Blog on Start-Up, Media, Fund Raise|CreditMantri more about CreditMantri financial Blogs about our personal experience as a start-up and more about CIBIL and Credit score at Credimantri.Blogen-us2016 | CreditMantri Random Thoughts on Running a Start-Up<p><img class='center' src=''/></p><p><span>I&rsquo;ve always had the entrepreneurial bug lurking inside me and after working for more than 20 years at a multi-national bank, I decided to take the plunge and build my own Start-Up. Most of the clich&eacute;s you hear about starting out on your own are true &ndash; the highs you get from achievements, the lows when things aren&rsquo;t going well, the ceaseless hard work, and the unpredictability of how things will work out. Below are some random thoughts from my personal experience as a start-up founder that I hope you find interesting.</span><span><br /></span></p> <p><span><span>1. You&rsquo;ve got to Find Something You Love to do and Then Try Your Hardest to Be Great at It.</span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>Don&rsquo;t start a company unless you are obsessed with the idea, or it is something you thoroughly enjoy doing. Remember, if you have an exit strategy, then it is probably not an obsession. You absolutely need to be solving a meaningful consumer problem. The idea has to be scalable for you to be able to &lsquo;knock it out of the park&rsquo;. As founders, each of us had some ideas on what we were venturing out to do, but we tossed many balls in the air first, before finalizing on the one thing that we would put our energies behind. We knew our core competencies and our constant focus is to always be great at this.</span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>2. Invest Time And Energy On Building A Good Team</span></span></span></span>&nbsp;</p> <p>Every single person in a small start-up needs to love their job, and if they do, they will find ways to make it a success. If you are missing a core competency, pay to hire the best. Spend time with your people and always keep your hand on the pulse.</p> <p>One of the joys of a start-up is the (relative) freedom from rigid hierarchies and politics that can be the bane of a large established company. You can set the tone for the company by making sure it has a flat feel and people have the independence and confidence to act according to their abilities. Since it is a small group of people, it is vital to maintain constant contact with your team &ndash; open offices keep everyone in tune with what&rsquo;s going on and keeps the energy up. It is always necessary to keep a pulse on stress levels and accomplishments, and ensure people are acknowledged and appreciated for good work and counselled and mentored when the going gets tough.</p> <p><span><span><span><span>3. When Faced With Ethical/Moral Challenges &ndash; Always Do The Right Thing.</span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span>I am not elaborating on this point since it would otherwise sound condescending. Don&rsquo;t overthink this &ndash; just read the line and follow it.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span>4. The Company We Run Today Is Not Quite The Company We Started, And Will Probably Not Be The Company We Run 3 Years From Now.</span></p> <p><span><span>A start-up needs to be always flexible. It doesn&rsquo;t have the luxury of time or resources to tide over challenging situations &ndash; unlike an established company. You need to quickly recognize challenges to your way of thinking, and be able to let go of dearly held plans and beliefs in order to adjust to these externally created challenges. When our plans meet the real world, the real world wins! When we started out at Credit Mantri, we had numerous ideas in our heads and our prior experience as bankers had trained us to look at our business potential through a particular lens that we were familiar and comfortable with. We had a framework, a long term objective, a compelling vision, knew our core competency, and from there we planned and strategized what might work, determined what was important and how things might develop. We thought we had a perfect plan. Then, we tried to generate sales, and found that we quickly needed to revisit our earlier assumptions. Then, we met with potential investors, who definitely helped us hone our strategy.</span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>5. Overnight Success Does Not Exist!</span></span></span>&nbsp;</p> <p><span><span><span>Starting a company and making it a success involves a tremendous amount of hard work. You face numerous setbacks before you get a sense of what is likely to succeed. Successful entrepreneurs fail often, but they get up and give it another go &ndash; it is this untiring desire to succeed through trial and error that is the key to success. One has to learn to cope with failure in order to achieve, and then enjoy, success. I recall a quote that goes something like this &ndash; &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re unwilling to fail, sometimes publicly, and even catastrophically, you stand very little chance of ever being successful.&rdquo;</span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span>6. Everything Takes Longer Than You Think &ndash; Important To Plan For Delays.</span></span></span></span></p> <p>Starting and building a business takes time. First-time founders underestimate almost all aspects of starting, running and growing a business. Most plans, projections and forecasts will not come true, at least not at the times you had originally predicted. One has to be prepared for delays, missed deadlines and cost overruns &ndash; many of which are not in your hands. It is essential to have some personal and organizational financial buffers in place to tide over sales and profit forecast misses.