PM Modi while highlighting the nation's achievements in Germany recently has said that every 10 days, one unicorn emerges in India. Speaking with the founders of the startups which have joined the Unicorn club at the mark of 100 and post that to understand the journey of becoming one and their strategic future growth plans
1. How challenging was the journey of becoming a Unicorn?
Our journey to build India’s 100th unicorn was filled with highs and lows. We never set out to become a unicorn. It happened organically for us. We were largely focused on creating value for the underserved small business fraternity. My biggest challenge in 2017 was to convince people of my idea of building a neo-bank. The concept of neo- banking was generally unheard of in India, and people were not willing to embrace the idea. I feel fortunate that we've had very supportive investors who decided to endorse the idea. The other big challenge was to convince banks to take us on. Unless I had a banking partner, I wasn’t able to bring the service to life. We worked hard to convince banks about the Open proposition and finally we cracked a partnership deal with ICICI Bank. This was a real breakthrough as we were able to launch services as well as garner the interest of international investors. This gave us a little more confidence and made us realise that we were on the right path.
Once we hit a milestone of having 100,000 SMEs registered on the Open platform, things got considerably easier for us. Tiger Global came on-board as an investor and we started attracting new talent. From then onwards, we began to make significant in-roads and we were able to grow our partnership with banks. The journey was not easy, but it has been immensely rewarding.
2. What are your next big plans?
With 61 million MSMEs in the country, we still have a long way to go. Moving forward, our focus will be on building up our lending portfolio. The platform is gearing up for the launch of three new products aimed at enhancing the capital needs of SMEs. These include Open Flo, which is an innovative revenue-based financing product for ecommerce businesses, Open Settl, an early settlement credit offering and Open Capital, which is our working capital lending offering for SMEs. Open is targeting to disburse USD 1 billion in lending through the new suite of products on the platform in the next 12 months.
We will also accelerate our existing product lines such as Zwitch and BankingStack to drive global expansion and reach over 5 million customers within the next one year. Zwitch is our no-code, low-code embedded finance platform that enables fintech and non-fintech companies to launch digital banking services, while BankingStack is our financial OS for financial institutions to launch digital banking solutions in a matter of weeks.