Impact 20-2020-Propel
Courtesy of PropelCourtesy of Propel

    What if you still had to call a 1-800 number every single time you wanted to check your bank-account balance? That’s somehow still the reality for the 40 million Americans on food stamps—minus the 4 million who are now using the crucial, should-be-basic smartphone app created by startup Propel. Its Fresh EBT app allows users to check their food-stamp balances immediately, instead of waiting on hold with the government. Since the onset of COVID-19, Propel has also introduced new tech to help users figure out how to get more immediate access to their stimulus checks, and it has distributed more than $100 million in donations to its users, in $1,000 increments.

    Founder and CEO Jimmy Chen was four years old when he emigrated to the U.S. with his parents, who sometimes struggled to put food on the table. He went on to work for Facebook and LinkedIn, and now he gets annoyed about tech companies that focus only on wealthier and more lucrative customers, “leaving very low-income Americans with incredibly poor services.” His efforts to change that status quo have helped build a company now valued at more than $54 million, after Propel raised more than $18 million from investors including Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz, Kevin Durant, and Serena Williams.

    Company information

    HeadquartersBrooklyn, N.Y.
    CEOJimmy Chen
    No. of employees (approximate)40
    InvestorsKleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz, Kevin Durant, Serena Williams