Capital Float secures $13 million in funding to give loans to small businesses – YourStory

Written by Jubin Mehta

Capital Float is a digital finance company that provides working capital loans to underserved small business in India via a technology-led loan origination and credit underwriting platform. The Bangalore based company today announced that it has raised $13 Million in Series A financing to support the company’s rapid growth. The round was led by SAIF Partners and Sequoia Capital, with participation from existing investor Aspada.

Founded in 2013, Capital Float has created a proprietary technology platform to evaluate the financial health of SMEs and efficiently deliver working capital to a segment that is underserved by traditional banks. Businesses can apply online and get funds in less than 7 days (see how it works). The company currently lends to e-commerce merchants, small manufacturers, and B2B service providers across major cities. The company has been founded by Stanford MBAs Sashank Rishyasringa and Gaurav Hinduja and is a registered Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC). Along with the headquarter in Bangalore, Capital Float has offices in New Delhi and Mumbai.

To date, the Capital Float platform has delivered nearly Rs. 40 Crore in loans to SMEs across 10+ cities in India. The company claims to have achieved record results in 2014 and saw a 10x increase in online applications, particularly in the e-commerce market where it has partnered with leading marketplaces such as Snapdeal, Flipkart, Amazon, PayTM and Myntra to finance small merchants selling online.

This round of funding will help expand Capital Float’s technology, enabling it to scale up nationally and launch new loan products. The company had raised a $4 Million seed round in mid-2014 from Aspada and SAIF, bringing the total capital raised thus far to Rs. 100 Crore in this fiscal.

“We started Capital Float with the belief that technology and data would be the key drivers in cracking SME financing in India,” said co-founders Gaurav Hinduja and Sashank Rishyasringa. “Over the past year, we’ve focused on building the platform to deliver what our customers want above all else – flexible and ultra-convenient access to finance that can scale with their business. By leveraging alternative data in our underwriting model, we are increasingly able to not only make faster decisions but also lend to emerging business models. We are very excited to partner with SAIF, Sequoia, and Aspada, and truly believe that we now have a world-class set of investors to propel us towards this vision.”

News piece sourced from YourStory. Read the full piece here

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How WhatsApp Business is Useful for Small Business Owners

As the past couple of years witnessed a drop in data costs, WhatsApp has successfully replaced the traditional offline messaging service as the primary mode of text communication in India. Leveraging this fact, this messaging platform launched WhatsApp Business – the pilot for a dedicated mobile app exclusively for businesses – in early September 2017.

Since its launch, popular brands in India such as BookMyShow and MakeMyTrip have been using this Facebook-owned WhatsApp business strategy to connect with their target audience. Though there are many apps that cater to business users, a messaging platform like WhatsApp provides a wider scope for a larger number of businesses, be it the local grocery store, professional services, medical institutions and even the government.

Features:

  • FREE OF COST
    You read right! WhatsApp Business lets you list your business and contact your customers at absolutely no cost. With a popular messaging app enabling business owners to send service messages for free, this could mean a gradual decrease for the conventional, but costly SMS facility. This WhatsApp business plan also counters the need for SMEs to create a mobile presence by designing smartphone apps, a distinct advantage for young enterprises from a cost and complexity perspective.
  • DESCRIPTIVE BUSINESS PROFILES
    If you own a small business without a website, WhatsApp Business allows you to describe your business in detail, and you can fill in addresses, contact numbers, social media links, etc. that lets your clients know more about the nature of your operations. The app takes verification seriously; a green tick appears against the name of your business when WhatsApp Business has corroborated the details you had provided.
  • MULTIPLE MESSAGING OPTIONS
    This unique feature of customized reply settings on WhatsApp Business ensures that you are customer-ready at all times. The ‘Quick reply’ option lets you set up standard responses to frequently asked questions. To all new leads who get in touch with you, the ‘Greeting message’ can introduce your business and what makes you different. You can also frame a custom ‘Away message’ for communications during off hours or when the small business owners are busy.
  • BUSINESS ANALYTICS
    More communication also means more data, which can be leveraged to understand your customers better. WhatsApp Business offers messaging statistics, a feature that provides metrics on the number of messages that were sent, delivered and read. Using this information, you can analyze the frequency of response from your leads or customers, modify the content of quick replies and experiment on the strategy of communicating with them.
  • WHATSAPP WEB SERVICES
    WhatsApp Business supports its projection via WhatsApp Web, which lets you manage the service through your computer without the mobile app. It provides additional efficiency when interacting with clients and partners, and leaves automation possibilities open as the system grows.

