The not so known name of the Start-up community; Bipin Preet Singh is the founder of one of the most upcoming brands – MobiKwik.
MobiKwik, simply put is one of India’s leading Mobile Wallet companies, that offers its users to use this virtual wallet to make any kind of payments be it online or offline, at any of its 50,000 (brick and mortar) or 20,000 (online) merchants, just like a physical wallet.
Some of their merchants include – Café Coffee Day, Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, PVR, eBay, Jabong, Snapdeal, ShopClues, HomeShop18, Naaptol, Pepperfry, Fashionara, MakeMyTrip, BookMyShow, etc.
Personally speaking; the Electrical Engineer from IIT-D, likes to call himself a sports fanatic and holds keen interest in playing and watching football. Additionally, he has also taken the initiative to become the lead trainer, motivator and content contributor in Janaagraha’s flagship training program called CAP – Citizen Awareness Program, in his early days.
The Day-Job Life!
Bipin began his career soon after he completed his engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 2002.
He started his first job as a Senior Design Engineer at Intel in the same year. In his 3 year stint at Intel, he was in-charge of handling the Whitefield project which was also known to be Intel’s first server micro-processor design, wherein he his tasks included developing comprehensive hardware design experience.
Job As a Training Facilitator
In 2006, Bipin decided to take a rather unusual leap in his career and joined Janaagraha as a Training Facilitator. For the next one year, he worked on to develop a program that was known to be India’s first citizen awareness program whose primary objective was to motivate the students and IT professionals in their youth to take part in the democratic process beyond just voting. During this stint he also got the opportunity to conduct a range of training sessions at places like Dell, NVIDIA and many more.
While he was at it, he had also joined NVIDIA as a Platform Architect in 2006 itself. Here, he got the opportunity to get the global exposure to work with architectural teams of media and communications processors from across the world, to work on some of the most complicated projects and showcase his talent.
Job As a SoC Architect
After working on the aforementioned projects for almost a year and a half, Bipin then moved to Freescale Semiconductor as a SoC Architect in mid-2007. To simply explain it, he worked on creating and analyzing performance models, developing new use cases and at the same time, proposing new features for Motorola Chipsets.
Now obviously most of what is mentioned above would be difficult for the layman to understand, but he played a very important role at the profiles he worked at, and these were some of the most important learning phases of his life.
But for an unknown reason in the last roughly two years, Bipin was beginning to feel impatient and restless when it came to his career. Like most of us highly-ambitious creatures, he too was beginning to feel that, his work was no more really challenging enough and a promotion to a higher position wouldn’t have mattered much to him as well.
One thing was clear in his head was that, he was meant for something big and better, so then the only two things left in his mind were either to go and pursue his MBA or start-up something of his own. But he took the latter option and began envisioning his entrepreneurial venture.
And that is where it all began!
The Entrepreneurial Journey!
Having that decided, he began with the first one of the most important and challenging tasks of finding a team which equally shared his dreams.
After speaking to a lot of people and after getting a lot of rejections, he one day stumbled upon an old flat mate of his from Bangalore, who immediately agreed to his idea, after which, he also got in Sunali Aggarwal from East Village to partner with them for user experience.
Now that he had it all – the business skills, the technical skills and usability in his bucket, he chipped in a seed capital of around Rs.8 lakhs from his own pocket, to begin the project. Most of the investment was spent on the main surrounding factors like infrastructure, website, payment options, office space, etc. And finally in 2009; founded MobiKwik!
So what exactly was their Business Model all about?
All they had was a noble intent to offer customers a solution to free themselves from the hassles they faced regularly when dealing with mobile operators or their services.
MobiKwik in simpler terms was a model created to ease the payment problems that were faced by online users every now-&-then in India.
MobiKwik was primarily founded with an aim to create an online store where all the needs of mobile owners can be satisfied, covering all three major verticals – Voice, Data and Applications.
All a user had to do was, add money once to MobiKwik wallet which later could be used multiple times across functions, services, and service providers to make payments. By this way, one could easily reduce the risk of exposing card details or bank account details at multiple merchants.
They initiated the model with voice services like prepaid recharge for all operators across India, data services (GPRS/3G top-ups) and plug n play mobile applications.
To make it even more accessible, they even launched an SMS-based recharge model on the available MobiKwik balance for the people who did not have internet service, along with a Kwikplan that leveraged one to an automatic recharge facility based on their budget every month.
Now the other thing they realised was that most of the mobile services used to function on a ‘push’ model basis that means the operator would push down the services to customers and then the customer would select what they want. But customers did not have the freedom to proactively go to look for their preference; hence, limited choices and lower quality services.
To counter that, what MobiKwik did was it brought in an altogether a new ‘pull’ model in the Indian telecom space, wherein one could recharge mobile, check out new plans or offers, find premium apps, all at www.mobikwik.com.
