[Tech30] With 2 lakh customers, this startup aims to be the first marketplace bank for small businesses
Getting access to the right kind and amount of funds is always a stress-filled task, be it for personal or business purposes. It was to address this gap that Rajat Kumar, Vipul Sharma, Sachin Arora, and Mohit Goel started Chqbook.com in 2017.
“There are over 60 million small-business owners in India who find is difficult to access financial services and meet their financial needs. The current BFSI system is highly dependent on the income tax return (ITR) and traditional underwriting. Along with this, there is a lack of understanding and options for getting their needs met in the present system,” points out Mohit Goel, Co-founder, Chqbook.
Specifically targetting small business owners, Chqbook serves as a financial control centre for them. The Gurugram-based fintech startup enables small business owners to search, compare, and get personal finance products such as loans and credit cards.
A one-stop solution
Chqbook.com has tied up with credit bureaus, partners, and financial institutions to provide an online aggregator platform for financial services to over 12,000 business owners every month. It also offers the services of loan counsellors and connects them with customers looking for financial products.
When a user visits the site to register, the startup’s proprietary AI platform, Tara, assesses the eligibility of the potential customer with a set of questions. Based on the inputs received, the software determines the user’s eligibility for a particular financial product across the banks registered on the platform.
Tara also recommends loans based on approval rates in the past for a certain demographic and income profile. The AI also keeps track of customer communication and updates the customer on the status of their loan approval.
The journey so far
The startup primarily caters to small business owners including SMEs, HoReCas (hotels, restaurants, and catering), and kiranas. Offering its solutions through B2B and B2C channels, Chqbook today processes over 40,000 customer applications per month. Its app offers over 60 products with zero-fee and negotiated rates. The startup has created custom product programmes that are de-linked from traditional underwriting principles and offers end-to-end onboarding for customers.
“We have served nearly 200,000 customers across 20 cities through exclusive partnerships and directly,” Mohit adds.
The beginnings and the team
Vipul and Rajat met while working at IndusInd Bank and decided to form the startup together. Chqbook was registered in June 2016, and they started operations with Rajat as the COO and Vipul as the CEO in January 2017.
Rajat has over 18 years of experience in sales and distribution from stints at IndusInd Bank and Standard Chartered Bank. Vipul’s 17-plus years of experience extends over product, portfolio, and sales management functions, across the BFSI sector, with stints at IndusInd Bank, HDFC Bank, Citibank, and ICICI Prudential Life.
Sachin Arora, Chqbook’s CTO, came on board in 2018 and has 19 years of experience in technology and customer experience across consumer tech giants like Amazon, Myntra, and Trilogy.
With 21 years of experience in leadership roles in sales and marketing across telcom and BFSI companies, Mohit joined the leadership in October 2019. With stints at Hutch (Vodafone), ICICI Prudential MF, Tata AIG General, and Exide Life (ING Vysya), he is currently the CMO at the fintech startup.
Chqbook today has a 30-member full-time team and 150 Chqbook Experts who are strategically located across 20 Indian cities. Chqbook Experts engage with small business owners and help them in accessing financial services like short term credit, business loans, credit cards and rewards. They ensure that every step in the approval process is made more efficient and, hence, time-saving.
The market and the numbers
According to IBEF, in FY07-18, total lending in India increased at a CAGR of 10.94 percent and total deposits increased at a CAGR of 11.66 percent.
Chqbook competes with the likes of Deal4Loans, Paisabazaar, Easypolicy, etc.
Talking about Chqbook's USP, Rajat says, “Our focus is not only lead generation but ensuring a customer’s loan or credit card requirement is fulfilled. Our Chqbook Experts fulfill these applications while Chqbook’s Tara AI engine tracks the whole process until the customer gets the product they applied for.”
Earlier this year, veteran cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle had invested an undisclosed amount in the startup. Earlier, the startup had raised funds from Startup Buddy and individual investors from Singapore and India.
Chqbook’s revenue model is two-fold: it generates revenue directly from customers via lending and are partners with banks/NBFCs from where it gets revenue through rewards.
“Chqbook is today unit economics-positive and our QoQ revenue has scaled 30x over the last year Q2. Our year-on-year revenue has seen a growth of 8x in FY20 compared to FY19,” says Mohit.
Talking about the startup’s future plans, the CMO adds,
“We are excited to build India’s first marketplace bank for small business owners. We want to be the financial control centre for our customers.”
(Edited by Athirupa Geetha Manichandar)
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