Interviewed by Kritika Prashant
Typically, choosing to finance the SMEs looking for working capital loans, is not easy. First, the SMEs have smaller ticket size. Then they expect quick service and have high operational costs associated with it. ProductNation interviewed Shashank Rijyasringa and Gaurav Hinduja who started Capital Float in early 2013, a digital finance company that serves the loan requirements of SMEs in India.
Shashank having worked with McKinsey and Bain, has a background in creating, and packaging financial instruments. Gaurav on the other hand had grown and sold his family business before they met at Stanford as classmates.
“We were looking to address financial inclusion. We observed how the fin-tech space was being disrupted in US and China, and saw the huge opportunity in India. With 48 million SMEs, second just to China, with 50 million, India needed lenders who would tailor their offering to the needs of the customers. The rate of interest by the banks was much higher than expected. Also, the loan disbursement ate up a lot of time. So this need was largely catered to by the informal sector”, says Gaurav.
Registered as an NBFC with RBI, they started with an instrument for invoice financing (building loan product against invoice of blue-chip companies). The duo gradually evolved their products to provide working capital loans for SMEs. They developed underwriting models which address the specific scenarios of the SMEs.
“There are 2 broad categories of sellers coming up on eCommerce portals. First are those who sell on platforms like Zovi and Myntra, where the sellers are also the manufacturers. Other category includes retailers who sell on sites like Snapdeal and Paytm. They generate a huge demand for loans available at short notice periods with minimum hassle. That is where we found our sweet spot”, shares Shashank.
Here are some experpts from the interview:
How did you overcome the problems of traditional lending?
SR: “Firstly, our experience came in handy. My in-depth knowldge of micro-financing, packaging and selling loan instrument meant we could build the right services. Gaurav with his experience of running a business out of India, knew how to deliver the services we wanted to build.
Secondly, we met with our customers to understand what their problems really were. To a small business owner, every hour spent off the floor is an hour wasted. We came up with innovative methods like allowing same day approvals and providing loan facility over phone and laptop. These businesses needed greater accessibility and straight-forward procedures. They wanted someone who could understand the value of their time.
Third, and definitely the most crucial point was that we adopted trial and error method. Like any startup, we didn’t know exactly how things would work. We were building our instruments in-house. So we had to fail fast and experiment quickly. With agile methodology, today, we can deliver new loan products in 2 weeks. A bank would take about an year to do the same.”
How is the policy environment evolving in India, with respect to your industry?
GH: “The Mudra banks for refinancing are a welcome move. With 950 million Aadhar numbers issued, allowing eKYC, is it much easier to issue loans. The Digital India initiative to create better internet connectivity will help us reach a much larger customer base.”
They are leveraging the Indian stack to refine their instruments and are growing with it.
How difficult is it to get payback of loans?
SR: “SMEs are the most financially aware and responsible segment, since they always manage their finances tightly. Also, our screening process mitigates high risk customers, allowing us to cater to the needs in minimum possible time frame. So that’s not much of an hassle.”
What would be the 3 lessons you have learned from your journey?
GH: “1. Perseverance – One needs to believe that the idea would work, when no one else knows if it will. It is important to stick to that optimism and keep trying to find the exact fit.
- Strong fundamentals – From the first day, the business needs to know where its money will come from. The cash flow should not be dependent on where one is, in the funding cycle.
- Rounded team – Build a great team if you want to build a great product. A strong team stands by you to make it possible.”
What would you say to the entrepreneurs starting up fresh out of college?
SR: “There is no right time to startup. Whenever you get passionate about a problem and see a large market for it, go for it. Here are my 3 tips:
- Address a big problem. If you go after a problem which is not so big, it may not be worth all the effort. India provides huge opportunities with really major problems that need to be addressed.
- Maintain discipline. Whatever you do, think big and build for the long term.
- Understand your responsibility. As you grow your team, you need to realise that families of your employees are getting dependent on you. It is essential that you take your decisions wisely.”
What are the mistakes you wish you did not make?
GH: “We were too slow in the start. We should have been aggressive, and believed in ourselves more. We thought people might not accept a technological solution. We have realized however, that technology has to lead the change in society. Invest in constantly being disruptive and you will definitely make a difference.”
