Manavjeet Singh, founder of Rubique and former head of retail banking at Yes Bank, wants to walk the last mile with the customer in helping them secure credit cards, consumer and SME loans. Founded in 2014, the company is backed by notable investors such as Kalaari, YourNest & Globvestor.
Online businesses, since they started seeing the light of day in mid-2000, have come a long way from being a mere marketplace to one that goes a step ahead in walking the last mile with a customer. A recent example of such a venture is Rubique, earlier known as bestdealfinance.
Founded by Manvajeet Singh in 2014, the company, instead of being only a financial aggregator, brings financial institutions and borrowers on one platform, to fulfil loan disbursements. To explain better, when a customer seeks loan, he/she either approaches a bank directly (which can be time consuming), visits a loan aggregator (who will bombard the borrower with information) or approaches DSAs, who only move applications. All these routes are time consuming and challenging, notwithstanding a bank’s own varied risk appetite which creates uncertainty in the process. “The challenge lies on both fronts. Even banks don’t find the right customer fit and the turnaround time is indefinite,” cites Singh. All these observations he made as he donned banking roles at Yes Bank, HDFC and SBI Mutual Fund. It was also these very gaps that led him to turn entrepreneur. “The goal with Rubique was to show that for every borrower there is a lender willing to lend,” he states.
Two years since founding, Rubique today has partnerships with over 60 financial institutions, and has processed 39,000 applications (since inception), across SME Loans, Credit Cards and Consumer Loans divisions.
While business is looking up for Singh today, the journey was no smooth ride.
The Early Days
Among the primary challenges Singh faced in 2014 was differentiating his business model from the existing ones. “We were clear that we wanted to solve a customer’s search for finances in a unique way, while bringing transparency into the process. That took time,” he recalls. But, once the model was in place, he and his team began approaching financial institutions and digitising their credit policies, while also integrating with their (FIs) systems. “The integrations were made to allow the customer to check their eligibility online by getting an in-principal approval. It would also reduce the time spent in application processing and bring more certainty to it,” explains Singh.
A second challenge they faced was in convincing banks to come on board, but once they proved that their model works, institutions began approaching them to be listed on the platform. “For any startup, getting an initial buy-in from customers/partners is always a challenge. The only way to tackle it is through patience. Results will speak,” he admits.
The third, as is the case with most startups, is hiring the right candidates. Singh calls it a Catch 22 situation. “We look for passionate people who can think beyond conventional job responsibilities,” he says. To ensure that, the startup holds cross-functional interviews to assess the thought-process of the candidate. “After working in a corporate setup for almost 25 years, the first thing I realised was to get rid of the structured way of approaching things. Startups need to have an open culture where teams should be encouraged to share ideas irrespective of their functions,” he shares. While finding talent was a challenge in the initial stage, he claims that attracting good candidates post funding was easier.
Although the startup, till date, has disbursed Rs. 443 crore in loans and completed 12,300 credit card setups, its marketing investments still play low key. “We want to get more FIs onto our platform, offer more choices to customers, before taking an aggressive route to marketing our product,” opines Singh.
After working in a corporate setup for almost 25 years, the first thing i realised was to get rid of the structured way of approaching things. Startups need to have an open culture where teams should be encouraged to share ideas irrespective of their functions.
Bringing in the bucks
In October 2015, the startup raised its first round of funding, to the tune of US $3 million from Kalaari, YourNest Angel Fund, Globvestor and Dexter Angel Circle. It is in talks to raise around US $10 million to US $15 million in a pre-Series B round by end of 2016. “There is no right pitch when it comes to seeking external investments. When raising our first round, we found it difficult to convince investors about our business idea,” shares Singh. But, what, he believes; works is having conviction about your business idea and relentlessly pursuing what you want. “More recently, because of our unique proposition, we have been getting in-bound interest,” he states.
Rubique works on a model where it doesn’t charge the customer. Instead, it takes a fee from financial institutions by way of facilitating their loan products to customers.
With a team of 69 employees on board, Rubique currently operates in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune, Kolkata and Hyderabad and has clocked revenues of Rs. 8 crore since founding (since beginning of FY17, it claims to record revenues of over Rs. 1.5 crore every month).
In the coming months, the goal for Singh and his team is to expand to four more cities and strengthen its presence in all 10 cities, and invest in improving its backend technology.
When asked about Singh’s long term vision, he notes, “We want to become the largest online marketplace for loans in near future and one of the few players handling the landscape of Indian lending space.”
Founder: Manvajeet Singh
Concept: Brings financial institutions and borrowers on one platform, to fulfil loan disbursements.
Investors: Kalaari, YourNest Angel Fund, Globvestor and Dexter Angel Circle