Payments, money, and that ka-ching of the cash register. No sound is more pleasing to the ears of an entrepreneur than that of making money. However, one of the main concerns within the startup ecosystem today is that of building revenue models and monetisation. While many wannabe entrepreneurs have great ideas in place, they also need to focus on revenue models and monetisation. This is where BluSynergy comes into the picture.
BluSynergy is a cloud-based billing, notification, and payment collection system. The platform helps organisations, particularly startups, enhance revenue management by providing various types of permutations and combinations for billing. It also aims to reduce the order-to-cash cycle by providing convenient online and offline payment acceptance mechanisms.
Figuring the basics
The idea of BluSynergy came to Sunny Thandassery while he was working in the US. Sunny had held several senior roles architecting key technology platforms in financial and billing systems. He saw that while many startups were working on providing multiple services, and that there was increased investor interest, there was often a lack of a good revenue monetisation strategy.
It became apparent that a majority of these companies would need to have a revenue model to help them make money. These companies would also need to be nimble and flexible to change based on market requirements. He thought of building a billing and payment collection system for the growing economies of Asia – with a special focus on India.
Sunny discussed his idea with long-time friend Mridhul Prakash, who was working in the insurance space. However, as the insurance industry is strictly monitored by the IRDA, the business model envisioned was not workable. The IRDA had laid down guidelines on the maximum revenue a licensed, third party could legitimately make. So he joined Sunny and BluSynergy was born in late 2014.
Working across an agnostic model
“Bill due notification (via email, SMS and even voice calls) for startups was a key feature for startups to be able to behave like big companies. Our clients’ customers now even get a voice notification stating that their invoice is due or has been past due (as the case may be). Our standard offering provides email notification. The SMS and/or Voice notifications are available in the premium product,” adds 43-year old Mridhul.
BluSynergy is payment agnostic. The end-consumer can pay for their services using not only the credit, debit and netbanking but also via DD, cash, and cheque at bank branches across the country and get a payment receipt from the vendor and merchant instantly.
This is accomplished by integrating with the core banking system of the banks and utilising a ‘maker-checker’ model at the branch. “Offering customers the ability to pay from over 60 banks gives a lot of flexibility to end users as well as businesses,” adds Mridhul.
Hosted on the Amazon cloud and developed using Grails, Mridhul says they have a highly sophisticated product, which is also integrated and available on the Salesforce app exchange and Quickbooks apps.com platform. “We are the only billing app on Quickbooks that accepts payments utilising Indian payment gateways,” says Mridhul.
However, in any technology ecosystem, the challenge is to find the right partners and to make sure that a holistic solution is available to clients, which includes depth and breadth of functionality. In those terms, it was a challenge for BluSynergy to be able to select the right partners, while at the same time not limiting choices for clients.
BluSynergy partnered initially with market leaders in the payment gateway space and then went on to establish integrations with all the major payment gateway companies in India.
In October 2015, the billing volume at BluSynergy touched the monthly figure of Rs.10 crore generating tens of thousands of invoices. BluSynergy reached a Gross Sales Value (GSV) of Rs. 20 crores by the end of 2014. They also claimed a booked GSV of Rs. 60 crores as of December 2015.
Different synergies that will help growth
While there was some initial struggle, there have been several factors that are helping drive growth, especially with awareness of their product growing. Mridhul lists different initiatives that will create awareness and enhance growth.
- Government initiatives: Transactions in India are becoming tighter with the different requirements of proof of transaction. Mridhul believes that the need for cash will fade as all money becomes electronic. To this end, the government is proposing to reduce TDR for various types of credit/debit card transactions.
- E-commerce: Awareness about online transactions has increased, encouraged by e-commerce majors over the past few months. Seeing front pages of newspapers with information about online purchases is driving awareness about this medium.
- Convenience: Overall, the convenience of paying with a few mouse clicks, for a specific transaction (a specific amount), helps BluSynergy’s case.
BluSynergy recently raised a seed round of investment of $200,000 from Privo TechCorp Pvt. Ltd and angel investors. Mridhul adds that this investment has allowed the company to develop their technology solutions and take it across different vertical industries in the market.
The team at BluSynergy plans to expand in other cities; work on enhancing their product suite and provide a great product that adds significant value to the customers and a rewarding experience for their team members.
The payment space
According to reports by several leading daily newspapers and market research reports, most of the cashless payments come from retail electronic cleaning. It, in fact, contributed to close to 71 per cent of overall cashless transactions in 2015. In comparison, prepaid instruments contributed Rs. 21,342 crore, according to Dazeinfo. This is not even 1 per cent of the total cashless payments.
The report said that cashless transactions via mobile banking came to approximately Rs. 1 lakh crore. While not large, it is nevertheless one of the fastest-growing payment options. Currently only one million consumers transact using mobile wallets; however, it is believed that these numbers will touch 100 million in the next five years.