The Journey of building Razorpay

Watch Time: 42 minutes

 

In today's episode, we talk to Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar, the Co-founders of Razorpay, as well as Vikram Vaidyanathan, Managing Director at Matrix Partners India. This episode is primarily focused on the early part of the founder’s journey, we cover their fundraising process. Living together as founders...

 

In today's episode, we talk to Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar, the Co-founders of Razorpay, as well as Vikram Vaidyanathan, Managing Director at Matrix Partners India. This episode is primarily focused on the early part of the founder’s journey, we cover their fundraising process. Living together as founders and building an amazing product culture and much more.

Salonie:

Hi and welcome to Matrix Moments, this is Salonie and in todays episode we talk to Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar, the co-founders of Razorpay as well as Vikram Vaidyanathan, Managing Director at Matrix Partners India. Razorpay is India’s leading payment gateway and aims to revolutionize money management for online business. They cater to more than three hundred and fifty thousand merchants and process transactions worth approximately 5 billion dollars annually. This episode is primarily focused on the early part of the founders journey, we cover their fund raising process, which started off with Y Combinator, living together as founders and what that experience was like. Building out an amazing product culture, what they look for in a team when hiring. Long-term vision for the company and much more. Tune-in

Vikram:

Hi everyone. It's my pleasure to welcome you to this episode of the Matrix podcast. I'm very excited about this one, because it's personally very close to me. Welcome, Harshil and Shashank, the founders of Razorpay, which has become the top payment gateway in India. And in this podcast, we'll talk about a little bit about their journey and how they've built an amazing product culture at Razorpay. Welcome guys.

Harshil:

Thanks Vikram, thanks for inviting. This is definitely exciting.

Shashank:

Thanks for inviting us Vikram!

Vikram:

Let's talk a little bit about the early days and go down nostalgia lane a bit. I know both you guys met at IIT Roorkee. Very similar background with Shashank from Patna and Harshil from Jaipur. So sort of not the big city background. Connected as a computer science geeks and founded SDS labs. And I think the legacy SDS lab has might be bigger than Razorpay right now because of the number of entrepreneurs that have come out of SDS labs. So talk a little bit about the early days how you've met and that journey.

Harshil:

I remember I was in my first year of college, Shashank was a senior to me. He was in second year of college and I was not into computer science. Unfortunately, even though I was very deeply interested in programming and software, but as you know, I didn't secure the right rank, so had to mechanical result. And I was trying to see how can I get involved in computers, so I approached this group of people that used to assimilate in hobbies club, to discuss about software, and that’s where I met Shashank, who was a senior and I asked his guidance on how could we work together to create like a software and a tech platform, because even the computer science teaching that used to happen was very theoretical. So, Shashank asked me to come to his room the next day and said we'll chat more about it. I hoped that he was not going to rag me J. That’s when I visited him. And we spent a lot of time the next day in his room. Discussing just things, I have done in software, what all things he has done, what our mutual interests are etc. And that’s how we got to know each other.

Shashank:

I was in computer science and IIT is a very good place from a learning perspective, but one thing that is pretty clear after spending like one and half year in college, that the just the technical environment, or just this spirit of experimentation of building things, o doing something on your own and putting it out, that environment was actually lacking, right? And IIT Roorkee is one of the foremost colleges in the country and not having that just felt like, something just didn't fit well with us, I mean, honestly, I actually wasn't as focused on academics, Harshil still used to get really good marks but, I always wanted to build something, code something and build out an application, or something other than an application. And we didn't find that environment in the college. So we felt like, okay, I mean, how do we promote that, right? How do we change that aspect? And how do we create a more tech focused more computer focused culture in college. It'll definitely help us. We felt we can achieve; we can learn a lot more using that. And that will also, in some sense, change the college for the long-term. Like any college, there are a lot of stuff that always happens and the legacy that has continued for a long time, but beyond that, the technical aspect was something that we wanted to make an impact in.

Harshil:

So, we met with couple of other seniors from college, we found a group of likeminded people about 4-5 of us who got together and decided that we'll start a technical group that invites people who are enthusiastic about building software and just work on doing hobby projects around building software, doing programming. And the idea was to build something which could be used by people. So that's how we got started.

