Posts tagged Loans
Posts tagged Loans
I first heard of BankBazaar from Rajesh Subramaniam, who invested in them from Walden Ventures. He mentioned that they offered you the option of getting the best interest rates on loans, on-line without going place to place, something like what E-Loan does in the US. My interest piqued, I have been following up to see how they are shaping up since then. So when I got a chance to reconnect during my recent visit to Chennai, I went across to their office and spent a good couple of hours getting to know the company, and Adhil Shetty, their Founder/CEO.
Adhil Shetty impresses you with his sincerity and his sense of mission. Those surely help to take your attention away from his boyish looks that are accentuated further by a mop of incredibly curly hair!
Their nicely done, well appointed office in the heart of Chennai’s CBD also does its bit to make you feel that Adhil means business - that he means it when he says he is out to be the “Make-My-Trip of the Financial Services World”!
Interestingly, Adhil’s cofounder is his own younger brother, Arjun. Just a year apart, the brothers share a very similar background - schooling at DonBosco, followed by Engineering at Anna University. The similarity doesn’t end here, as both studied and worked in the US, and decided to return to India in 2007-08. No wonder then, that they joined hands to set up BankBazaar. Curious to know more about the working dynamics between the two, I prodded Adhil to tell me more. Does Arjun follow what Adhil does?? Who does what within BankBazaar? Do they talk shop at home too?
Contrary to what one would think, Adhil says that it is he who follows his brother at times! At work, Arjun handles the operations, technology and customer service while Adhil handles Sales, Business Development, Finance, HR and Investors. They avoid stepping on each other’s toes with this clear demarcation in responsibilities. It is Arjun who brings the domain expertise as he was handling the Co-branded Credit Card Program of Amazon, and knows how well online financial offerings could scale if done correctly. Adhil is on the road most of the time getting in customers, and says he hardly gets to meet his brother more than once a month! He may not realize it yet, but given how lonely it gets to be in the CEO’s chair, he is very lucky to have his brother around to share the highs and lows.
BankBazaar, interestingly, started out as a B2C portal offering online access to loan products from major players like Axis Bank, HDFC etc. It virtually shepherds a customer through the entire loan application process by taking the customer details, shopping for the right terms with competing banks, presenting the options and finally, getting the selected option to approval stage. However, the team was smart enough to realize that the B2C model will take time and substantial marketing to ramp up, as Indian consumers do take long to warm up to any online model. This was true even for ticketing and shopping, categories that have moved online over a decade ago elsewhere in the world. So, they decided to white-label the platform, and offer it to Banks to enable them to give an on-line access to their customers. This brings in the needed cash flow, and allows them to time the market correctly. This could be an excellent strategy, as we all know that online traffic will pick up eventually, and the underlying market is indeed very big.
Adhil is very proud of the team that they have built this far. His motto, while hiring, is to ‘go for the best’. They have had some good experience hiring from IIT (Kharagpur) and swear by it. Kharagpur to Chennai - sounds like a national integration theme :-). Unlike many founders I meet who think they can do everything themselves, Adhil really believes that his job is to recruit the right people, and let them do their job. He takes hiring very seriously, which showed in the quality time he spent with me despite having gotten back from a business trip just a couple hours ago. They have set up a development center in Bangalore just to attract the best engineering talent - takes guts to do this at this early stage in the company!
So why is he doing all this? The idealist in him answers that they want to build a world class innovative product, generate good returns, and share it with all stakeholders - employees, investors, customers and business partners. More Power to him!
I stepped out into the ever-sunny Chennai outdoors. Something tells me that these guys will do what they have set out to do - they have a razor-sharp focus which is half the battle won in any start-up.