By Lauren K. Ohnesorge
Fueled by a Walmart contract and a recent $40 million funder, Oakland, California-based Even is expanding to Raleigh, picking the city over Atlanta and Tampa for its new East Coast headquarters.
The move has Even, co-founded by longtime Raleigh resident Quinten Farmer, following the money east – as Durham-based Bull City Venture Partners participated in its latest fundraise alongside other investors.
In exclusive interviews, Even COO Farmer and BCVP cofounder Jason Caplain talk about the company, the move and what’s next.
Now based in California, Farmer is a North Carolina native, having lived in Raleigh from age three through college.
And it was at his alma mater, North Carolina State University, where Farmer first met Jason Caplain, a founding venture capitalist with Bull City Venture Partners.
It’s not uncommon for Caplain to interact with entrepreneurship students. Back then, he was working to showcase the region to fledgling entrepreneurs. N.C. State had a program where it would take students to Silicon Valley, exposing them to big name tech brands. “They’d get the students all excited about Silicon Valley,” Caplain recalls. “So I heard about that, and built a program to showcase our own companies, in our own backyard.”
That’s where he met Farmer about a decade ago.
The pair stayed in touch and, when Farmer was in town in December, he gave Caplain a call. “I wasn’t sure he’d remember me,” Farmer says.
He did. “We were chatting about their success, what they’re doing,” Caplain says.
And Farmer happened to mention that they were looking at expanding – a statement Caplain says he jumped on. “So we talked about the momentum happening in the Raleigh-Durham area,” Caplain says.
Farmer found it enticing.
Even had been growing. The firm partners with Fortune 500 companies, offering apps that integrate with attendance, payroll and banking systems to help enterprise employees understand their financial health. Even offers apps that instantly budget, as well as help employees automatically save money out of their paychecks – even before it hits their bank balances.
And it was in the midst of landing its biggest client yet – Walmart.
The firm needed an east coast headquarters for the time zone. But the specifics of the location were always going to center around talent, he says. “We started thinking about finance, engineering teams,” Farmer recalls, noting that the Triangle was a “clear leading option” from the beginning when the universities came into the conversation.
Farmer says the chat with Caplain solidified the pick. But it didn’t stop there. The more they talked about the business model, the more Caplain wanted to participate as an investor. “It’s pretty rare to see a company be able to penetrate a large enterprise like Walmart so quickly,” Caplain says. “I think that got us interested pretty early on.”
The Walmart deal is now a big part of the company’s early success, as 15 percent of all its employees are using Even. Caplain says that’s just the start. “Many employees are having to get into debt or find other means to pay bills,” Caplain says. “They go to things like payday loans or find other solutions which are very, very expensive. I think this solves a really big need in America.”
In the meantime, Even is building out its Raleigh headcount. Farmer says Even has already made nine hires, and is actively looking for employees in customer operations, finance and engineering. “We definitely expect this office to grow quickly and really, what we’re looking for right now in terms of recruiting, it’s finding those people who will be the foundational culture creators,” he says.
By the end of the year, Even expects to have 20 people working in Raleigh.
And Farmer doesn’t expect to have issues competing for talent. “Our experience has been that mission-oriented companies who have a great story to tell… can offer growth and advancement opportunities, those companies do well no matter what the competition is,” he says.
Right now, it’s operating out of Industrious. But plans are underway to find its own office in the near future.