[The Turning Point] How slice founder Rajan Bajaj got inspired by Airbnb to plunge into entrepreneurship

The Turning Point is a series of short articles that focusses on the moment when an entrepreneur hit upon their winning idea. Today, we look at the journey of fintech startup slice that offers a digital credit solution targetting young consumers.

[The Turning Point] How slice founder Rajan Bajaj got inspired by Airbnb to plunge into entrepreneurship

Saturday November 20, 2021,

4 min Read

Bengaluru-based fintech startup Slice(formerly SlicePay) was started six years ago by Rajan Bajaj. Rajan started his entrepreneurial journey in his early 20s with Mesh Internet in 2015. He later founded slice in 2016 to ease the financial anxiety that new-age customers go through when it comes to payments and credit. Slice is essentially a prepaid card, which comes with a credit line. 

Speaking to YourStory, Rajan says, Bengaluru-based slice is going after the millennials and Gen Z, and the company’s vision is to focus on providing a best-in-class experience to its users. Currently, the startup has more than 4 million users, and it aims to grow 10x in the next few years.

The turning point

Speaking about the turning point in his career, Rajan says, while he was at IIT Kharagpur, he developed a passion for startups. He recalls that he looked up to Airbnb so much that he thought of dropping out in the second year of engineering and starting a company in the shared economy space in India.

However, after completing his graduation, Rajan landed a job at Flipkart, where he was part of the product team and worked on payments. After about 10-11 months into it, he had an urge to work on his shared economy idea. 

“I felt that if I don’t start up now, then probably I don't have it in me and I should never do that,” says Rajan. He quit Flipkart and ventured into his first startup Mesh Internet in 2015. 

“It was a furniture startup for two-three months, then it ventured into car-bike rental for two-three months, and then peer-to-peer gaming console, bicycle, and camera sharing,” says Rajan. 

He says that with his 20-member team, he worked on a lot of ideas based on the shared economy, but “we realised that we are a bit early in sharing economy and it was not the best time,” says Rajan. 

Soon, he shut down the company and started Slicepay, now slice, as a ‘buy now pay later’ (BNPL) platform, but the initial three years were a struggle. 

“I was not new to payments as I was in payments at Flipkart, and I loved using credit cards. I have had many experiences with credit and payments already and I was fascinated by this space. We saw this shift happening globally where ‘buy now pay later’ was becoming very large and relevant,” says Rajan.

But three years into it, Rajan says, he was not trusted by the banks and creditors, and understanding regulation, understanding the business and operations became challenging. 

He says, the real turning point in his career came in May 2019 when slice launched a physical card after many years of struggle.

“We had to go through our own series of learning,” says Rajan. The company finally pivoted from BNPL platform to the current model and launched a physical card in May 2019. And then, there has been no looking back. 

The startup has now grown to 600 people and is backed by leading VCs such as Gunosy Capital, Das Capital, Finup, Simile Venture Partner, EMVC, Blume Ventures India, Tracxn Labs, Better Capital, Sachin Bansal's Navi, alongside angel investors such as Kunal Shah.

“We saw product-market fit very early on. Almost 75-80 percent of our customers were just coming through word of mouth. We have been focussed on working and improving the product experience and that's when we started seeing a huge trajectory in terms of growth,” says Rajan. 

Since its pivot in May 2019, slice claims to have over four million registered users with an average age of 27. 

“We are just trying to do the right things for the customer in the simplest possible manner in the fastest possible way and trying to give back their time. We are removing that complexity and making their life simpler and better,” says Rajan.

Edited by Megha Reddy