Passionfruit, GenZ’s freelance platform, has closed a $3.6 million starting round in an oversubscribed deal led by firstminute Capital and Playfair, with participation from FJ Labs and Portfolio Ventures. Other participants include scout networks Atomico, Accel and Notion, as well as angels like Mandeep Singh (Trouva), Xav Collins (Turo) and executives from Stripe, Airbnb and Workday. This follows a pre-seed round in December of $700k led by Playfair.
Passionfruit is the first platform to offer GenZ a true and robust choice between on-the-job work and freelancing by recreating and improving the end-to-end range of services that provide full-time employment.
Currently, a career as a freelancer is primarily limited to those with pre-existing networks and support structures, meaning the overall pool of high-quality talent available to companies is unnecessarily limited.
Today, freelancers spend at least 45% of their time finding new clients, managing administrative burdens and upskilling. Having to manage everything themselves means that many simply cannot afford to leave the full-time corporate pillow, where work, learning and earning are centrally controlled, even if they are tired of their work.
Passion fruit radically changes the freelancer’s day-to-day experience.
Rather than scrambling for work, managing finances in an Excel spreadsheet, and feeling isolated, Passion Fruit specialists receive a briefing tailored to their skills and interests, have an overview of their annual earnings, and are part of a close-knit community through a near-peer mentorship program. While the initial bridgehead was with marketing specialists, over time they will expand into adjacent disciplines to meet customer demand.
Raffi Salama, co-founder of Passionfruit, says: “Instead of yet another freelancer platform that simply digitizes transactions that could and would happen without it, Passionfruit is launching a completely new workforce. Gen Z will represent 27% of the global workforce by 2025 and it was so inspiring to see our specialists say goodbye to the Victorian age structure of the 9-5 and start a new life on their own terms. In fact, companies like to work with them in this way.
Smart companies are realizing that there is a more elastic and efficient way to manage their relationship with talent.”
Issah Abdul-Moomin, co-founder of Passionfruit, adds: “Until now, freelancing has been restricted to a select group of people who access work through private offline networks. We are here to make it feasible for the masses. We’re not saying, of course, that no one will ever work full-time again, just that there are tens of millions of young people who would rather organize their professional lives differently. We are here to give them that choice.”
Passionfruit was founded by Raffi Salama and Issah Abdul-Moomin, who met in Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP Fellowship programme. Since then, Raffi has been part of the launch team of David Beckham and Softbank’s new MLS franchise Inter Miami, while Issah became Corporate Development Director at Group M, the world’s largest media buying firm.
The startup has already gained hundreds of specialists and clients in the EU, UK and US. Passionfruit will use the new financing to expand its product offering and expand its commercial reach deeper into increasingly larger companies in Europe and North America. Passionfruit has its head office in London and an office in Lisbon, Portugal.
Adriana Vitagliano, Senior Associate at First Minute Capital, says:
“As we look to the coming decades, corporate monogamy will no longer exist in the same way and we are excited to see how the right platform can completely reshape the freelance economy experience. Raffi and Issah are exceptional entrepreneurs, passionate, thoughtful and astute and we couldn’t imagine a more perfect duo to take on this challenge. We believe they will lead the way by democratizing access to flexible autonomy for the next generation, and are excited to partner with the Passionfruit team on this journey.”
Henrik Wetter Sanchez, director of Playfair Capital, says: “Raffi and Issah have the uncanny ability to appear to be working in the future. Being two steps ahead in your thinking and execution is the hallmark of founders who can not only track, but lead, category-defining shifts in industries. I couldn’t be more convinced by their vision of a freelance-led Gen Z workforce in dire need of a demand-driven digital home to work, learn, and earn. I am delighted to see Playfair triple in this round and continue to build Passionfruit together with this team.”