How Craig Lewis Helps Employees Get Paid in the Gig Economy

Providing a platform and financial tools for companies and 1099 workers

After spending most of his career working in the payroll industry, Craig Lewis thought it was time to see how technology could disrupt the space to provide more financial freedom.

A portrait of Craig Lewis

Gig Wage

Lewis is the founder and CEO of Gig Wage, curator of an online platform designed to help businesses track and make payments to 1099 workers. Lewis has been working in the payroll technology space for quite some time, helping business owners build out financial infrastructure. That's why he started his own company, to do that and more. 

"Our purpose is economic empowerment, and that's really for everyone, including gig workers, the companies that pay them, my staff, and my investors, and shareholders," Lewis told Lifewire in a phone interview.

"After years of selling payroll technology, I thought, maybe I should know how to build it and understand a little bit more about this aspect of building a company." 

Lewis launched Gig Wage in the summer of 2014 after working at a tech startup to learn the ropes of running a business. When Lewis was conceptualizing the company, he said he focused on building the "bank of the gig economy."

Gig Wage's way of doing it is through payroll and helping companies pay, manage and support all types of 1099 workers through its online platform. The company also provides financial services and tools to independent contractors who need guidance to manage their finances. 

Quick Facts

  • Name: Craig Lewis
  • Age: 39
  • From: Dallas, Texas
  • Favorite Game To Play: He’s a retired gamer thinking about dusting off his console for the return of the NCAA Football video game. 
  • Key quote or motto he lives by: "Go for it." 

Forming a Team That Will Last

Gig Wage's headquarters is in Dallas, but the company is a virtual and remote-first team with 17 employees distributed across the country. Lewis has plans to double his team by the end of the year, with some significant growth plans in motion.

When Lewis first started building out his team, he said the most challenging part was finding the right people to join the company. He tried freelancers, dev shops, and other outlets before figuring out the best way to attract developers. 

"I'm a non-technical founder. I can see it, I can architect it, I can speak it, I can understand it, but I don't necessarily build it all," he said. "It was really hard early on to find the right people to come to help me build it."

"The challenges that you experience as an entrepreneur don't change when you're Black or when you're a female; they just increase in difficulty."

Once he realized how difficult building a team was, Lewis went all in and gave his primary focus to finding the right baseline people to get his venture off of the ground. For about two years, Gig Wage operated with only about five or six full-time employees before landing some significant venture capital to expand. 

"Up until our last funding round, we were slow to hire. We stayed tight, small and mighty," Lewis said.

Gig Wage has raised about $13 million in venture capital to date, and the company recently closed a $2.5 million Series A funding round in January. Lewis said 60% of that recent funding will go toward finding the technical talent that Gig Wage needs.

Built to Overcome 

Gig Wage didn't miss a beat operationally when the pandemic hit. Still, Lewis said the company saw a significant uptick in business as full-time professionals switched to independent contractors and companies tapped into freelancers as a more creative way of staffing. Lewis saw that companies started changing from traditional payroll companies to Gig Wage because they wanted more flexible payroll services. 

"From the business perspective, it's been an accelerant for us," Lewis said. 

Craig Lewis (center) with some of his Gig Wage team members.

Gig Wage

While building a business can be challenging for any entrepreneur, there are many hurdles Lewis has had to face while building his company as a Black man. He said he's often been the only person in the room that looks like him, but he's audacious and likes to say he's "built for it" when pushing through the challenges. 

"The challenges that you experience as an entrepreneur don't change when you're Black or when you're female; they just increase in difficulty," Lewis said.

"Raising money becomes 10 times harder, and one of the big things that people don't talk about outside of access to venture capital and investors is the business contracts and opportunities we don't get because we are minorities."

As Lewis continues to grow his company, he's most focused on building a diverse and inclusive team. Hiring is the most critical aspect of Gig Wage's growth plans right now as the company wants to establish itself as the go-to financial infrastructure for the gig economy. 

"We want to become a recognized brand when people think of payment challenges in this space," he concluded. 

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