to fixing this problem.

How Qwil addresses payments for freelancers

If I had just had transparency over when I was going to get paid and if I could have gotten paid earlier, I could have managed the situation better.

What Qwil does for any freelancer or SMB receiving a payment through us, you get an email at the split second point in time that your work is approved. So, you’re a software engineer, a medical provider, a last mile delivery driver — when you finish your work, we send you an email that includes the date you’ll get paid in the future. We also tell our users that if they’d like to get paid today, here’s an offer to get paid.

We take a non-recourse flat fee, like 99 cents on the dollar, so it’s not a loan. We’re essentially paying out a discounted amount so you can take funds today.

How Qwil gets in front of SMBs

When we were going to market, we had some hypotheses that certain segments of the small business and freelancer workforce would work better with us than others. But, really, the uniting theme is that everyone wants transparency around when they get paid and people want the ability to get paid early if they need to.

We cover the full range of last mile and gig platforms, all the way up to agencies that are pretty large companies themselves. We have a bunch of drone pilots that work with us. We do royalties for both independent and signed musicians. Small business doctor offices, designers, software engineers — really a broad set of skillsets.

Qwil works though freelance marketplaces, staffing firms, and sometimes just the payment rail they’re getting paid by. That’s how we get to large populations of freelancers and SMBs, so we can underwrite at scale and provide cost effective and convenient access to capital.

So, if you’re a drone pilot who has a Qwil account, it’s because we work with the drone pilot marketplace that you source work through. If you’re a software engineer, we’re probably working with the staffing firm that placed you at a Fortune 500 company.

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