Gig marketplace Jitjatjo raises $30M to grow into new markets
Jitjatjo, a gig marketplace through which businesses can book workers with as little as an hour’s notice, today announced that it raised $30 million in a Series B funding round led by Morningside Technology Ventures.
The new cash, which brings Jitjatjo’s total raised to around $65 million, will be put toward bringing the platform to new markets and supporting Jitjatjo’s go-to-market strategy, co-founder and CEO Tim Chatfield said.
Chatfield founded Jitjatjo in 2015 while working at AWS as an executive producer of the company’s livestreaming events, particularly the keynotes at re:Invent, AWS’ annual developer conference. He left AWS in 2018 to focus full-time on Jitjatjo.
“The company’s vision is to use technology to transform how businesses find and manage temporary staff,” Chatfield told TechCrunch in an email interview. “The founders, with backgrounds in technology and hospitality, saw a gap in the market for a more efficient, tech-driven approach to staffing.”
Jitjatjo is, in many ways, a typical gig marketplace — comparable to platforms like Shiftsmart and Qwick. Organizations in healthcare, hospitality, education, retail and facilities management leverage the platform’s matching algorithm to find workers for temp openings.
Gig workers complete any necessary paperwork through Jitjatjo’s smartphone apps, which is also where they indicate their hourly and daily availability. Jitjatjo pays through a debit card or direct deposit and incentivizes workers to complete more gigs with an in-app rating system, where high ratings weigh the gig-matching algorithm in their favor.
“[We] leverage AI to streamline operations and prioritize internal resource allocation, reducing labor costs by optimizing workforce efficiency before considering external outsourcing,” Chatfield said. “[We see ourselves competing] with traditional staffing agencies and other tech-driven staffing platforms and talent marketplaces.”
Gig work was big before the pandemic. But it’s the surge in the demand for delivery platforms — and the mass exodus of full-time workers from the hospitality and service industries — during the pandemic that drastically expanded the workforce.
A University of Chicago paper found that the number of people in the U.S. who report income from platform-based gig work grew from one million workers to nearly five million in recent years. Flex, a trade association representing DoorDash, Grubhub, HopSkipDrive, Instacart, Lyft, Shipt and Uber, estimates that more than 23 million Americans earned money through a gig platform from July 2022 to July 2023.
But the growth of gig work hasn’t come with more protections for gig workers, necessarily — who often pay their own payroll taxes and are forced to trade access to benefits such as health insurance, unemployment insurance, workers’ comp and retirement savings in exchange for “flexible” working hours.
Gig workers can be penalized for canceling jobs over reasons protected by law in traditional employment, like getting sick with COVID. After fees and commissions are deducted from paychecks, some workers make sub-minimum wages; a 2022 survey found that an estimated 14% of gig workers earn less than $7.25 per hour while 26% earn less than $10 per hour. And workers have little leverage against the platforms for which they work — even in the face of opaque details about when work will be available, where they’ll have to perform it and how they’ll be evaluated.
So is Jitjatjo better than rival platforms in any of these respects? Somewhat.
Jitjatjo offers a benefits package, Better, which provides life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment insurance, counseling services and prescription discounts along with money-saving offers at retail. For an additional $1 per week, workers can get additional insurance coverage, pet wellness and roadside assistance through insurance startup Avibra.
And, unlike on some gig platforms, workers on Jitjatjo are classified as W-2 employees, not 1099 — meaning they aren’t responsible for their own payroll taxes come tax day.
Other aspects of Jitjatjo are more troubling, however.
Employers can use the platform to track an employee’s locations even before a shift starts — a potential privacy concern. (In response to a question about this, Chatfield said that Jitjatjo is “committed to user privacy and data security” and that its policies “include strict guidelines on data retention and usage.”). Average hourly pay for some gigs on the platform is as low as $12.99 per hour, according to self-reported data on Indeed.com — below the minimum wage in a number of states. And according to app reviews on the Apple App Store and Google Play, Jitjatjo’s platform suffers from bugs that can result in gigs being missed or premature clock-outs — and pay being delayed.
But none of that appears to have impacted Jitjatjo’s growth.
Chatfield says that NYC-based Jitjatjo, which now employs around 120 full-time employees, has more than 40,000 gig workers on its marketplace and “thousands” of customers spanning three continents, including Australia.
“Jitjatjo’s technology represents a scalable, efficient enterprise-grade solution for managing shift-based workforces, reducing overheads and improving operational efficiency,” Chatfield said. “Jitjatjo is a scalable solution for businesses with a contingent labor strategy, enabling organizations to safely bring the gig economy and flexible work inside, further meeting the demands of the next-generation workforce … [The platform boosts] employee satisfaction and retention through engaging training, real-time feedback and recognition, fostering a positive and productive workplace.”
Hopefully, Jitjatjo’s gig workers agree.
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