Brand building is an exercise, nothing romantic; B. Bharath, Founder & CEO, Rupayam.com
First, tell us the story of your enterprise.
Rupayam.com is an online interface to compare loans across banks for borrowers. We provide end-to-end services to customers, and simplify the lending process, essentially ensuring the customer does not have to move from his office or home once he has logged on to Rupayam.com. We shed light on customers’ loan eligibility and keep them informed on their loan status.
One of the key reasons of founding Rupayam has been my stint in retail collections, when I saw thousands of genuine customers falling into a debt trap due to excessive leverage. Customers earning less than Rs 20,000 monthly income were choked with credit card debts close to Rs 25 lakh and were having EMIs of Rs 1,50,000. A major reason for this was the lack of financial understanding.
Debt is a double-edged sword. So, at Rupayam we play a key role in advising clients about the risk involved in borrowing, and actively engage with clients in helping them plan their debt and finances. As a loan aggregator, we offer customers value and insights across banks. Our ability to offer a mix of online and offline services is the key to customer delight and we build deep relationships that set us apart from other players.
The original plan was to launch across locations, pan-India, and acquire customers only through the online route. However, we pivoted in February 2013, to be more focussed on Chennai, and we offer end-to-end to solutions to customers.
Currently, the app is live for personal loans, and we see a peak traffic of 5,000 users in a month. In the coming quarters, we would be launching in Bangalore, and Hyderabad, and users can compare home loans, auto loans and credit cards by December 2013. Markets are dynamic and continuously evolving all the time and so will Rupayam. We will not have one product or strategy at any point in time as the final.
Give us an industry view, Bharath.
Credit penetration in India is hardly 2%. Consider this: the number of credit cards in the country is hardly 20 million. A favourable demography of over 500 million people below the age of 25 makes the space even more exciting. We expect a minimum 10% penetration of financial products by 2020. Our goal is to be a one-stop shop for all retail financial needs and offer customised services ranging from online, voice and offline; more importantly, to ensure customers do not end up in a debt trap.
Your two cents for wannabe entrepreneurs.
Being a founder of a startup is an exciting journey, and pretty hands-on. I get to do everything from sales and marketing to design, think on the creative, functionality of the product, planning finances and most importantly revenue-generation. Business needs to be looked at from a three-to-five-year horizon. Brand building is an exercise and nothing romantic; one has to be ready to go through the grind passionately to develop a brand. Great brands are built on executing great ideas with blood, sweat and tears, not just on capital.