In Conversation With Yashwardhan Aeren, Co-founder And Chief Growth Officer, Ruptok Fintech Pvt. Ltd

In an interview with BW Disrupt, Yashwardhan Aeren, Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer, Ruptok Fintech Pvt. Ltd. talks about the company's inception, situation during the lockdown, competitors and more.

Ruptok Fintech Pvt. Ltd. is technology enabled platform for financial institutions offering logistics and technology solutions for gold loans at competitive prices. Headquartered in Delhi, the company was founded in July 2020 by Ankur Gupta, serial entrepreneur & Founder and CEO; Akshita Gupta, serial entrepreneur & Co-founder, and Yashwardhan Aeren, Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer. At present, the company operates in Delhi NCR and intends to penetrate Jaipur and Mumbai by March 2021. Ruptok is backed by ABL Workspaces Private Limited, a premium co-working space and has recently raised Angel Funding from Wurk, a Canada based Investment Firm.

1. Brief us about your business model like how did the idea came to start and how does it work (step by step procedure)?

Ruptok's business model is to partner with asset backed lending institutions (Banks and NBFCs) to provide doorstep delivery of loans to customers on their behalf and charge a commission for its services. We intend to offer technology and logistics solutions to our partners which mutually benefit both parties rather than getting competitive with each other. Recognising the huge demand and scope of growth in gold loans, we have started our operations with gold loans, designing various types of flexible schemes to cater to the needs of every type of customer.

The COVID imposed lockdown in 2020 gave the founders time and perspective to evaluate this industry and design an action plan to kickstart this business. Easing and enhancing the customer's experience is at the heart of all business done by Ruptok and we are confident that with this approach, we will achieve success at Ruptok.

2. Explain the services of Ruptok Fintech Pvt Ltd.  

Ruptok offers doorstep service of gold loans to customers wherein after scheduling an appointment with the customer, Ruptok's executive reaches the customer's house at the fixed time and processes customer KYC and jewellery evaluation. The entire process takes about 30 minutes and only after the loan amount has been credited to the customer, the executive leaves with the customer's jewellery secured in a sealed tamper-proof packet.

3. What are the unique key points of your company? How are you different from the existing competitors?

Being a company born during the lockdown, we believe our model and processes are both - efficient and remote. While there are a few players now who have adopted a similar business model, we believe we have an edge with our technology and customer-centric approach. 

4.What is the funding status and monetization model?

After achieving a successful proof of concept with promoters' seed fund, we recently closed an angel round of growth funding of USD 1.3 million to facilitate our operations and growth. In terms of our monetisation, we charge a commission on our services from our lending partners and are projected to achieve profitability by FY 2022-23.

5. What challenges are you facing in running your business?

The huge demand for gold loans in 2020 meant that within days of launching operations, we were swarmed by customer requests and our huge challenge was to quickly adapt our operations and processes to cater to those requests. After a couple of months of operations, we had the challenge of requiring funds to expand our team and to expand our operations to other cities in India. After overcoming those challenges and securing funds, our next big challenge was in scaling operations all over India and eventually penetrating into small towns and rural areas as well to achieve financial inclusion of the masses, which we believe is a key factor in India for achieving the ambition of becoming a global superpower. 

6. How has been the people's response so far?

The fact that we launched our operations right after the COVID imposed lockdowns meant that there was a huge spurt in real demand for loans among middle- and low-income groups who do not have the credit worthiness and infrastructure to avail more formal avenues of lending. Gold is a commodity that is held in some capacity by almost every Indian household and hence, gold loans provide them with a perfect opportunity to monetise the jewellery without actually selling it. 

Our flexible repayment offerings, quick customer service and industry high value for gold led to us building a substantial loan book without spending huge money on marketing and also led to many referrals from our happy customers.  

7. What are the traction details (like customers, website visits, orders, growth in business past few years & other achievements of the company)?

Currently we are at a capacity of processing loans worth Rs 1 crore every week and are increasing this capacity exponentially. 

8. How do you look at expansion?

Having launched operations in New Delhi, we slowly branched out to other connecting regions within NCR and are on our way to be operational in Mumbai and Jaipur by March 2021. Following that, we intend to further launch operations in 22 cities across India within 12-18 months while also simultaneously penetrating neighbouring towns and cities in existing operational cities.

9. What are your marketing plans?

So far, we have tested out various small scale marketing activities to understand our target market better and see what resonates with them. Digital marketing, SEO etc. have proven to be quite successful and we plan to set up a marketing division soon to be able to plan macro level marketing and branding strategies.

10. What has been the biggest learnings so far?

Some of our biggest learnings so far include that there is an acceptability of the digital processing of gold loans among people and that designing and tweaking schemes according to the needs and feedback of our customers is the best service we could provide.

11. What is the market size and opportunity?

The overall gold loan market in India is estimated to be worth over Rs 4 lac crores and growing exponentially. While the typical brick and mortar models have established gold loans as a legitimate household product and created mass awareness for it, they are restricted in their reach due to capital extensive models and limited reach of branches. The industry is ready to be disrupted by digital players to enable penetration into the remotest of areas and offer fair, fast and flexible solutions to a group of people that are largely exploited financially and have very limited avenues to get out of poverty and debt traps.

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