For Anuj Kacker, it was a question of one inch at a time. That’s because he and his two friends and serial entrepreneurs, Bala Parthasarathy and Kunal Varma, were entering uncharted waters with digital consumer lending startup MoneyTap in September 2015. None of the three co-founders had a fintech background. Kacker had had stints in the advertising world with Lowe and JWT, apart from co-founding a skills assessment platform; Parthasarathy, the most experienced of the trio, had donned the hats of venture capitalist, entrepreneur as well as worked with multiple companies, including ZipDial; and Varma, a computer science engineer from IIT Roorkee, ran two startups, besides working at Texas Instruments.
What is more, lending is a ruthless business. Kacker explains the dynamics of the credit business by borrowing Hollywood actor Al Pacino’s life and football analogy from the 1999 film Any Given Sunday: “One-half step too late or too early, you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow or too fast, and you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us,” said the actor, who played the role of a football coach.
In 2016, Kacker and his team began hunting for their inches across the cafeterias of 100 companies, including factories, information technology companies, multinationals, and startups in Bengaluru. “Please download the app if you ever need access to flexible and affordable money” was the pitch. The catchment area was huge, and the target group was salaried people looking for a quick loan towards the end of the month, for which MoneyTap had tied up with RBL Bank as a financial partner who offered the loans.
Three months into 2016, nothing was working. People were not comfortable talking about their financial needs. A poster in the office cafeterias read: ‘Are you short of money?’ “Who would make it obvious to colleagues that they need money?” Varma recalls. “Everybody needs cash, but nobody talks about it openly.” The mistake was rectified. The team went online. And that made a difference: Twenty applicants from one company on Day One. Since then there has been no looking back. The startup has found ample backers— RTP Global, Sequoia Capital (India) and New Enterprise Associates—who have pumped in over $80 million in the venture so far. In the last round this January, MoneyTap reportedly raised ₹500 crore in series B funding.
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