What helped them even more was their desire to give people exactly what they are lacking and want. With this approach in mind, within a month’s time they began to receive a good amount of traction.
The next obvious task for the company was to marketing. But just like every other start-up with a tight budget, they were forced to be very calculative on where they spent their money. Hence, word of mouth was one of the only marketing techniques they could opt for, apart from social media of course.
Since then, there has been no looking back for them and their growth has been tremendous.
The company broke even in 2013; and today with over 17 Million users and 50,000 merchants (retailers) and 20,000 merchants (online), One MobiKwik Systems Private Limited, the parent company of MobiKwik has gone on to become India’s leading Mobile Wallet company.
Its services now also include – mobile recharge, Postpaid bill payment, online DTH recharge, life insurance, electricity, landline and gas, etc. MobiKwik pockets a range of reputed brands as their esteemed clients including – Café Coffee Day, Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, TastyKhana, JustEat, PVR, eBay, Jabong, Snapdeal, ShopClues, etc.
Unlike most competitors or other Internet based companies, they are expanding from the virtual world to the brick and mortar outlets to increase coverage of its mobile wallet.
Around the same time in 2010, Bipin came across Upasana Taku who was an Engineer from the National Institute of Technology in Jalandhar and a Masters in Management Science from the Stanford University. Moving upwards on the ladder, Upasana had also worked at HSBC in San Diego, Paypal in San Jose, Drishtee – a social enterprise, and finally a social media firm, 2020 Social. But for some reason, she too didn’t feel content with what she was doing. That is when she was introduced to Bipin.
Upasana being considered as a start-up enabler, who aimed at simplifying online payments in India, seemed to be perfect match for MobiKwik. Hence, she was taken onboard as a director and partner at MobiKwik in February 2010.
Her focus at MobiKwik Wallet was to take their product to millions of retailers, bank partnerships, and talent acquisition. Here at MobiKwik, she noticed that slow-moving or failed payments were a huge problem for not just them but for the E-commerce sector as a whole.
Even after having a fast-paced humongous growth of e-commerce transactions in the country, slow-moving payment gateways were one of the biggest pain-points pulling back the sector altogether. Yes, there were many choices for these players such as Banks, CCAvenue, PayPal and EBS, but because these were big players, all of them had either high sign-up costs or inferior technology, or both.
Thus, in an attempt to bridge this gap, both Upasana and Bipin decided to take up the task, and began brainstorming for a solution.
Together, they chipped in Rs. 25 lakhs from their pockets, hired two people, started developing a more sophisticated and superior payment gateway and launched Zaakpay.com in September 2010.
In the early days, they used to work on the idea at Upasna’s apartment, which took about five months to execute. And by February 2011, they came out with their first prototype – Bankpay, and subsequently their first pilot was launched in May 2011.
But before they could move ahead any further, they were surrounded by regulatory challenges and legal problems because the RBI’s (Reserve Bank of India) rules on Electronic Clearing Services (ECS) did not recognise such an innovation as legal.
According to RBI, if one wants to make any kind of transaction on any ecommerce site, they have to give a mandate to the bank saying that, ZaakPay will facilitate my transactions, and the same process is repeated for every new site they plan to pay up at. But luckily, they had already prepared a plan B, which saved their day.
Zaakpay team had been working on another product called – Webpay, which just like many other payment gateways allowed e-commerce businesses to accept payments from its users via credit and debit cards. What was different here was that, with these old players one required a heavy paperwork, whereas with Zaakpay all a business had to do was fill-in a 15- 20 minute application online, and after being reviewed, they were free to go live the same day or at the most in a week’s time. Having said that, Webpay was officially launched in March 2012!
Zaakpay in simply is a payments company or payment gateway company which is based in New Delhi & Bangalore that aims and attempts to solve the payment related pain-points for the E-commerce sector in India.
Webpay, unlike its competitors charges merchants a monthly subscription fee of just Rs.500, along with a per-transaction fee of 3%.
And today, Zaakpay’s Webpay which had started with just five customers holds a range of clients including portals like DMAi, Deals-AndYou, KnowledgeBunch, Mobi-Kwik, etc. The company in its first year itself clocked a top line turnover of Rs.7 crores, are preparing to break even and are also eyeing a top line revenue of about Rs. 50-70 crores in the next fiscal year.
They have also come up with MPay – a Mobile Web (Browser based) payment solution which offers similar services but on mobile as well, in the form of an application wherein one does not have to open up a browser to make payments be it on Android or iOS.
Talking about their funding; apart from their personal investments MobiKwik & Zaakpay has raised a total of $30.3 Million so far, from investors like Tree Line Asia, American Express, Cisco Investments and Sequoia Capital.
In 2014, MobiKwik won the mBillionth Award South Asia in the category of Mobile Business.