Amit Chelawat, FactCertifier: Verification of identity, credibility & experience

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Amit, please tell us what FactCertifier is all about.At FactCertifier, our goal is to empower our clients to make informed decisions by doing identity, credibility and experience verification in an effective manner.

How is FactCertifier different from other credential verification firms? What are your flagship solutions?

We have developed the first party pan-India network which is powered by our automated solutions and unlike other background check companies; we offer a wide range of services tominimize fraud losses for our corporate clients. Currently, for retail sector, there’s no one offering such a service to cover potential marriage partners, domestic help etc. We have a built-in dupe engine to match fresh candidates with existing database with a range of both negative and positive checks.

How did the business idea for FactCertifier come about? How much capital was required to implement the business idea?

We were working in the Anti-Fraud function in the banking industry and during a general discussion, we realized that even though individuals/SMEs face similar risks, they are not able to mitigate their risks, due to lack of resources. And that was how the business idea was born. We brainstormed about the name and discussed a list of 10 possibilities. But we finalizedFactCertifier as we are essentially confirming facts for our clients.

We started off with INR 2 million of which we utilized 1.4 million towards company setup, software, certification etc.  We started working on the idea of FactCertifier 3 years ago. But we got stuck with software as we ended up hiring a wrong vendor. In December 2009, we restarted work on the website and software by roping in a technical partner who developed the website and software and in return, took a 20% stake in our company.

Tell us about your background.

I did my MBA from Indore in 1997 and joined Bank of Madura, where I worked for 3 years. I then worked at IDBI Bank Ltd & CitiBank for 2 years. For growth opportunities, I quit my job in 2005 and started my own business of PMS consultancy, along with which I worked for real estate projects & helped set up operations for FactCertifier.

Where do you see credential verification firms and FactCertifier five years from now?

I feel that this industry will consolidate within the next 2 years and then, large players will dominate the sector. Eventually, success would depend on verification network and quality of thereports. In 5 years time, we hope to be the leader in the retail sector and among the top 3 in the corporate sector; we also intend to have our own verification & sales network in the top 20 cities of India.

Are you looking to raise funds?

We got our initial funding from a set of 5 promoters and now, we are working with 2 potential partners for getting more funding. One of these is a company already in the verification business and the second one is a venture capital firm. Discussions are in the preliminary stage as of now and we expect this to get finalized within next 2-3 months.

What are the challenges that you faced while developing your solutions? How did you overcome those challenges?

The first challenge we encountered one was to develop our software on a shoe-string budget. So, we offered a stake in the company in return of software development and that has ensured good quality of the software without any real cash flow from our company. Another challenge was that the verification vendors were not taking us seriously as we were not able to generate substantial volumes. We had to talk to large vendors and had to share some details about our business plans with them, as a result of which they are now responding better.

How big is the team behind FactCertifier? Are you looking at hiring?

We have a team of 5 founding partners, of which 2 have over 14 years work experience in Anti-Fraud Risk function in the BFSI sector in India and abroad. Two others have over 20 years work experience in software development and have worked in India and abroad. I have over 13 years work experience having worked in banking sector for Bank of Madura, ICICI Bank andCitibank.

We are looking to hire a promoter. We would prefer someone with experience in the Anti Fraud industry and we would be hiring them as a full time employee and another staff to provide back office assistance to him.

How has the journey been so far? Let us know about your expansion plans.

The journey so far has been very interesting. We have tied up with a background check company in Tanzania where we verifying education certificates of their employees. We also identified a gap in the existing background checks industry, which is that most of the business we have got is through existing background checks vendors. That essentially points to the fact that they do not have a good enough network through which they can deliver to their clients. This business requires strong network of verification agencies and if vendors can be managed properly, then there’s huge unsatisfied demand in this industry.

So far we have done around 100 verifications including education certificate checks and reference checks. Of these, 2 were for the retail sector and one for a corporate client on sample basis. All other checks were done for existing background checks agencies in India and Tanzania. We have been registered with NAPBS, which is a global body of professional background screeners based in USA.

We at YourStory.in wish Amit and the entire team FactCertifier all the best. To know more about this venture in the credential verification business, check out www.factcertifier.com. Also, let us know your views on this story by writing to us at feedback@yourstory.in.

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