Setting up WhatsApp Business

WhatsApp Business in India is present only on the Play Store; so you will need an Android smartphone to use the app. As every WhatsApp account can be linked to unique mobile numbers, you register on this WhatsApp for business by using your official business number or your office landline.

Keep these ready before you set up the WhatsApp Business app, the steps for which are given below:

1. Backup your chat data to cloud storage if you already have a number which is primarily used for business with WhatsApp. Click on Chats>>Chat Backup>>Backup to upload to the cloud.

2. Download the app from the Google Play Store, install it and then launch it by tapping on the new WhatsApp Business icon.

3. Enter your business phone number that will be used to communicate to your customers, and verify it using the SMS (for mobile phones) or ‘call me’ option (for landlines).

4. Restore the previous chat related to the number once verification is complete (from Step 1).

5. Fill the name of your business and from the chat section, tap on the menu button and head to Settings>> Business settings>> Profile. Here, you can fill in all the details that you want to share with your customers.

What’s in it for small businesses?

WhatsApp Business is extended only to small businesses, an exclusivity that budding entrepreneurs can use to their advantage. The WhatsApp for business marketing aims at streamlining and extending the reach of small businesses without making hefty investments in website development, mobile app creation, customer support, and more.

Moreover, it helps notch up the idea of personalized marketing, as you can use the app to share images of products and promotions periodically to your loyal band of customers. The WhatsApp Business app also offers credibility to small businesses – a green tick against the name of your enterprise verifies the genuineness of your services and operations, an aspect that will help a majority of SMEs to reach out to a wider audience.

There are nearly 230 million WhatsApp users in India, and the fact that everyone knows how to use this WhatsApp for business use eliminates the time required to learn the nuances of a mobile application for businesses. Thus, WhatsApp Business is a ground-breaking solution to the communication and marketing needs of small businesses. We expect the introduction of WhatsApp Payments to act as a catalyst for this business with WhatsApp option to implement artificial intelligence, data analytics and voice recognition technology to optimize it into a powerful sales and marketing channel for small businesses.

Oct 24, 2018

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What Makes Unsecured Business Loans Safe for Your Small Business?

Unsecured small business loans are considered as one of the safest ways to raise short-term finance for meeting the working capital requirements or urgent funding needs of a business. The safety feature is attributable to the fact that these unsecured small business loans do not require any collateral or security in the form of assets of a business. Most small businesses do not have adequate assets to offer as collateral. The elimination of the need for collateral makes it possible for such businesses to raise loans.

Recent years have witnessed the launch of new-age lenders and the introduction of products that have revolutionized unsecured business loans in India. This is not merely via the easy access to funds, but also offering customized solutions for different businesses and tying the repayments to the accounts receivables or inflows from credit card sales of a business.

Ensure uninterrupted business operations

Often small and medium enterprises (SMEs) need funds for their daily operations to ensure the smooth functioning of their business. Funds may be required to purchase raw materials, pay wages and salaries, clear utility bills and meet unexpected expenses. SMEs may also need immediate funds to grab a business opportunity or take advantage of a seasonal upswing in the demand for their products. These funds are required before a business services its customers and raises invoices. The lack of availability of funds at this time can threaten the very survival of a business and, at the least, could throttle any growth opportunities.

This is when unsecured small business loans come to the rescue. SMEs are able to sustain their businesses with the help of such funding options.

The main reason behind the increasing popularity of unsecured small business loans in India is their easy availability. Only a few years back, businesses had no other option but to approach banks and other traditional financial institutions to raise funds. Even if a business could satisfy the stringent eligibility criteria for loans, it could take months before the funds were disbursed.

With the emergence of FinTech lenders, it has become possible to secure funds in a matter of days. Such lenders use the latest technology to assist the loan approval process, making the sanctioning and disbursal of loans swift and easy. Such loans are safe because they are easily available and ideal for preventing any disruption to operations.

Protect Your Bottom-Line

Most SMEs are unable to meet the eligibility criteria put forth by traditional financial institutions. In fact, it was impractical to approach banks for urgent liquidity needs, given their long-drawn approval processes. Thus, most businesses were left to the mercy of unorganized money lenders who would charge steep interest rates.

FinTech lenders now offer loans that are easy to access, with faster approval processes and more affordable interest rates. With these solutions in place, businesses can protect their bottom-line by raising unsecured business loans without paying exorbitant rates of interest charged by unorganized moneylenders.

