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The Hustler's Guide To Getting Paid

with @bhorowitz @shakasenghor ram @earnin & vaughn ferguson

Hustlin’ Tech is a new show (part of the a16z Podcast) that introduces the technology platforms — and mindsets — for everybody and anybody who has the desire, the talent, and the hustle to do great things. Read more about it here.

Episode #2, “The Hustler’s Guide to Getting Paid” (early, but actually, on time) features Ram Palianappan, CEO and founder of Earnin, which allows workers to access their pay instantly with no fees or interest; Vaughn Ferguson, who uses Earnin to avoid overdraft fees or payday loans -- both interviewed by Ben Horowitz and Shaka Senghor.

"Just knowing that more people are really using these things that are out there, to their advantage and not their detriment."

music: Chris Lyons

Updated on September 06

Key Smash Notes In This Episode


After leaving a penitentiary after two decades of being locked up, Shaka started by selling his own books out of the trunk of his car. He knocked on doors and share shared his vision. Lots of hustle and some luck later, he is now a New York Times best selling author.


According to Ram Palianappan, the CEO and founder of Earnin, 40% of the people in America cannot find $400 in their bank account when they need it.

Unlike it might sound, this is not just a problem for the unemployed, but for people who are employed and getting paid, but simply need money off-cycle with their paycheck.

When someone's living paycheck-to-paycheck, and need money on Wednesday but the pay is only arriving on Friday, they are forced to seek other options, like aggressive Pay-Day loans and bank overdraft fees.

Earning is a project that came out of Ram's desire to fix this pay cycle discrepancy for his employees by enabling anyone to get paycheck funds whenever they need them.


People spend more on their overdraft fees than they do on fresh vegetables. By paying when they need the money, it is possible to take people out of a vicious cycle of making money just to pay the fees.


Half of the bankruptcies in this country are now due to medical bills because even people who have insurance, might be unable to pay the high deductibles. At a click of a button Earnin is able to provide patients a payment plan, and sometimes a lower bill and/or some financial aid.

Editor's note: If you'd like to read more about how medical bills can wreck a life, take a look at this episode: To get paid, hospitals get creative.


When the old system, like pay-day loans, is broken, people tend to stay away from anything new that tries to replace it, for the fear that new system is going to be even worse. However, technology tends to make our lives better, and it is important to show that more value lies in trying new approaches, however skeptical one might be about them.

If you are a founder of a company that is trying to sell a revolutionary new approach, you just have to knock on doors, share your vision and sell your product. You gotta hustle!


Business are starting to adopt to a flexible pay schedule because access to money at any time enables their employees to be less stressed and therefore more productive.


Earnin is using the smart phone to analyze whether their users are actually working or not, and therefore able to trust their users to pay the money back. Traditional loan businesses have no visibility like that and therefore have to charge very high fees to pad their loses.

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