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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

Oct 24, 2018

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5 Common SME Financing Mistakes To Avoid

The SME (small and medium enterprises) sector is an important contributor to India’s economic growth. Even though their product or service may add great value for certain people, many SMEs face challenges. This is mostly because of the lack of research and planning by the business owners about the potential opportunities and risks of the particular niche in which these units operate. Many-a-times such businesses fail to make accurate assessments of their working capital requirements and, even when they do, cannot find ways to finance them.

Some common financing mistakes made by SMEs relate to whether or not to borrow, estimating the correct amount of SME business loan required, checking the full financing cost, the time wasted on getting a loan approved and the opportunity costs.

SME Financing Options and Some Common Mistakes

The Government and the private sector have taken several initiatives to increase availability of small business loans to SMEs in India. Despite the improved availability of SME finance, many units are still struggle with easy access to finance. This is mainly due to the lack of awareness of new-age, innovative financing solutions that are offered by FinTech lenders like Capital Float.

Here are the five most common financing mistakes made by SMEs:

1. Lack of Planning: One of the gravest shortcomings of smaller businesses is the inability to plan for the longer term. Business owners tend to get so involved with daily operations, troubleshooting and trying to complete orders that they fail to step back and look at the bigger picture. In the absence of a business plan, many SMEs do not foresee the amount of cash they would require to grow and expand. They suddenly find themselves in a severe cash crunch, unable to meet their working capital needs.

A sound business plan is essential for approaching a bank for a loan. Moreover, the ability to project a cash crunch or the funds needed to grow would allow SMEs to approach banks in time, since traditional lending institutions may take months before sanctioning the loan. This is where FinTech lenders have eased the situation. By deploying cutting-edge technology, Capital Float can ensure loan approval within hours. The use of powerful algorisms helps determine the prospects of a business, easing the process of loan approval. In fact, such lenders do not require a formal business plan for sanctioning SME finance.

2.Wrong Estimation of Funds Required: Most business owners feel anxious about overestimating their loan requirement and having to pay interest on excess funds. This makes them lean towards underestimating their costs. Thus, even when a loan is disbursed, these businesses are left wanting for more. Of course, the overestimation of the loan requirement hits the bottom-line.

What such businesses need is Capital Float’s Pay Later Finance product, which offers a Predetermined credit amount. While a credit amount is determined, based on the prospects of the business, the SME has the flexibility to transfer only as much funds, as it currently needs. Repayments can be made as the business generates money, and the repayment restores the credit amount, making funds available for future requirements.

3.Hidden Charges: Several lenders burden SMEs with hidden fees. These charges may be exorbitant and the business owner may not even know when they are levied. At Capital Float, perfect transparency is maintained, with no hidden charges. In fact, unlike most traditional banking institutions that impose a fee for the early repayment of a loan, there are no prepayment charges at Capital Float.

4.Choosing the Wrong SME Finance Product: Most SMEs turn toward unorganized moneylenders or traditional banking institutions to borrow money. These loans are not tailored to the specific needs of the SMEs. New-age lenders like Capital Float offer various SME business loans that have been designed keeping in mind the needs, business model and ability to repay of different businesses.

5.Trying to Arrange Collateral: SMEs sometimes put too much at stake to get a loan or do not borrow money in the absence of collateral. Capital Float offers small business loans in India without the requirement for collateral. One can also opt for a Merchant Cash Advance, which converts accounts receivables of a business to quick and usable funds.

Apart from these common mistakes made by small businesses, the timing of the loan approval and receipt of funds plays a critical role in the success of SMEs. Any delay in arranging the necessary funds can prove catastrophic for a business. This is mainly because SMEs often do not have sufficient negotiating power with their suppliers. They need to make payments for raw materials long before they can raise an invoice to their customers.

The rapid evolution of technology to address SME finance needs have revolutionized the lending space. The objective of FinTech lenders is to eliminate the liquidity issues faced by the SME sector by ensuring the quick approval and disbursal of the loan amount, while also making it easier for these smaller businesses to repay the loan. However, to make use of these advantages, SMEs need to be made aware of such options.

Oct 24, 2018

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Successfull business tips in 2017: way to grow

Rationally encounter consequences ut that are extremely painful nor us again all is were seds anyone who loves desires.

Oct 24, 2018