</p> <p>I could have provided specific examples for each of the points listed above, but without a broader context, these might not have resonated as clearly for you as they did for me, and so at the risk of these sounding like general motherhood and apple-pie statements, I decided to pen them nevertheless!</p> <p>And finally a quote that had guided and continues to guide me &ndash; &ldquo;If you wish to be rich, you must grow a mental armour. Not too thick to blind you to well-constructed criticism and advice, especially from those you trust (or those who matter!). Nor too thick to cut-off family and friends.&rdquo;</p> your first fund raise<p><img class='center' src=''/></p><p><span>Excitement &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Hard work &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Anxiety &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Elation &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Relief &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Excitement</span></p> <p>This is not child birth am talking about nor is it getting your child the school admission. It&rsquo;s about raising your first dollars to fund your idea.</p> <p>The excitement starts when you have signed a Term Sheet, that presumably contains all broad terms and conditions under which your investors are going to invest. You feel after a couple of days of intense discussion with your lawyer, you have understood what it means and you sign off. But what that triggers is series of irreversible set of activities that jostles you into a lane where hopefully there is only one way out. GET FUNDED!</p> <p>The first thing that happens is commencement of Due Diligence Review or DDR. I don&rsquo;t know why DDR rings in my mind as Dreaded Review. There is an intimidating list of requirements thrown at you by lawyers and accountants, who take for granted entrepreneurs know it all.</p> <p>A casual review the moment I got the list told me two things. One there is a lot I was not aware that the law requires us to know. Two, I was not sure if we had our housekeeping to have all of these requirements fulfilled.</p> <p>So it&rsquo;s now HARD WORK time. The next 24 hours whizzed past in reviewing and understanding the requirement and finally setting up a team to &ldquo;put things&rdquo; together. So off we started tracing, fishing every document required and focus was really on. You pride yourself on your ability to understand the law and feel assured things have gone the right way. Life was all around have you filed this, have you filed that, where is this paper etc.</p> <p>So much was the intensity that one morning I asked my wife, &ldquo;Where have you filed my blue shirt?&rdquo;! I received a &ldquo;lost it&rdquo; look from her.</p> <p>All was fine until one fine day you get two fifty plus paged documents in most legally chaste language. These are the Share Holder Agreement and Share Subscription Agreement. These are two important documents that govern your future life as &ldquo;PROMOTERS&rdquo;. Suddenly everything else was irrelevant. The next one week saw us in deep dive and accelerated course in understanding legal verbiage. This is when you try think of unimaginable course of events that could happen to you, some make you shudder and wish it will never happen.</p> <p>Ok. That&rsquo;s done. We have inked the deal. Happy. But the game is not over. Focus shifts back to the results of DDR. It&rsquo;s like past sins catching up. You still need to close out all open ends, dot the I&rsquo;s and cross the T&rsquo;s. Now you are racing against time and yourself to complete to the satisfaction of the DDR folks. Round the clock work happens when everyone you see around is assigned a task to complete the &ldquo;Conditions Precedent&rdquo;. The last 72 hours are all of suspense, drama, surprises and your ability to hold your head above all that&rsquo;s happening is tested. You have to keep pushing all around to one goal. CLOSE THIS FAST!!</p> <p>With great sense of achievement and relief we completed the requirements just before the cut-off. The next 4-6 hours is the wait and anxiety for the funds to come. That&rsquo;s when your mind is unable to focus on anything. There is a nervous excitement that&rsquo;s building up within you.</p> <p>Then comes the BEEP BEEP. Your phone SMS tells you that the your account has been credit with the FUNDS!!!!!. YIPPIEE. What a relief!! There is celebration, thanking everyone. It&rsquo;s almost like Diwali.</p> <p>So to get funding you need a great IDEA, great&nbsp;<a href="">CO-FOUNDERS</a>&nbsp;and great bunch of INVESTORS!</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s to many more of such moments!</p> Featured in Media<p><img class='center' src=''/></p><p>It is great when a start-up gets mentioned in the media &ndash; more so in the national media. CreditMantri was featured in the &lsquo;Small Biz&rsquo; section of the Economic Times today and it set me thinking about the constraints and advantages that start-ups face when marketing, advertising and raising general awareness about the company.</p> <p>Every start-up wants to widen its customer base in order to increase revenues. Unfortunately, every startup faces the problem of budgeting for advertising and marketing to reach those new customers! There are so many areas that we need to spend on &ndash; hiring people, upgrading technology, office infrastructure, etc. that brand building tends to get relegated lower down on the list. We like to focus our spending on improving our existing customers&rsquo; experience with us so that they can get the best possible service. However, this often means that little is left over for the big-budget brand building that is often required.