Slow, steady, silent: How Perfios is building a profitable B2B SaaS business
Perfios, which turned profitable in FY23 and is looking to go public in two years, has emerged as a prime player in powering India's financial sector.
Hailing from Jamshedpur, an industrial town in Jharkhand, Sabyasachi Goswami knows the importance of building with perseverance and not rushing to cash in on immediate gains. Set up in 2008, plans to go public within the next two years., a business-to-business (B2B) software company, turned profitable in FY23 and
For context, there are only a handful of startups that have managed to scale and be profitable.
“...there's nothing called overnight success. That doesn't happen. So there's a lot of sweat, a lot of hard work for many, many people to get a company to where it is today,” said Goswami, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Perfios, at the Delhi edition of TechSparks 2023. He was one of the early members of the startup’s team (joined in 2016) who rose to the CEO’s position in August 2022.
Perfios powers products and services offered by banks and other financial institutions. Goswami described the software-as-a-service (SaaS) company with an interesting analogy.
Given that firms operating in the B2B space typically do not have a wild recall among the larger public, Goswami asks colleagues about their favourite song, its singer, and whom is it featured on, to which they give correct answers.
“Then comes the next question, “Who is the lyricist of this song?” And there comes a long silence or if there’s an answer, it’s incorrect most of the time. And that’s what Perfios is. We are the silent lyricists that create a lot of stories, which touch our lives in different ways,” alluding to financial transactions that a lot of us do, including opening a savings account, taking a loan, or using Google Pay or a similar product in our daily lives.
The company took its own time to raise its first round of funding—nine years after it was formed. Talking about a thing the company has done “right”, Goswami said that one should not rush to raise funding as that creates “unnecessary pressure” that “may hamper your creativity”. It is important for the product to succeed in the market, which includes experiencing a few cycles. The other lessons he offers are having measured goals, not splurging, and keeping costs under control—especially during the harsh funding winter.
Emphasising the need to focus primarily on creating and improving innovative and disruptive tech products, Goswami said raising capital is a by-product of this process. “Capital will knock on your door if your product is successful in the market,” he said.
The company is currently operating in 18 countries in regions, including Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and is looking to enter the United States.
Commenting on the broad nature of the products and solutions developed by Perfios, Goswami stated that the company can't just be boxed into the fintech space and that the apt way to describe the company would be to call it industry- and market-agnostic.
For example, onboarding solutions can be applied to any industry where a vendor, customers, or partners are enlisted, or underwriting solutions are essentially decision-making solutions, which can be applied to, say, ecommerce or FMCG industries as well.
In terms of being market-agnostic, Perfios has followed the “made in India for the world philosophy from day one”. “Whichever product we create, we first see whether it's applicable to other markets and is repeatable in nature,” he said.
Given the B2B SaaS company’s international presence and expansions, the year-old CEO said that Perfios has faced broadly two kinds of challenges—regulatory and “understanding of culture” in different geographies despite the problem statements remaining the same by and large.
“One thing I want to put on record is that the amount of trust we have in our financial ecosystem, in financial institutions, and in the Indian government is unseen anywhere. If you travel to first-world countries, you will see that people aren’t willing to share data with government agencies, which is not the case here. We are sharing data with consent,” said Goswami.
“And that’s why we are seeing the next wave of open banking, open finance in India. We are seeing digital transformation happening at such a rapid pace in India. During COVID-19, we were the only country to make payments seamless and make it available to all,” he added.
Edited by Kanishk Singh