Flexible Repayment Options

Unsecured business loans come with flexible repayment options. The term of the loan could range from six months to three years. The repayments can be on a daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. Some products like Capital Float’s Online Seller Finance and Merchant Cash Advances link repayment to the operating cycle or receivables and credit card sales of the business. This flexibility puts a business in a better position to make repayments. Since the repayment is a specific percentage of the monthly sales, there is no added pressure on the borrower to repay the loan. This also ensures that the borrower is not stressed about repayments when business is slow.

No Restriction on Use of Funds

When a business takes an unsecured short-term loan, the lender does not impose any restriction on how the business deploys these funds, unlike in the case of secured loans. The borrower can use the loan amount to fund daily operations, purchase raw materials, pay utility bills or market its business.

Flexible Loan Size

In the case of a secured loan, the amount that a business can borrow is determined by the value of the collateral. In the case of unsecured business loans, the amount can be determined by the need for funds. With Capital Float’s Merchant Cash Advances, a business can borrow any amount ranging between ₹1 lakh and ₹1 crore. Although the amount is correlated to the credit/debit card payments to a business, the loan can be as high as 200% of the monthly card settlement.

Related: How to Get Collateral Free SME Loans for Your Business in India

Defaulting on Repayment of Unsecured Small Business Loans

Unlike in the case of secured loans, a lender cannot seize any assets of the business in case of a nonpayment of the loan amount. However, defaulting on a loan can have serious consequences. A business may not be able to take another loan once it has defaulted in repaying one. The failure to meet repayment obligations could end in a lawsuit.

Prior to taking such serious measures; however, lenders would offer options to make it easier for a business to repay the loan. If a business is unable to repay a loan as per the scheduled timeline, the best thing to do is to contact the lender to explain the reasons for default and to set a revised repayment plan.

In fact, most experts advise SMEs to build a long-term relationship with the lender. Unsecured loans can be taken on a recurring basis, making money available exactly when a business needs it and planning repayments when the business is expecting an inflow of funds from customers.

Oct 24, 2018

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No Such Thing as Too Many Cooks

As an organization, we are out to ‘Break Limits’. We have arrived at the august club of ‘fastest growing financial services organizations’ in the shortest possible time, but that hasn’t been down to all work and no play. We have taken a ‘human first’ approach —we have a fun, personal side that we often tap into to unleash energies that are waiting to find expression.

At heart, an organisation is usually a reflection of its employees. People from different parts of the country, from different verticals and industries, come on board to join forces as a team, out to achieve common goals. What’s the secret sauce that binds them in this mission?

Capital Float Cookout

 

Capital Cookout - Chennai

India is a myriad mix of colours, culture, terrain, weather and of course food! It is not surprising that Indians are by nature great foodies and passionate food critics. Quality, taste and creativity are found in abundance, and bonding over food is in our DNA. Perhaps this was the reason why our people resources team decided to spice up life by organising a free-for-all cookout. Going by the results, they were well on target!

Held in Delhi and Chennai, the Capital Float Cookout was a food fiesta sprinkled with healthy doses of competition, cooperation, fun and, of course, food. Our Delhi office saw a “fireless cooking competition”, which involved 15 minutes of introduction, 45 minutes of cooking and 15 minutes of evaluation. It takes a lot of creativity and courage to cook up dishes that haven’t seen “fire”. The session in Chennai was colourful with a lot of variety. The Chennai office fielded five teams of seven members each and cooked up a storm of three to four dishes per team. The top three earned compliments, culinary fans and Amazon gift vouchers.

In all of this, a culture was created and seeded—a culture of camaraderie, fun, togetherness, friendship and cooperation.

Spirit of Fun and Togetherness

Capital Cookout - Delhi

 

Winners were not the only ones to stand out in these cookouts. What stood out was the fiercely competitive zest of the people trying to help their own competitors. What stood out was the happy backslapping among the teams and the sharing of food that was made for what was supposedly a “competition”.

Language barriers, functions, departments and designations all melted in the cooking pot, creating a cohesive team. And when a bunch of individuals come together as a team, there’s seldom any competition within. In the process, the team’s human side stands out—a sense of humour here; a deft salad chef there; an unexpected leader, musician and dancer. Interesting stories about each person emerge and amalgamate to create our unique culture – a culture of togetherness.

Moving forward, we will be organising the ‘cookout’ in various other office locations, beginning with Mumbai in a couple of weeks. This activity is surely going to stay, appeasing the palates of our team members and stirring a broth of excitement across the organization.

Oct 24, 2018