</p> <p>That is why any acknowledgement of our company and our work is always welcome as it reaches thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of readers across the country and lets them know about what we do. Being featured in a leading national business daily is good news for any company, but especially so, for a revenue-constrained start-up.</p> <p>Social media has been a huge bonus for start-ups. It is possible to spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and so on. Social media is a double &ndash;edged sword. If you have an excellent product and service (I like to think we do at CreditMantri), the word of mouth spread on social media can be better at getting in customers than paid-advertising. However, a poor product can lead to equally rapid spread of criticism and negative publicity.</p> <p>So whether your brand-building budget is huge or non-existent, your visibility and reputation is only as good as your product.</p> of a Startup Man-The journey begins<p><img class='center' src=''/></p><p><span>A long journey begins with a small step&hellip;</span></p> <p><strong>We have taken the small step!</strong>&nbsp;We have embarked on a long journey. We know where the destination is. We can see it in the horizon. But the path that leads to it is myriad.</p> <p>The first month was exciting. It literally whizzed past! You don&rsquo;t have much time to enjoy the feeling of fund raise. Pretty soon what hits you suddenly is the enormity of the task. Quite overwhelming and humbling. Money comes with responsibility. In this case we now had the power to do things we wanted to do. Change things we wanted to change. Try things we wanted to try.&nbsp;<strong>But spend where we should wisely.</strong></p> <p>Once the funds came in, the post-closing formalities kicked in. Within a week 10 days we had to get the ball rolling on all fronts. There was the new Board to be in place, regulatory filing to be done and a host of other formalities to be completed. Phew! Quite a lot for a small company.</p> <p>We had our new product launch.&nbsp;<strong>CMOL! CreditMantri Online</strong>. CMOL is soon to be on everyone&rsquo;s lips. It started as a &ldquo;lite&rdquo; initiative, when we first had it in the drawing board. It is now fairly comprehensive and rich in functionality.&nbsp;<strong>First of its kind</strong>&nbsp;in India and what a proud moment it was.</p> <p>The launch itself was like child birth. We had almost everyone in rolling up sleeves and checking, testing signing off all modules before we go live. And it did! With engines revving up, CMOL is now a beauty. Feed- back has been good and as an entrepreneur you feel the parental pride of your ward doing well.</p> <p>Well, what else? We are hiring. Some great folks have joined us. Its really fantastic to work with a bunch of highly motivated and passionate set of folks. Some mavericks, some level headed, combination is good and discussions can get very exciting.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s now back to business and serious one at that. Taking some time off to write this missive. See you soon</p> credit score? No need to worry.<p><img class='center' src=''/></p><p><span>No credit score? No need to worry.</span></p> <p>Anyone who has applied for a loan or credit card knows how important their credit score is in securing a loan &ndash;even if they don&rsquo;t quite understand how it is calculated! Between your score and credit report, lenders have enough information to make a decision on whether to advance you more credit. Your credit worthiness is the &lsquo;Open Sesame&rsquo; that unlocks the gates to the world of credit opportunities.</p> <p>But what happens if you do not have a credit score that lenders can refer to? That is the story of millions of Indians who are ready to enter the credit marketplace but do not have a credit score due to lack of any prior formal credit activity. This includes newly employed workers who are just starting to earn enough to think of a first credit card or loan; older people who may not have chosen, or may not have needed, to apply for a loan in the past; or people from semi-rural areas who have not accessed the formal banking sector for credit.</p> <p>So with no or very little credit history to go by, how do potential lenders evaluate these customers&rsquo; credit worthiness and decide whether or not to advance credit? How do customers, in turn, convince lenders of their eligibility?</p> <p>Just the other day, Priya (name changed) approached us with a similar situation. She is a recent graduate who has been working with an IT company for the past year. She has no loans or credit cards and wants to take an auto loan but is unable to qualify for one because of her lack of previous credit history. At CreditMantri, we help customers like her overcome this problem by tapping new sources of credit information for mainstream lenders to use.</p> <p>There are four questions lenders typically look at when assessing the credit worthiness of individuals with little or no formal credit history:</p> <p>&ndash; Is the customer genuine (which can be verified through KYC documents);</p> <p>&ndash; Is he/she reachable (can be verified through the contact information provided);</p> <p>&ndash; Is the customer able to repay (this can be determined through salary and employment details and information on other assets and liabilities); and</p> <p>&ndash; Is the customer willing to repay? This last question is perhaps the most difficult to answer since lenders have no data on the customer&rsquo;s past repayment behaviour. They have to undertake time-consuming background checks on each customer and in the absence of data, might decide not to take the risk of lending at all. This could shut out millions of potentially eligible individuals from the credit system.</p> <p>To tackle this last question we, at CreditMantri, are turning to a digital equivalent of &lsquo;Open Sesame.