News piece sourced from ProductNation. Read the full piece here.
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The Digital SME
If you’ve been reading the papers over the last year, you must have come across the words ‘digital’ and ‘SME’ on almost a daily basis. From the the ‘Digital India’ initiative by the government to cut red-tape, bureaucracy and dare I say even corruption, to the KPMG-Snapdeal report on how going digital (or selling online) has helped SMEs increase their turnover and profitability, there’s a lot of excitement in India about SMEs going digital.
Over the past few months I’ve been asking myself a couple of questions:
- Do SMEs really understand what “going digital” means?
- Do SMEs know what are the benefits of going digital?
Going Digital: What does this really mean?
Depending on which report you read, SMEs can sell products online for prices between ₹1500- ₹3000. So does this mean the SME has now gone digital? I think not. This just means the SME now sells its products online and therefore has a greater reach, which to be honest is a great achievement in itself, but the SME still has to adopt technology internally for it to go truly digital. A modern digital SME is powered by solutions that are spread across multiple functions: From Customer Acquisition to Risk Management to Operational Efficiency to Enabling/Empowering Workforce. Adopting new age technological solutions internally will allow an SME to achieve scale and more importantly operational efficiency at a lower cost. Some of the largest start-ups have managed to scale globally because they have successfully done this. Firms like Practo, AirBnB and Uber for example, have successfully incorporated technology in their internal processes which has allowed them to grow globally at a rapid pace.
The rapid growth of technology has given SMEs:
- Access to Enabling Infrastructure through increasing device penetration and an enhancement in internet connectivity.
- Availability of economically feasible enterprise solutions and services along with a thriving mobile applications (apps) ecosystem.
- Customers who have adopted technology and ecosystems that are allowing this adoption through key initiatives.
Going Digital: Key Benefits
4 areas are likely to be directly benefited if SMEs adopt technology:
A) Customer Acquisition
Technology can be leveraged to access clients in distant geographies and create a greater visibility among target segments. Personalisation in engagement and customer relationships, for both new and existing clients, can be managed in a more efficient manner. The immense data that is captured using technology will allow SMEs to develop customer intelligence which will then allow them to optimize sales and engage with various ecosystems to open new sales channels.
B) Operational Efficiency
Automation and streamlining of core processes will allow the SME to become more efficient, reduce wastage and utilize resources in an optimal manner. This will allow them to enhance the customer experience and optimize their supply chain management through better visibility and control over logistics. With efficient processes in place, SMEs will be able to choose suitable potential partnerships that will fit their internal processes and not cause any disruption,
C) Workforce Enablement
Technology can go a long way in identifying workforce shortfall and identifying key areas of skill development needed within the organisation. A number of digital tools are now available for employees to collaborate and for the SME to monitor employee productivity. Web based solutions for skill development and training for employees will help the SME ensure that employees are empowered with new tools and concepts on a regular basis
D) Risk Management
With use of technology comes the responsibility to protect the information the firm has gathered. Data Security becomes paramount for customer/employee data as well as the company’s financial information. Digital solutions for preventing such leaks would strengthen the organisation. Technology can also be used to safeguard and monitor physical assets through the use of surveillance, asset control and tracking solutions.
There has never been a better time for SMEs in India to “go digital” and leverage technology to incorporate financially feasible solutions.
|Akshay joined Capital Float after completing MBA from Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. Following 6 years with Deutsche Bank across various functions and geographies, he opened a French Italian bistro in India. At Deutsche Bank, Akshay worked across risk management, structuring derivative products, trading Indian government bonds and structuring and executing assets financing trades.
Akshay manages Capital Markets at Capital Float.
Oct 24, 2018
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.
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
Plastic money has revolutionised the commercial world in the last two decades, both for consumers as well as business owners. With the recent demonetization, more customers are compelled to use cards to purchase goods and avail services. An increasing number of merchants are installing point-of-sale card machines to ensure that sales are unaffected. After all, a card swipe is undoubtedly quicker and more convenient than cash.
