Bookmyforex.com has a slew of offerings related to foreign exchange, aimed at making travelling abroad easy for Indians.
“When you are travelling, right from booking rooms to hiring a porter, you could order online. But the currency that you need to pay for all this – you cannot!”Sudarshan Motwani, currently, the founder and CEO of BookMyForex.com, was struck by this irony, that led him to take the entrepreneurial plunge.
Of course, Motwani was an expert in foreign exchange processes; After all he was head of foreign exchange at ING Vysya Bank and prior to that led the practice at HDFC. His son, Nitin Motwani, had an entrepreneurial bent of mind and urged his father to turn to business, and thus the father-son duo launched BookMyForex.
A Step at a Time
In the first year, the bootstrapped company had an exclusive arrangement with Axis bank to create a flow on bookmyforex.com to make buying forex easy online. A customer could create a self-declaration and make the payment, which would be reflected in the treasury. But as it was bootstrapped, the solution could not be scaled.
From 2014 onwards, the company started offering a wider range of services such as buying and selling forex, making remittances, travelers’ cheque – anything to do with making currency available during travels abroad.
Initially, the services were semi-automatic with BPOs roped in to take care of the rest of the flow. But now, it is fully automated and has registered Rs. 500 crore worth of transactions this year. It has 50 banks as channel partners in 5000 locations across 650 cities. In 185 cities, it offers offer door-to-door delivery through its 50 channel partners.
In February 2016, BookMyForex raised US $2 million from Aditya Parekh-led Faering Capital. It is now gearing up to raise a Series-B.
External Capital, the key
Bookmyforex.com had the first mover advantage, but also the disadvantage of not having any precedents to benchmark it against. As a result, getting funding became challenging. The first break came when the promoter of a private bank where Motwani had worked invested half a million dollars in the venture. In February 2016, they received US $2 million from Aditya Parekh-led Faering Capital. It is now preparing for a Series B, and is positive, as many have expressed interest in investing already. Its positive unit economics with 85 per cent lead-to-conversion rate also works in its favour.
Offerings and Reach
“For the first two years, we did not have any competition. Then many came and went. Now most money changers are online but are struggling because of differential rates between their stores and the web,” explains Motwani.
As must be the case of any digital venture, Bookmyforex.com has put a lot of focus on building good underlying technology and digital marketing processes. In terms of turnover, the company clocks Rs. 16 crore month on month and expects to touch Rs. 100 crore by May. While initially recruitment was a challenge, now many are eager to join and the company has very little attrition, says the founder.
“We have delivered on our promise to customers, and that is why our greatest marketing tool has been word of mouth,” adds Motwani.
Funded: Angel Investor, Faering Capital
Focus: Digital Platform to convert foreign exchange