Learning the Tricks of Trade from India's Fintech Entrepreneur
In conversation with Shashank Kumar, CTO and Co-Founder, Razorpay, about the brand, entrepreneurship, leadership and the journey of his fintech solution start-up
The Indian government took a bold step on November 8, 2016. This move to demonetize 500 and 1000 rupee banknotes changed the face of the Indian economy. From being an economy that was heavily dependent on cash and plastic money for transactions, India started adopting digital payments technology. It was not an overnight move, it took a while, some time but today India has consumed and absorbed online payments industry like no other country has been able to.
Digital payments start-ups and businesses were in existence even before the demonetization wave hit and swept the nation but their role and adoption saw a meteoric rise after people were faced with the uncertainty that got attached to cash transactions and Indians got awakened to the fact that there is a need to self-educate on alternate modes of transaction. So the question of demonetization being of any benefit to the Indian economy remains debatable, a case subject to varied interpretations, but it unarguably and most definitely, pushed India towards a more digital approach! This article, nevertheless is not about demonetization.
Entrepreneur India brings for our readers the story of one of India's fintech entrepreneur and his venture Razorpay, a Converged Payments Solution company that provides tech payment solutions to over 2 lakh online businesses. In conversation with Shashank Kumar, CTO, and Co-Founder, Razorpay about the brand, entrepreneurship, leadership and what it took in him to bring fintech to Indian millennials.
Co-founders, Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar
Since the beginning, co-founders and IITians, Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar were very clear that they wanted to build something that will benefit the masses. So they started to build a crowdfunding portal in 2013 and in the process realized the poor state of the online payments industry, especially for startups and SMEs. Moreover, when they contacted a few payment gateway companies, they were asked for the past operational records, the presence of physical offices, security deposits and very high set-up fees. "The online reviews were poor, technical integration was clumsy and the success rates, especially on mobile were unsatisfactory due to an inefficient payment flow." Having faced such troublesome experiences could prove to be deterrent for anybody. However, Mathur and Kumar decided to shift their focus on building a PG to solve the online payment problem and provide a simple, affordable and secure way for startups, SMEs and organizations like schools, colleges and training centers to accept online payments.
And thus Razorpay was founded in May 2014.
Path Strife with Obstacles
Kumar admits that founding Razorpay and aligning the company with their vision wasn't a cake walk! "Having pitched the solution to several schools in Jaipur, none of them except one school agreed to buy the product, as they were not aware and had not witnessed the benefit of digital payments." After having put immense effort, such a turnout was definitely discouraging and they started wondering if they should even continue with the start-up or shut it. But the story of this fintech trailblazer is that of hard work, perseverance and persistence.
And soon enough, the blocks on the road that were stopping the light from coming in started vanishing. "Soon, however, few startups from Startup Oasis, a Jaipur based incubation center, started using our payment gateway solution for their companies, in spite of us not proactively selling to them."
Razorpay is the second Indian company to be a part of Silicon Valley's largest tech accelerator, Y Combinator. Marquee investors such as Tiger Global, Matrix Partners, YCombinator and MasterCard have invested a total of $31.5 million through Series A & Series B funding. It has reached a successful benchmark and more is to follow.
Today, they are in a happy space, "Since then, till date, we've been striving to always make online payments simplified for businesses, constantly developing new products beyond PG, redefining benchmarks in product innovation, quality and customer support standards for the industry to follow." Entrepreneurs cannot afford to be content because when contentment gets replaced with complacency, one can't really fathom!
Be a Storyteller
Kumar gives some sound advice when I ask him what it takes to convince an investor. "Do your homework, be a great storyteller. Make sure you have your research in place about the investors before you approach them. It often helps to learn about their personal and professional interests."
Now that Kumar is a successful entrepreneur, he must be having great stories to tell!
Qualities that Must Stay on!
An entrepreneur and leader, Shashank Kumar has come a long way but there are some qualities that he has made sure that they stay and not get lost with the ravages of time. They are- strategizing, communication and listening unequivocally to both employees as well as customer, walking around and interacting with employees and perseverance
The future of fintech is definitely interesting and for all the millennials to see but for now Razorpay and its founders are sorted!