Now, the receipts of those card swipes can help you raise capital to expand your business operations. Whether you’re a retailer, restaurateur, or a small-to-medium business owner whose revenue comes primarily from credit and debit card sales, Capital Float’s ‘Merchant Cash Advance’ is a quick, hassle-free financing option to fund all your working capital needs.
With Merchant Cash Advance, you can receive up to 200% of your monthly sales from card payment machines. The repayment process is entirely hassle-free on your part. Your POS partner repays a percentage of your daily card sales on your behalf as instalment for the loan. The balance amount is paid to you on a daily basis. So, instead of being burdened by hefty fixed repayments every month, you pay an agreed-upon percentage of your daily credit/debit card sales, until the advance is paid in full.
- Loan amount of up to Rs. 1 cr
Traditional banks aren’t as generous when it comes to how much you can borrow. Add to that the piles of documentation and proofs of credit score that you need to submit, which only elongate the process. At Capital Float, on the other hand, you’re eligible for an advance of up to Rs. 1 cr, depending upon your monthly card settlement and ability to repay between a tenure of 6 months to a year.
- Loan tenure of 6 months to 1 year
Every line of business has different challenges and requirements. We understand the importance of providing flexible credit offerings that are tailored to your business need. You can avail Merchant Cash Advance for a period varying between six months to one year. If you have a short-term working capital need, a six-month long loan might be ideal. Similarly, if your need involves securing a larger loan and if you would like to spread out the repayment schedule, you could take the loan for a period of one year.
- Get up to 200% finance on your monthly card machine sales
With Merchant Cash Advance, you can receive up to 200% working capital finance on monthly sales from card machines. As more customers use debit and credit cards to shop, your sales from point-of-sale machines is likely to increase significantly. These sales records can help you avail quick finance that you could channel into running your business. Our sophisticated loan product opens a new avenue of formal financing for you, as you seek credit channels to leverage business opportunities.
- Cash-flow friendly daily repayments
Usually, small business loans have a fixed repayment plan, wherein, you pay the same amount every month based upon the agreed-upon interest rate. At Capital Float, you pay back as per your daily credit/debit sales. Take, for example, if the agreed upon repayment is 15% of your credit card receipts, we will deduct 15% in proportion to how much business you’ve done through the day, until the repayment is done in full.
- Get funding in 3 days
It’s a highly competitive business world, and in case a potential opportunity knocks on your door, the last thing you want to do is wait for the funds to reach you. One of the many USPs of Merchant Cash Advance is its potential for fast approval and disbursal. Through our data-driven competencies, we render a decision within hours and deliver funds to you within 72 hours, so that you waste no time in covering an unexpected business expense or capitalising on a lucrative business opportunity.
- Zero collateral
Traditional banks cover their risk by taking collateral form the borrower while giving a loan. Given the completely unsecured nature of Merchant Cash Advance, you don’t have to put any personal or business assets on the line. All we require is your banking documents for last 12 months, KYC documents, VAT returns for last six months and card settlement statements for 3 months prior to loan application.
- Simple and secure online process
Like many small business loans of this type, you can apply for an advance from wherever you are, as long as you have a computer or cell phone with an internet connection. The procedure is extremely simple, and takes a mere ten minutes of your time. All you need to do is fill out an application form, upload the necessary documentation. The process is designed to be convenient for you. We maintain strict security protocols, safeguarding your data at all times.
Eligibility and Documents
To qualify for a loan at Merchant Cash Advance, you must comply with the following parameters:
- Your business must have minimum operational history of 1 year
- Minimum turnover of ₹20,00,000
- Minimum card acceptance vintage of 6 months
- Minimum monthly card volume of ₹1,00,000
- Minimum of six settlements per month
- Your banking documents for last 12 months
- VAT returns for last six months prior to loan application
- Card settlement statements for 3 months prior to loan application. All acquirer banks, except American Express, are eligible.
- The company’s as well as the promoter’s KYC documents
Fees and Charges
At Capital Float, we conduct business in the most transparent manner. This means, you’re only obligated to pay a processing fee of up to 2% for the loan. There are no hidden or pre-closure penalties during or after your application procedure.
Oct 24, 2018