While Anurag Jain was working for his family run real estate company, he often felt his business crippled because of delayed payments from large companies, hence stressing its working capital. Burning a hole in the business’s cash flow, Jain along with his IIT Kanpur batchmate Manish Kumar, launched KredX - India’s first marketplace for invoice discounting connecting SMEs and investors to unlock the value of blue chip invoices.
The duo got so obsessed with the idea that Jain left his family business in Kolkata and relocated to Bengaluru and Kumar, former HSBC executive, ditched his corporate cushion to start from the scratch. “I was settled in Kolkata with my family for 10 years before feeling uprooted from that place. But I understand what it takes to build a business. So I knew that it will be a temporary thing,” says Jain.
KredX wherein Kred signifies credibility and credit availability and X represents the marketplace connecting two parties was launched in early 2015. Kumar too shared the same feeling except the fact the he was already based in Bengaluru. But even during all this enthusiasm of starting up, Kumar had an extra baggage of bad health to carry. The slipped disc problem for Kumar from last six years restricted his travel, which Jain mostly takes care of.
“During the initial three months of starting up, I wasn’t quite able to walk and sit. We were in the process of raising our seed round, so I had to be in all the meetings with investors, customers, etc., while bearing the back pain, often acute. So, I used to stand up after a while,” recalls Kumar. The duo operated from their respective homes in the beginning but switched to a vacant flat that Jain owned in the city as their start-up office. They even pulled out some furniture from their homes and later bought few tables, bean bags and chairs from their own pocket.
For IITians it’s Tough to Swallow Failure
Currently, KredX has no hierarchy structure. As a company culture, Kumar and Jain want everybody treated as an individual contributor and with no reporting mechanism. Everybody just have to update their work in the weekly team meeting. In fact there are employee stock ownership plans (ESOP) given to all the members to instill a sense of ownership in the company, including its office boy. “Even our office boy has ESOP, though I had to explain him what it is for half-an-hour,” smiles Jain.
Though KredX has a tier one investor like Sequoia on board but funding wasn’t on the radar for Kumar and Jain. “We never intended to raise funds neither we created any pitch decks for investors. Few venture funds showed interest in us but we are lucky to have Sequoia wanting to invest in us,” adds Jain. Despite early success, Kumar and Jain have stood their ground instead of being swayed away or being aggressive in any manner, particularly when you are doing a start-up.
“Start-up teaches you to accept failures and move ahead with learnings. So you cannot be aggressive but I believe that when you graduate from prestigious institutes, like IITs, is that you get used to success and it becomes very tough to swallow the failure,” asserts Kumar. Nonetheless, KredX has a clear goal in sight. “We want to be a billion dollar company for which persistence is required because there is already lot of negativity in the ecosystem because of high start-up failure rate,” claims Jain who has a very unique way of unwinding himself from work – real estate.
Jain love learning about new properties, investments, talking to industry people, doing industry research, and honestly sounding little weird, hanging out with brokers on weekends. KredX is amongst the
very few start-ups in India that raised funding amidst the severe funding drought.
(This article was first published in the February issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)