Payment collection app SpiderG is digitally empowering 15k microbusinesses
India is home to about 50 million microbusinesses. These include cable operators, fitness centres, paying guest facilities, appliance rental businesses, school bus operators, and milkmen, among others, and are recurring revenue businesses.
However, microbusiness still face one challenge: collection of payments from customers.
Advancements of technology and digital payment services may have made collection of payments easier, but tracking is difficult. Not all customers use the same online payment services, and tracking finances and cash-flow management is a huge concern for microbusinesses.
Realising this problem, Ashwani Rathore and Harshal Ingle co-founded SpiderG in 2015. The Pune-based startup is an on-time, one-click payment collection and disbursement app to pay salaries, utility bulls, and expenses for micro-businesses.
With SpiderG, micro-entrepreneurs can send automated recurring e-bills to customers with a payment link, follow up for a payment by sending reminders, and keep track of each of these payments. SpiderG eases and structures the book-keeping process by enabling entrepreneurs to carry out all transactions through one platform.
The startup has been awarded the Singapore Fintech Gladiators Top Startup award, and also received the Maharashtra Innovation Award in 2018. It is a part of the JioGenNext Startup Accelerator and the Microsoft Emerge X Programmes.
The SpiderG team
Co-founder and CEO Ashwani is an engineer from NIT Allahabad and has done his MBA in finance from Asian Institute of Management in Manila. Initially working with Cognizant, Ashwani started his entrepreneurial journey in 2007, when he started food ecommerce venture Mom’s Kitchen. Post this, Ashwani worked for VC firm IndiaCo Ventures, where he was responsible for deal evaluation for investments.
With a career expanding over a decade, Ashwani has also worked with Goldman Sachs and ISB-Hyderabad’s 10k Women Entrepreneurship Programme, before starting SpiderG.
Co-founder and CTO Harshal is an electronics engineer from VIT-Pune University. Prior to SpiderG, he was the Co-founder of Abstracte Technologies, a semi-conductor startup focused on research and commercialisation of advanced VLSI Design Techniques. With a career expanding nine years, Harshal has been involved in identifying and providing technologies for SMBs.
Ashwani was introduced to Harshal when he came to IndiaCo to raise money for a tech that he developed during college.
“Harshal had developed a technology in the semiconductor design space. I would take his help in my consulting projects on the tech side. We instantly clicked and started SpiderG together,” Ashwani says.
The story so far
SpiderG’s parent company, Gladiris Technologies, was started in December 2013. It was into selling open-source ERP software to SMEs.
“We soon realised that ERP software was not enough for SMEs. ERPs do bring in efficiency, but when someone is starting out, it is essential to solve working capital issues and deal with vendors and customers. Thousands of SMEs cannot afford ERP systems and that was the genesis of SpiderG,” Ashwani explains.
The idea was conceptualised and developed by the duo after months of research of past solutions, existing practices, future technologies, and talking to a number of business enterprises.
Ashwani says, “We believed book-keeping can be automated by combining banking with transactions.”
SpiderG wants invoicing to be effortless and quick for small businesses, and aims to facilitate a smoother process and establish a network of businesses connected through the e-invoicing platform.
The ‘Spider’ in its name is derived from ‘net’ of network that the startup wants to establish; the G stands for Gladiris.
How does it work?
“Microbusinesses are usually perceived as laggards when it comes to tech adoption so how would we make them adopt SpiderG,” Ashwani says.
Businesses need to download the SpiderG app, available for both Android and iOS users, and sign in using their mobile number. On entering details, they will then be able to automatically send monthly bill payment reminders through SMS, email, or WhatsApp, along with payment links.
Customers can click on the link to view the bill.
Customers can either choose to pay by cash or make an online payment. If a customer selects cash payment, the business’ agent will be notified to physically go and collect the bill, after which the agent can mark the bill paid in the app. After this, or after making an online payment, an e-receipt is auto sent, and the agent receives payment updates.
SpiderG uses AI-driven smart reminders to ensure on-time payments. “Businesses can also pay salaries, vendor bills, and reimbursements through the app,” Ashwani says.
Customers can also view the business’ website and choose to make payment. S/he can enter details, register, and make the payment online. SpiderG helps customers build their website and establish an online presence.
“The app is free to download. We only charge one percent of each transaction for online payments through our invoice link. If the customer selects to pay through cash, we do not charge from the merchants,” he adds. The platform charges no subscription fee.
SpiderG’s customers include business that generate revenue by billing the same value to their customer every month, and have a large customer base. It acquired its initial set of customers through direct sales.
“Our executives went to meet these clients in person, gave them a demo, and on-boarded them,” Ashwani says.
Its initial customers were PG hostel Renter Saathi, Akshaya School Bus Services, Aditya Cable Network, Swapnil Internet Service, and Blue Moon Gym.
“Renter Saathi and Akshaya School Bus Service have reached a conversion level of 95 percent digital payments through SpiderG,” Ashwani says. He adds that after adopting SpiderG, up to 80 percent of its customers’ collections are converted into digital.
The founders say SpiderG has more than 15,000 merchants on its platform and provides up to 733, 000 invoices every month.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many small businesses to halt operations. At the same time, small operators are facing difficulties in payment collection from customers. SpiderG has witnessed a massive surge in digital payments in segments including newspaper vendors, milk vendors, cable operators, and internet service providers.
“We have established a presence in 12 cities, including Mumbai, Pune, Guwahati, Delhi, Kolkata, and Indore,” Ashwani says.
In the last 18 months, SpiderG has maintained a 30 to 40 percent month-on-month growth, and generated Rs 4 lakh revenue every month.
By the end of this year, the startup aims to have five lakh businesses on its platform, generating 50 million invoices.
The payment collection startup has raised Rs 5.6 crore so far, from Rahul Kirloskar, Chairman, Kirloskar Pneumatic; Fusion Tech Ventures; Harshal Morde, Director of Morde Foods; and various family offices.
According to NITI Aayog, the digital payments market in India is set to grow to $1 trillion by 2023.
SpiderG competes with all payment applications. But fintech giants like Google Pay, PhonePe, and Paytm are mostly designed for end customers.
Meanwhile, startups like KhataBook and OkCredit enable only credit logging while bigger players like Zoho and Intuit Quickbooks are not meant from micro-businesses.
But SpiderG enables businesses to maintain a ledger for every customer, and allow auto reconciliation of payments.
“Our USP is that SpiderG is exclusively designed for microbusiness collection and cash-flow management problems. The AI-based reminders, choice of multiple payment options, and integration with existing current accounts make it unique. Microbusinesses don’t need to use any book-keeping software, banking app, payment app, or wallet to manage their businesses,” Ashwani says.
SpiderG is currently in talks to raise about $14 million in its Series A round.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)