Bandana Raises $3.8 Million Seed Round
Bandana Raises $3.8M from General Catalyst and Craft Ventures to Transform the Livelihoods of the Working Class
New York, NY - Bandana, a people-first online job platform built to improve the livelihoods of the working class, announced $3.8M in seed funding today. Lead investors General Catalyst and Craft Ventures are joined by Triple Impact Capital, Sarah Smith Fund, and other notable angel investors. The new funding is to help expand the job platform throughout New York City across hourly workforce-supported industries as well as hire mission-driven individuals who resonate with Bandana’s worker-first vision. Bandana unveils its name and brand alongside this funding announcement, featuring a brand strategy and visual identity to present the core idea: Jobs For the People. Bandana partnered with Motto, a strategic branding company serving visionary tech companies, for the branding.
More than 80 million Americans are employed on an hourly wage basis; however, they currently face a significant deficit in terms of access to essential tools, resources, and advice necessary for enhancing their quality of life. This disparity is particularly evident within the hourly job marketplace, where even in the year 2023, available choices frequently lack fundamental transparency regarding crucial aspects such as compensation, healthcare, perks, commuting, and other vital job-related details.
“As an hourly wage worker, your job search options are poor everywhere you go, whether that’s in New York City or anywhere else across the country,” said co-founder and CEO Timothy Makalinao. “The existing job sites aren’t built for the people looking for the jobs; they’re built for the businesses that are hiring. Frustrated job-seekers even look for jobs in Facebook groups and subreddits where people post pictures of paper job flyers they see on the street. Bandana is built for the worker first, rather than treating them as a replaceable commodity.”
Bandana’s job search platform, which currently covers hourly roles in New York City, provides job-seekers with an intuitive platform tailored to their needs. This starts with only posting jobs with healthcare plans along with a starting base wage that is more than $17 per hour. Upon sign-up, users can quickly filter jobs by pay, benefits, location, and other key criteria that matters most for their individual situation.
After expanding its coverage of high-quality hourly jobs in New York City — a city that garnered an estimated $1.3bn in online job advertising revenue in 2022 alone — the company plans to expand its transparency-focused approach to job search to other major metropolitan areas across America. But beyond job search alone, Bandana also has broader plans for the platform.
“Bandana believes that the worker comes first, starting with finding better jobs,” said Makalinao. “But there’s a lot more we can do once we help people find a better job. We want to help them improve their entire livelihood, whether that’s through financial planning, education, and whatever else takes them one step closer to their American dream.”
Bandana’s broader mission to improve the lives of hourly workers is the next step on a personal journey for Makalinao, who immigrated with his family to the U.S. from the Philippines when he was six years old. Upon arrival, his mother worked an hourly job—with no benefits—as the family’s sole income source.
"We first lived in my relative’s basement and then an apartment where my parents slept on the floor, with me and my brother on a twin-sized bed,” Makalinao recalled. "Even after we were more stable, my mom still commuted four hours daily so my brother and I could have a room separate from them."
Makalino’s personal experiences have been key to the early success of the company: the initial release saw tens of thousands of visitors, without spending a single dollar of marketing spend. The long-term vision, however, extends much further than job search alone.
“While we are laser-focused today on our job search solutions, the broader goal is to provide worker-focused solutions to all aspects of life,” Makalinao explained. “From upskilling to career guidance to financial planning, Bandana is creating the modern day tools for working class Americans to manage their livelihood—something that’s been long overdue. We are for the people.”
Joining Makalinao are co-founders Caleb Lee and Larry Zhang, both close friends from their Harvard undergraduate days a decade prior. The experience of the three spans the business, finance, and technology worlds, with roles held at Retool, Citadel, McKinsey, Meta, Mastercard, and others. With the funding, the trio are launching Bandana’s updated job platform and hiring engineering talent to help the company expand across verticals and geographies beyond New York City.
“Bandana aims to help workers access high quality job opportunities, make more money, enjoy increased flexibility and upskill themselves,” said Niko Bonatsos, Managing Director at General Catalyst. “At GC our mission is to invest in positive and powerful change that endures. We found excellent alignment with Tim, Caleb and Larry's mission for Bandana and got really excited by the opportunity to co-lead their seed round.”
“Bandana is laser-focused on enabling hourly workers to find the best job for them, whether that’s judged by pay, benefits, proximity, or other factors," said Lainy Painter, Partner at Craft Ventures. "Their platform takes a novel approach to guiding workers through key inflection points on the path to better livelihoods. We're thrilled to support their mission of empowering this overlooked workforce segment.”
After Bandana’s initial job search platform successfully attracted 30,000-plus job-seekers with zero marketing spend, the company has now opened sign-ups for the re-envisioned Bandana platform at bandana.co. Bandana plans to open the platform in the fall populated with thousands of active hourly jobs throughout New York City.