Atif Siddiqi of Branch

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Atif Siddiqi, the founder and CEO of Branch, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Branch – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

We actually started out as a scheduling application, with the goal of creating better technology for hourly workers to pick up more shifts at their workplace and earn more income. We then realized that these employees were interested in additional shifts because of their financial challenges. That led us to start offering a portion of their earned wages ahead of payday so that they could better meet expenses or emergencies. Once that took off, we’ve since expanded further into financial services and providing users faster, free options to help them grow financially.

Employees that sign up with Branch can receive a zero-fee bank account, free instant access to earned wages, and auto-budgeting tools to help them manage their cash flow between paychecks.

We continue to work with employers to offer Branch to their employees as a benefit, but also have a consumer option so that users can keep Branch even after they leave.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

When we shifted our business model from selling a B2B SaaS product to employers to a free product for both employers and employees. It was a major transition that required thoughtfulness and new considerations for our team structure, the go to market, and business model. It was a tough but necessary hurdle to overcome that’s set us on the path we’re on today.

What does the future hold for Branch?

We look forward to continuing to grow, both as a company and in our services. While we do offer free earned wage access and other fee-free options, we want to find additional ways to help users grow financially. We’ve aligned our business model with the interest of our users and monetize off of interchange (the amount paid by a merchant to a card network every time a customer swipes), so when our users win, we win.

We also look forward to continuing to grow our partner network so that other technology providers and employers can offer Branch’s capabilities to their customers with ease. It’s so important for us to make sure that in addition to ensuring a great experience for our app users, we’re also creating that for our employers and partners.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Minneapolis?

It’s great to see so many startups emerging and expanding here. It’s evolved so much since we moved here in 2016, but remains a very accessible, friendly community. In terms of investors, we’ve seen the appetite of investors grow in just the few years we’ve been here and the angel community continues to be pretty active. I also appreciate that the Minneapolis technology scene is plugged into a larger Midwestern ecosystem that supports itself.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Start small but think big – get started with a smaller idea that you can prove out and expand. Just small steps can lead to something bigger.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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