M & A

From starting up to getting acquired in 10 months, the Clinknow story

Abhishek Nayak already has one success to his name when his earlier venture  Sequoia-funded Gharpay was acquired by Delhivery. In July 2013, moving on from Gharpay, he started focusing on a very different product called ClinkNow. It offers an analytical tool which works on the data of online payments to help the clients (banks) understand the consumer behavior and their spending.

The Bangalore-based firm Ezetap is a mobile point of sale provider with an indigenous hardware which enables shops without internet to use cards and process payments using a mobile phone and network. It has found a good match in Clinknow and has acquired the company (and the team). Together they have a payments solution (Ezetap) and the capability to analyze the transaction data (Clinknow). This also means that prospective clients will have the resources to take much smarter decisions.

Abhishek-Nayak, Founder – Clinknow

At the time of the acquisition, Clinknow had one client, Ratnakar Limited Bank, which was using the company’s product to analyse the data of 1.5 lakh debit and credit cards. Abhishek, Founder of Clinknow says, “A pilot is running with HDFC Bank for the past 6 months while many other banks are in the pipelines. We are in a tough market of selling to banks. But at the same time there is not much money in the transaction market; value added services (VAS) along with other services is the way ahead.

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Clinknow is working on a product in VAS sector(along with Ezetap) and the basic version of the same will be launched in a couple of months.

From Gharpay to Clinknow

Clinknow was started in July 2013 after Gharpay was acquired by Delhivery. Abhishek says,

It was challenging for us because Gharpay was a very different offering as compared to Clinknow and the team didn’t have any prior experience in this field. Gharpay was a COD (cash-on-delivery) solution for e-commerce companies while Clinknow was designed for online transactions.

Clinknow started at a point when nobody in India was focusing on building products to analyze the transaction data. Abhishek adds, “We see the future of payments industry in offering VAS to merchants and we are moving in that direction. It is impressive to see the way the team has worked on the product and made the transition smoothly.”

Learnings from Clinknow experience

The last 10 months have been a great learning experience for Abhishek and his team. He even met Australian Bank and few other banks across the globe in the process. Though the team expects to continue along the same learning curve after the acquisition, some of the major insights from their journey can be summarized as following:

  1. It is tough to sell to the banks but with patience the hard nut becomes easier to crack.
  2. There is lot of money to be made in working with banks but it takes time.
  3. Building a consumer facing (and engaging) product for clients (banks) was very difficult with the team doing it for the first time. But having done that, it was an impressive show and the team did exceedingly well.

The choice of going with Ezetap

The alignment of Clinknow with a payments company is a natural one but some of the key features of Ezetap favoring this acquisition are as follows:

  1. The company has an aggressive roadmap.
  2. Ezetap has an experienced team and have built a great product.
  3. Sanjay and Abhijit understood our team very quickly and saw the fit with Ezetap team.
  4. They have a big vision which is not restricted to payments but extends to added services around it and even expansion to off-shores.
Sanjay Swamy
Sanjay Swamy

Why did Ezetap acquire Clinknow?

Commenting on the deal, Sanjay Swamy, Co-founder Ezetap and AngelPrime, says, “What we’re doing at Ezetap is providing targeted offers to our users. We were looking to further evolve in our intelligence and understanding about the consumer behavior so that we could integrate customized and better suited offers.

According to him,

Clinknow understands the problem and their product has been duly validated in the market as well. We have known each other for long and were thinking of working together initially. But I feel this (acquisition) is more convenient.

Abhishek reveals to YourStory that Ezetap has acquired Clinknow primarily because of the team. On a lighter note, he says, “Our oldest engineer is younger than the youngest engineer at Ezetap. But that hasn’t interfered with allotting roles to the team members and everyone from Clinknow has got a fair role/position in the new company.”

What happens to the Clinknow team?

Abhishek says, “We are an 11-member strong team and all of us have been offered good positions in Ezetap. I’ll be joining the Ezetap team as Director (Products) while Roshan will be taking care of two regions as sales manager and Arpit will be a Principal Engineer in the company. Everyone has stock options in the company and will continue to work towards producing awesome products.”

Abhishek is satisfied with the way things have progressed for Clinknow and at this crucial juncture, he adds,

The best part about this deal is that now I don’t have to look for hiring and funding while I still get to work on products and engineering at Clinknow. It’s like a dream job for me.

 What do you think about the future of payments ecosystem in India?

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About the author

Alok Soni prefers to keep his bio short owing to a dearth of creativity. Feel free to reach out to him at alok[at]yourstory[dot]com or follow on twitter @aloksoni

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