&rsquo; This will enable customers like Priya to get a credit identity and, at the same time, allow lenders to get answers to the questions above.<br />How do we do this? Today, we can form a fairly accurate picture of a person&rsquo;s credit worthiness by tracking their footprint on a multitude of digital sources. For instance, Priya&rsquo;s phone can reveal GPS data that can establish her residence, or can be used to track SMS logs on her bank transactions. Her credit worthiness can be estimated by her activity on e-commerce and e&ndash;wallet sites. On social media, several LinkedIn connections from a single employer can be a strong indicator of employment data in the absence of a physical payslip.</p> <p>Of course, this digital profiling is done with the consent and cooperation of the customers, who might otherwise find themselves excluded from the formal credit system. And on the other side, combining data from all these sources and arriving at credit conclusions enables lenders to make informed credit decisions.</p> <p>It is very exciting to be part of this new credit frontier and the amazing possibilities of technology to fill in gaps in current methods of credit evaluation. These constantly evolving developments can only lead to happier results for both lenders and millions of credit-ready Indians &ndash; like Priya!</p> fresher’s experience in a startup<p><img class='center' src=''/></p><p>I work at CreditMantri and I joined around eight months back.</p> <p>A fresher I was!!&nbsp; Yeah! What else you could expect?&nbsp; Well, a hell a lot of energy and determination!</p> <p>It was a startup and initially it was a really small company with only 15 employees. Joining a startup was really challenging but all I wanted to do was &ldquo;LEARN&rdquo;. There may be few cons in joining a startup but the most promising part is &ldquo;you can always learn a lot of new things in a startup&rdquo;.</p> <p>It helps you mould yourself in the process of working. You get yourself to grow with the company. We had a product called CMOL which was getting to be launched, which was really challenging.</p> <p>Initially all the processes were manual and as a startup we had not much of man power at that time. Our promise to customers was that we would give the credit score within 2 working days. There were many gaps at first. We worked really hard to identify the gaps and then we solved it. Now we are issuing the credit score in under 3 hours!</p> <p>There were many back end process where if one batch was missed, it impacted the rest of the downstream processes.&nbsp; This was when I realized how difficult a product launch would be and how much of hard planning we should put in our heads to make it a grand success.</p> <p>There were many operational hiccups at first but I realised how the technical expertise can help overcome some of the toughest issues.</p> <p>A big learning was &ldquo;where there is proper planning, there will be a lesser struggle during implementation&rdquo;</p> <p>This was also a period when we generated a number of ideas, tested and junked some and implemented many. After all, employees are the eyes of an organization, aren&rsquo;t they?</p> <p>I also learnt how we can outsource some of the process that we thought were repetitive and we automated most of the processes which was done manually.</p> <p>I saw the company grow day by day. The number of customers grew up from 17,000 to 200000 and more. We started hiring more people. I saw 15 turning 80. YES !! We are 80 now.</p> <p>CreditMantri is now a big organization.</p> <p>Hoping to see many more successful changes hereon. Ciya soon!</p> SEO and poetry<p><img class='center' src=' SEO and poetry creditmantri.jpg'/></p><p>Hi, I am Dinesh Kumar AP, and I have been working with CreditMantri for the past year. Being a starry-eyed person, I always wanted to join a startup since I believed it would give me space for growth and allow me the freedom to explore new areas &ndash; which might not be possible in a large established company. I joined CreditMantri in its initial stages as an SEO expert and I look back now and feel overwhelmed to see what tremendous growth CreditMantri has seen in the past year.</p> <p>My interview round with Gowri, one of the Co-Founders, was pretty interesting. We had discussed the regular questions regarding marketing SEO, SEM tools, Google SEO strategies, Social media etc. When asked about my hobbies, I just told her: &ldquo;Words always fascinate me. They heal me when I am hurt, they motivate me when I am down and reward me when I succeed. My creative eye finds the best in every possible thing and when my words tell them, it takes the form of a Tamil poem; when my lens captures them it emerges as a portrait. I would be the right person for you, as I work more on creativity than on logic, unlike others.&rdquo; Maybe it was my passion or maybe sheer luck, because the very next day, I got my offer letter. Target accomplished! I was now an SEO expert and Digital Marketing Specialist for a young startup company!</p> <p>After the initial induction period, I started challenging myself to see how far I could reach. Within a year, I oversaw a five-fold increase in monthly visitors. I now have an ambitious target for the number of internal links on our website and I can see my dream slowly turning into reality. Nothing is as exciting as seeing your work bearing results in such tangible ways, and on such a scale &ndash; which is perhaps possible only in a startup.</p> <p>To be part of a growing company is fun and inspiring and to have actually contributed to my company&rsquo;s growth, however small the contribution, is even more motivating. I enjoy going to work at a place with transparent management, an awesome work culture and great people. I&rsquo;m sure we will grow even more in the days to come &ndash; all the best!</p>