[The Turning Point] How an epiphany led this fisherman’s son to start up in the fintech space
Chennai-based fintech startup IppoPay, a B2B payment aggregator that enables small businesses, SMEs, freelancers, and homepreneurs across Tier II, Tier III, and rural areas to collect payments from their customers, was started during the pandemic. The startup claims to have garnered Rs 800 crore transaction within less than a year of its launch.
But for its Co-founder and CEO Mohan K, this is not a result of just one year, but of a decade of hustle.
Hailing from a family of fishermen in Thamaraikulam, a small village in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, he did his schooling from the government secondary school in Tamil medium. In 2006, he moved to Chennai and joined a small company as a programmer. But he always wanted to start his own company.
In 2010, Mohan started a web development company that would integrate payment solutions for merchants.
“As time went by, I was getting more involved in fintech, and I became the ‘local fintech guy’,” says Mohan.
In 2018, Mohan got a chance to attend a fintech event in the UAE, where he planned to get more clients and funding. Here, he met Dubai-based entrepreneur Omar Bin Berk, who invited him to become the Co-founder and CTO of a company called Foloosi and build the tech to solve last-mile fintech problems in the UAE.
Mohan started working with Foloosi in April 2018, and even invested a few lakhs in the company. The team developed a payment gateway and Foloosi was officially launched in February 2019. The venture also garnered angel funding of half a million dollars to expand the business in the UAE. But Mohan was still feeling unsettled. He says, he had an epiphany: why wasn’t he bridging this gap in India?
The reaping time
Mohan soon decided to create a similar fintech solution focused on small businesses for Bharat in local languages, starting from his home state, Tamil Nadu.
Mohan quit Foloosi and launched IppoPay in June 2020 to cater to small businesses in Tamil Nadu. He roped in his childhood friend JaiKumar as the Co-founder and CTO and set up a team of 15 members and focused on small merchants and SMEs.
IppoPay’s clients include milk vendors, newspaper boys, chit fund companies, and others in Tier II and III cities in Tamil Nadu. “These people were managing their payments only through paper. We decided to create a mobile app and offer a subscription plan in their language,” Mohan says.
IppoPay enables all offline businesses to collect their payments online and help them to accept payments across any UPI apps that includes GPay, PhonePe, Paytm, Amazon Pay, BHIM, and others.
“By this, merchants can record all their payment transactions across in-built ledger, Khatabook, ePOS, invoices and other financial institutions. We also have an in-built GST based invoice software, which helps merchants to manage invoice payments in a more efficient manner,” says Mohan.
The company came up with a beta version in November 2020 and started penetrating deeper in Tamil Nadu. From transactions worth Rs 2 crore in October 2020, it reached the Rs 800 crore mark in March 2021, claims the company.
The pandemic, Mohan says, is only adding to growth rather than impacting it negatively. He says, IppoPay directly targets merchants and vendors, exposing them to digital payments with its simple, user-friendly interface. Ippo in Tamil means NOW. So IppoPay means Pay Now.
Mohan says the growth is driven by the fact that IppoPay concentrates more on offering its services for first-time technology users. In future, Mohan wants IppoPay to be the market leader in Tamil Nadu and then expand the business to pan-India.