Vikram:

One of the things that I find interesting, about your story is two things, one you guys were thinking very long term, and I know that defines a where you guys are at Razorpay and  the second, talk a little bit about how and why SDS has a reputation that it's pretty hard to get it to even today and it will become harder and harder to get into SDS. So, was that something that you thought of because that's also the reputation with Razorpay, right? That the best engineers and best coders get in. So, how did you think about that and what is your thought process then?

Shashank:

We recruit from the first year in college. And most of the students come to college after cracking the JE. So a lot of them have a significantly higher opinion in terms of technical skills, not in terms of academic skills as to where most of them are. So, when we go for the tournament, we usually go for people who prioritize learning in some sense, right. And not just academic learning but learning by doing. And that's honestly, that's doesn’t come to most people naturally because that filter itself is something very difficult to crack  because you cannot fake it. And I think people get to know, understand why that filter is difficult and it's not something you can just honestly prepare for on day zero.

Harshil:

And we spent a lot of time in SDS labs to prepare that filter, like an exam paper or an interview process that could solve for that and iterating on that, during that time it helped us build similar stuff in Razorpay, that how should the interview process look like? So, it cannot be decoded as simply as, okay, If you want to crack Razorpay, you just need these five things and you can get in. It should be something that tests the innate ability of people to push them, to learn more things. A basic thing we always focused on is hunger, the hunger to grow, and those things are hard to fake. You can get those out in an interview process. If you design the interview process focusing on identifying these things, then you can find ways to ensure that it cannot be easily cracked.

Vikram:

So, talk a little bit about the hacker mentality and culture has sort of laid the foundation for some of the product culture that you guys have.

Harshil:

Yeah, so I was pretty interested in hacking.

Vikram:

Which one of you guys was a better hacker?

Shashank:

Definitely Harshil. He has a mind for these things.

Harshil:

So, I was very interested in hacking. As I said, I was not in computer science. I was not learning on theoretical knowledge; I was trying my ways on the non-theoretical things like hacking. Which was easier for me to get into. So, I used to spent a lot of nights just tinkering with websites, and did a lot of renowned things during college in that time for one of the things that we did I actually got fined, and was caught by dean I had to pay a 5000 rupee fine for, I had 20 months taken away from discipline, I think at that point, and of course, when you have something like that happen in college, then the notice goes to parents. The parents called up and said, we have sent you to IIT to study, what are you guys doing there? And things like that. So after that, I think that's when I decided to take a  call that, okay, I should find a way to channelize this skill into something else. So this happened around close to end the first year. And there was one positive aspect of it, because there was notice put up in the college that Harshil Mathur has been fined for hacking the institute website and that generated enough of a reputation for me in college. Like, that's how almost everyone knew me, that somebody in first year has hacked the institute website. But I think going forward from there I think one of the major focus areas became that, how do I channelize this into creating something more productive? Because hacking is fun and it's interesting, especially with people who like it. But at a certain point, you want to figure out how can you channelize in the right direction? otherwise the outcome cannot be very good.

Vikram:

It came out in our references and we said, we have to work with these guys, and by the way, my name was also on this college board. So, I was like iske saath toh kaam karna he hai. I know there's a story where, I think your first round, it's probably the hardest round that you ever had to raise. Because I think you had investors chasing you ever since. Talk about that first round and how hard it was to raise that first round and how you’ll actually raised it from a government body actually.

Harshil:

So when we were building this college community, we needed funding, we needed to set up a software development section, we needed to set up a lab, we needed to buy servers. So, we had to take money from the Dean of the college. And that is the hardest funding exercise we ever did, I think, all the future funding that we did from VC’s were much easier and simply because when you raise money from a central government college like IIT Roorkee, first you have to pitch to the Dean, you have to explain to him what you want to do. There is a committee that you have to get approval from and unlike VC money, it's not that, okay, the funding is approval, you get money in your account. Funding is approved on paper. Then when everything that you used that money for, you have to go through a separate process. So every server I had to buy I had to float an RSP, float a tender, get a bill, submit that then everything else would follow. Every rupee that you would utilize from that money had to go through a full deep process. And me and Shashank, I don't know how much time we spent in just filling up those files, carrying those files around to the Deans to get signatures, to the professor to get signatures. I think that is the hardest exercise not just in raising money, but in spending so much energy in spending money.

Shashank:

We wanted an Android phone for developing applications, but if you just say, we want an android phone, it's not going to get approved, Right? We had to put it forward as like, we want a GSM antenna for usability purpose.

