How Zebpay is Gaining Ground In India
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Born and brought up in a Marwari family in Ahmedabad, Saurabh Agrawal did his MBA from London before joining his family business. With an entrepreneurial background, clear intent, and support from family, Agrawal left his family businesses to join Zeb IT Service Private limited.
“I love technology and keep myself updated about the latest advancements in almost anything. While browsing through some financial technology articles, I came across an article on bitcoins in 2012 when it was creating hype with potential to replace fiat currency. The curiosity to explore bitcoin world and belief in its potential to revamp financial infrastructure led to my next bitcoin venture and leadership philosophy,” recalled Agrawal.
People in India were aware about bitcoin and benefits associated with it, but they did not know where to buy them from and also don't have avenues to spend them. This was how Zebpay wallet was conceptualized to make bitcoins easy and simple to use.
“It works just like popular instant messaging apps using mobile number and 4-digit pin while transacting. Zebpay is on a mission to bring Bitcoins to everyone for everyday use,” said Agrawal.
This is how it began
Formally called BuySellBitco.in, the company was started in late 2012 by Mahin Gupta, a gold medalist computer engineer, and a hardcore bitcoin believer along with business savvy and tech enthusiast duo Sandeep Goenka and Saurabh Agrawal.
Reflecting on the expansion strategy of the company and its vision for the future, it was then rebranded to Zeb IT Service Private Limited and its app as Zebpay in 2014.
Startup has the technical expertise to work on blockchain which is the main technological innovation of bitcoin and a rare commodity in this young industry. It has recently launched its unique app that enables bitcoin transactions using the mobile number without any complexities of understanding bitcoin addresses, taking backups or the fear of losing bitcoins.
“We hide bitcoin address and have created a new layer on it. Users can buy/sell bitcoins using mobile number and all identification and transactions are linked to mobile number with a secure 4-digit pin,” said Agrawal.
Recently, startup has secured $1 million in series A funding led by growth equity investor Arjun Handa, CMD and VP, Claris Life sciences, along with other investors including Amit Jindal, MD of Jindal worldwide. The startup plans to utilize these fund to ramp up innovation of its blockchain based services and talent acquisition to proliferate the reach of its simplest bitcoin wallet in India.
“The growth potential Zebpay has demonstrated in the past few months attracted the investors to our business. Since last few months, governments and banks worldwide have expressed enthusiasm for the technology behind bitcoins and the potential benefits it has. This has led to venture funds investing in bitcoin companies,” said Agrawal.
Initially planned to expand business out of Singapore, but looking at positive growth in fintech sector, they pivoted their plans and now are focusing on India.
Business fundamental in which he strongly believes
For Agrawal business ethics are pillars of success and he strongly follow them. “Integrity is the essence of my business. Customer service and support is what we strive for because our happy and satisfied customers are the reflection of our tremendous business success. We always work within our jurisdiction and never do anything illegal or against law of the land,” said Agrawal.
Writing a success story
In November 2014, Zebpay was presented to group of bitcoin angels at Vegas. Among 20 companies present there, Zebpay was selected as the number one company which carried the potential to become unicorn.
“When a 50-year-old person who lives in a town in India, whose name I have not heard, and knows everything about bitcoins and wants to buy them. This amazes me to think about the popularity of bitcoin,” said Agrawal.
Challenges That Gave Him Sleepless Night
The biggest challenge so far was when they launched the app. “Initially we were offering free bitcoins worth 5 dollars to each person for downloading the app. This feature was extremely misused in the Philippines. In just 3 days we got about 7,000 downloads. Then we realized that there was a big loophole in our strategy. We worked continuously for 48 hours to fix the problem and ensured that things were rectified,” said Agrawal.
Despite such panic situation he does not lose his temper. “I try to calm myself, understand the scenario, the damage incurred and judge possibilities of potential damage. Then I discuss it with my team and do not put my hands off it until everything is solved,” said Agrawal.
Future Scale-up Plans
Currently, Zebpay has a total of over 50,000 users, who use the app to buy, sell, store and spend bitcoins. It is seeing enthusiastic growth in its user base with around 3,000 to 4,000 new users added every month. “We aim to add 1 lakh users to our mobile app by the end of the year,” informed Agrawal.
Going month on month at 75 – 100 per cent growth, startup is targeting business of Rs. 500 Cr by end of 2016 with a user base of 100,000 downloads. “Next 2 years is going to be focused on India, and on educating Indians about bitcoins and its benefits. Once we touch our targets we shall look at expanding in other Asian countries,” said Agrawal.