Everybody thought we were nuts – TOI

Written by Shilpa Phadnis. 

When Stanford MBA graduates Sashank Rishyasringa and Gaurav Hinduja started online lending startup Capital Float, it was counter-consensus. All around them they had naysayers, including investors who they had approached early on.

“You guys must be nuts -lending is not a business for you.” “It’s an offline business. You guys have to set up branches.” “Why don’t you guys start an e-commerce or a big data company.” These were some of the comments, recalls Sashank. About the only ones who believed in their idea were their parents.

The two worked with Baba Shiv, professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, to shape their idea of democratizing access to capital. “We wanted small and medium businesses to have access to credit on collateral-free terms.People needed loans against their business health and not against personal property,” Sashank says.

Capital Float started in 2013 and is the trade name of Zen Lefin, a non-banking finance company (NBFC) registered with the RBI.

Sashank, who was passionate about policy and development, was an engagement manager with McKinsey & Co in New York and India before he teamed up with Hinduja to start Capital Float. He graduated in economics from Princeton Uni versity and did an MBA from Stanford. Hinduja was the head of operations at Gokaldas Exports, overseeing one of the country’s largest apparel manufacturers.

 Banks, Sashank says, follow a cookie-cutter approach in assessing SMEs.Their lending policies are restrictive, collateral re quirements are inflexible and disbursements take up to 60 days. There are over 3 crore registered SMEs in the country and around Rs 7 lakh crore of loans have been disbursed through banks to them. But estimates show that the unmet demand is over Rs 9 lakh crore. “We wanted to use tech to bring agility to lending, become a lender as fast and flexible as a family member, but do it in a formal way ,” Sashank says.
Capital Float created flexible credit products that have helped SMEs get out of the clutches of informal sector financiers who charge high interest rates. One of the early customers was a mobile phone vendor from Bhilwara in Rajasthan. “He had pledged his house to get seed capital to start his business. He sold mobile phones on Snapdeal and had a great track record. From Rs 5 lakh a year back, he runs a Rs 50 lakh credit line with us today ,” Sashank says.
Capital Float has partnered with e-commerce marketplaces like Snapdeal, Flipkart, Amazon and Paytm to finance small merchants selling online. “We give an in-principle approval in 10-15 minutes after assessing the credit risk. Borrowers can apply online in minutes, select desired repayment terms and receive funds in their bank accounts in seven days with minimal hassle. We want to benchmark lending to the ecommerce experience,” Sashank says.
The company uses proprietary algorithms to check fraud and repayment history , and uses psychometrics to assess entrepreneurs’ payment ability . “We have taken the human bias out of financing and lowered the cost of lending,” Sashank says.

Now, with Rs 200 crore of loans disbursed, and $17 million raised from investors including SAIF Partners and Aspada, the early scepticism around their venture has more or less vanished.

News piece sourced from the Times of India. Read the original article here

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5 Things to Know About Short Term Business Loans

If you are planning to embark on a new venture or are already running an enterprise, knowing all about short-term loans will serve you well.

Money plays a crucial role in your entrepreneurial journey, determining the size and scope of your business. After all, when you are brimming with ideas to cater to a market need, the last thing you want on your hands is a financial concern that could result in a compromised business opportunity.

Fortunately every problem has a solution and financial solutions for businesses come in many forms.

Reach out to experts

Should you require commercial finance, a short-term business loan could prove to be immensely useful. Wondering what exactly short-term loans are? You could ask friends who have applied for one, or approach specialized financial companies like us. You would be better placed to know more about short term business loans before applying for one. This is particularly useful if you are venturing into business for the first time as a small entrepreneur.

What is a short-term loan?

The simplest way to understand the concept of a short-term loan is to think of it as a business loan that provides immediate working capital to your company. You are given a lump sum amount that you have to repay within a period of one year, or up to five years at most. This is in contrast to other loans which can be repaid over a longer term.

Financial experts say that a short term business loans hold the potential of making or breaking your company. As per a study, conducted by the National Small Business Association, 19% of small business owners cite lack of available capital as the major challenge in their growth, and 82% of businesses fail due to improper management of cash flow.

Given its importance to small businesses, let’s take a quick look at the implications of a short-term business loan.

Factors to keep in mind

Short-term loans are easier to obtain as compared to long-term loans. You can avail of them in the alternative finance market through online lenders, and thus you can completely bypass the slow and cumbersome conventional lenders like banks. These loans are less tedious to get as they have a shorter list of qualifications and lesser paperwork. But you also need to repay them faster, usually within a year. If you manage to raise your profitability in the short term, this can be comfortably achieved.

However, there are certain points that you need to keep in mind while applying for a short-term loan. The interest rates of short-term loans are relatively higher in the commercial finance segment. Thus, it’s advisable for you to go through and understand the total cost of the loan before applying for it. Short-term loans often demand frequent payments from you. In case you don’t have regular/stable cash flow, you may find it difficult to repay your loan with weekly payments.

To help you further, here are five things you should know before applying for a short-term loan.

  1. Be clear about the purpose: Having a clear purpose is the pre-requisite for exploring a short-term business loan. It’s of utmost importance to be crystal clear as to the purpose of the loan—to hire new talent, expand your supplier network, invest in technology etc. If the purpose is not clear, the loan amount could well be frittered away on incidental expenses that can hold back the progress of young companies. Analyze in detail if the short-term loan is going to work for you in your current situation.
  2. Have an operational plan: Have a clear business strategy in place before securing a loan from a financier. It’s crucial to have a strategy that optimizes your resources. Without a proper business plan/strategy, it’s likely that you are going to find yourself in a debt-trap.
  3. Research interest rates and overall cost: Interest rates are an important part of any loan. It’s a smart move to know the interest rates on your dream loan early on, along with the other charges/fees that your lender may levy. A fee would not cause an increase in your interest rate, but it will be a part of your monthly payments.
  4. Calculate risks: As a wise entrepreneur, it is crucial that you carefully weigh all the possible risks before arriving at any decision. Analyze and ask yourself questions like: Will this loan help me in reaping the benefits? Will it generate regular cash flow? Will I be able to repay my loan in regular weekly or monthly payments?
  5. Know your loan duration: Apart from calculating all the risks, and having the strategy in place, it is important to know the duration of your loan and to choose the repayment tenure wisely. You can choose a slightly extended period, keeping risks and emergencies in mind, instead of choosing a short tenure.

Take a leap of faith

We understand that the journey of any venture, especially of a small business, is not an easy one. It takes a lot to take your business to a certain level and when issues like finances become a hindrance, one is likely to lose hope. But remember, today’s new age financial solutions offer a timely respite. Yet, you need to have an analytical and calculative mind, which can understand the pros and cons of the loan in order to leverage it fully.

If you are still in a dilemma, wondering how to get loan for your business or are unable to decide if a short-term business loan suits you or not, we, at Capital Float would be more than happy to assist you.

Oct 24, 2018