Harshil:

We needed a TV in the lab so that we could present to people when we did lectures. But if you know, like central government bodies with the bureaucrats, they are, if you put the TV for an approval, it'll never get approved. So you had to put it like a presentation, a 42 inch presentation monitor for conducting lectures, we had to twist and play it in that way, otherwise if it goes through and somebody in the bureaucracy picks up that and looks at it and says ‘hey, why is somebody approving a TV, let it just get rejected, it has to fall through cycles’. So it was the first time to learn to get things through in your way, you just don't have to talk. It doesn't matter whether your spirit is right, you also have to present it in the right way, where people understand what you want to do.

Vikram:

That's a fantastic story.

Shashank:

We raised like almost, over a course of 2-3 years. We raised almost 50 lacks, from the admin.

Vikram:

I think you guys have made them proud. And I think that investment has definitely returned many folds. I know that journey from there went onto you guys going to YC and I think at YC you guys started living together and then you lived together ever since.  So clearly you guys don’t get enough of each other. So, talk about those early days of being away from home, being at YC and how that bonded you guys together and also how it sort of opened your eyes to what would be the vision for the company?

Harshil:

Right after college when we started working on Razorpay. We knew in early days we have to stay together because that's the only way to hustle. Shashank was in Microsoft in US, at that point of time I had left my job in Jaipur, my parents’ house and instead of moving to Bangalore. I just asked Shashank to leave his job and move to Jaipur itself. Initially he stayed at my house and we started building Razorpay from there. The next thing we got into YC, so we decided to go to US and we took a single one-bedroom apartment in US because we wanted to save cost, so we had to stay together to save cost as much as possible. I think that was the biggest reason we started but as we worked together we realized lot of advantages of us being together because hustling and working and late night chats, especially in the early times, like the amount of time you spend working is like considerably high. We used to work about 16 to 18 hours a day. And we would sleep at absolute random times because of another difficult problem was that the business has just started and the business was running out of India. And we also had our sessions in YC US. So we were in the worst time zone gap, because it is spending the mornings going into YC session, evenings going on customer calls late at night. So yeah, it was hard to find time to sleep, but I think that's what staying together helped because those times when you’re husting and everything, there's always hardships, there's always worries on whether it will go right it will not go right. And I think just having somebody along in that journey helps a lot to build the confidence.

Vikram:

So I know we met you guys while and I think the first conversation that Rajat had with you guys when you were in Jaipur and leaving for YC. And I remember him saying these guys are building this payment gateway, and we were very interested in investing in one at that point in time and, but these guys don't know anything about payment gateway. But then I remember having this conversation in the middle of YC and by then you'll had already got a product out. And I think by the end of YC I remember there was such a big rush to fund your round, and we just said yes, on a video like this, because things were moving so fast that we just said, first meeting, let's just say yes. And we just did it on video within a 24-hour period, and frankly we've been very privileged to be investors. So it's all worked out. Fantastic sort of first leg of that journey.

I think it moves into the next phase, the org and the culture that you created. I think initially I remember the org and culture was very collegial and hostel like, because you extended what you had in SDS labs into Razorpay. And a lot of the culture used to revolve around your house. I don't know how many people were living in your house at the same time, who use to work at Razorpay. So, talk a little bit about that and the DNA that it created, but I also want to talk about how you've been able to attract senior hires after that.

Shashank:

So I when he came out of SDS labs and started the company. I think we were fortunate because one of the toughest questions that I think early stage founders have to struggle with is how to hire your first employees. And how to hire your first team members and because of our network at SDS labs the kind of people we work with there, we recruited, we mentored, honestly, we've got the best of the lot. Right. And we got them to work with us from day one. And we already knew these guys. There was a lot of trust. There was a lot of the shared spirit that you want to do something awesome. And most of these guys who are with us even today, they didn’t work at any place. So, they didn't know, I'm the only one who worked at Microsoft for one-and-a-half-year, but no one else had corporate experience like this. So most of us didn't know like what exactly building and running the company means and we carried over what we knew. We knew what worked for us in SDS lab and we knew that worked really well for us in the past. So, we kind of carried that environment and the spirit that mattered for us was, what is the output that we are providing? what are we building for the customer? How can we get our product to be used by the customer that we are North star And we always kept revolving around moving forward towards to that North star and all the guys that we had were really good in whatever skillsets that was there, but we never worried about like, we need to have formal office, we need have to formal space in the house that we were living at that time. I think the max that we have probably was 11 people, we came out of that after like almost one year. And to be honest the first person that we hired after that, because we felt it should not become a boys club, was an HR person, because we also care deeply that we should ensure that the culture is set for the long term. And that also turned out to be a really good decision because as we got more people from outside later on, we were able to work through that.

What are the things that worked really well for us, what are the things that we value and that we want to look for as we hire outside folks and bring them into the organization and set the expectation that look, some of these things cannot be validated, right? Even in the early days, you always prioritize that you need to have a sense of at least, two things are really important. First that just having a very deep customer empathy and customer focus. Whatever we are building, whatever we are giving out, we are putting out, it should be impacting in a meaningful way, in a positive way, whether it's a sales person, whether it's an HR person or whether it’s a support person, we always cherish that quality. We always filter for it. And the second was a growth mindset, you want to work here because you want to grow fast. You want to create an impact. You have that hunger and the combination of these two qualities, at least in the early days for a very long time, all kinds of hires, worked wonders for us and we never compromised on that.

Harshil:

And just one thing I would want out of the early hires, in the early hires that we did, we didn't look for skillsets, we didn’t say we need a programmer, we need a web developer, we need a sales guy. We just hired for the basic DNA, we knew these people are smart, these people are hungry, and they connect well with us. We have worked with them. We know their work ethics is very strong. So let's just get these people on board and we'll figure out the roles. We knew these people, some of these were people we knew from SDS labs some of these were my friends, and we just started calling these guys saying, Hey, we are building something interesting, just got into YC. Why don’t you guys come over, we can build something big out of it. And I think that was the only focus and the roles and everything got figured out once they all came into this house, right? we still live in the same house. In the same house we use to have 11 people and some people sitting, sleeping on the bed, some sleeping on mattresses on the floor. But it’s like a whole hacker house at the point of time. We were just trying to build something out; nobody knew what roles they would do. Nobody knew what titles they carry. It was just something that figure out what you can do to make this a success. I think that that was our early focus completely. And after that as Shashank said, once we had a HR and you started giving these things structure, it doesn't feel like a boy’s club, it becomes more inclusive and you can add more people from outside.

Vikram:

I think there two fantastic learning there. One is actually hire for DNA and hire people who are sort of embody what you're looking for in yourself and not being afraid to do that, at the same time I love the learning about that can turn into a boys club and get supervision quickly in the form of an HR or anyone senior there. So, I think there will both big learnings for young founders. Transitioning to senior folks, And I know you guys, and very few other young entrepreneurs have been able to imbibe senior folks and you guys have done a fantastic job of getting people who have been there done that in other organizations. And frankly at banks and banks have a reputation of being very corporate and stuffy, but you've been able to transition them to a culture like this. What did it take? And what are some of the learnings on some of the highs that didn't work? And some of the highs that did work?

Harshil:

I think from day one we knew that there are certain things that we can solve from first principles approach, right? So like programming, product, all of those things, we didn't look to hire very senior folks, early on these things because we know that we could work from first principles approach and solve this. But there are definitely areas, and specifically things like banking, like sales, things like marketing, where experience matters, where people who have certain experience and bringing them in. And tell us how to approach these things. And that's where we decided we want to hire senior folks. First we had hired was when we were 12th or 13th hire, which is a pretty senior from a startup perspective where we decided to do that because we wanted to get somebody in banking because banking is a domain where experience matters and having those network matters. And I think there are two things, first is looking for the right person not everyone fits into a startup journey, not everyone who comes from corporate life, they are misfits here, you can identify them as misfits they couldn’t enjoy that life and they actually will suit better into a starter life. So, I think identifying that is first thing. People who fit very well into corporate life cycle, will probably not fit very well into a startup, because they're used to a certain type of environment.

Vikram:

What in your recruitment and sort of interview process helps you identify the mistakes?

Shashank:

I'll tell you a few things. And we did make quite a few mistakes on it. And we came to this relation data as to, to distill that process a little bit. of course, skillset is important, that’s what you are hiring for. But beyond that few thing that I think has helped us quite a bit over long-term, I would say one is just having humility, we always look for leaders who are humble and who are aggressive, that's one. Second I would say a transparency. So we look for leaders who believe in disseminating information and helping others learn instead of trying to hold that for yourself and use that as a leverage. That in some sense is an important one. And I think the third aspect will be, we like leaders who respects skills rather than just age. Who respect what the person in front is telling you? Because, I mean in some sense, we have been outside of the payment industry. So, we try to bring a lot of fresh ideas and we still hire a lot of people from outside the domain. We don’t restrict that you only need to have payment experience or even younger folks who come. They don't understand why things are being done certain way. So, we give the freedom to people to ask those questions, to question like, why this is being done that way. And that aspect of you are respecting someone's thought process and someone's skillset, instead of respecting someone levels. That is something of a mode a culture alignment for us and those things have worked well. And there are some filters also, just from an organization perspective. Like we don't have cabins at all, even at this scale either for me or Harshil, or for any of the senior leaders. None of us have cabins that is there. And we always prioritize like transparency in the organization, communication that is there. Some of these things are actually act as an automatic filter because some of the senior leaders are coming from that background. I mean, if they cannot accept some of these things, then it it's pretty clear for both the sides that, it's kind of not going to work out. So just a combination of these things that helped us a lot. And even this realization has been after a period of time. But I think what I would say is from the start, if you can build a template as to what kind of senior leader you want to hire, that'll probably help you prevent some mistakes that we did an initiative.

Harshil:

And just to add to that, I think what qualities Shashank described these are not norm in a corporate world, these are exception. You'll find a lot of corporate leaders who value experience a lot, who have that feeling in themselves that, we have achieved, and we know and just believe me because we know how it is done. I think that is something that is easily identified in the first interview itself. And most of these senior leaders that we spend a lot of time in the first interview and we'll just throw things at them, hey, we do not have cabins, You will not get the business class, just see the reactions on how they respond to these things. Because there are certain people who don't even give it a thought, it is so natural to me, it doesn't matter to me. I just want to grow and I just want to scale up. And those people are generally misfits in the corporate world. Those kinds of hires have worked best for us. It’s not that we have had all the right choices. There have been cases, you have hired somebody who was doing really well in corporate world. We brought into Razorpay, it didn’t work well, because they come from that certain kind of expectation around how things should be. And in a startup world, a lot of things are different. But the one thing that happens is if you have the right culture built in, it is something you notice even today, our culture is built very strongly around hunger, around certain thing that Shashank said around how people need to value others opinion. And it's built so well that if some misfit, even if you hire by mistake, system detects it very quickly the person will not be happy in this setup. So it's that we have to keep a constant check on this, the culture keeps a check on it.

Vikram:

When you look at strong culture rejects people who don't fit that culture quite quickly. I also think there's fantastic learnings on how to hire senior people. And I don't think anyone has quite articulated it the way you did Shashank, but to find people who are learners, who are not hierarchical and are recognizing skills in others. And then finally also coach others instead of being very directive. I think it's a unique combination. And if you can find it, that's probably the ideal senior hire at a startup. I also want to recognize and call out because culture is also cohesive and it’s a lot of small things that you do, I know that the Esops have already been monetized for more than 200 plus people. And I think very few companies have done that midway through the journey. And I think that reinforces the fact that this is not hierarchical, and everybody sort of owns the company. So kudos to you guys for having done that. I'm going to transition now to the product angle at Razorpay. And you have a very product centric culture as well. And that's actually what helped you beat everyone else. So first talk about that ethos and how hard it has been to preserve the ethos as you've gotten bigger.

Shashank:

At the start actually it was much easier, because we didn't know anything else other than to build a good product, right. And at least in the beginning it came very naturally because we always use to keep talking to customers, keep asking for their validation. That's whether you're using this product, whether you're using the feature. So that part was very ingrained very early on. I think the challenge for us happened a lot more as we scaled the organization. And as a number of engineers increase the number of product managers increase, as to how do we keep preserving that culture. Things that has worked well, probably I would till this state, there's a lot of encouragement on going and talking to customers. There's literally no way that you can survive in the organization. if you don't have that kind of customer empathy it gets called out very quickly. We call out that there's something is important for our customer. And that's why we should do it and not something else that is going on. Second just from a quarter to quarter perspective or month to month perspective now and again, I'm talking about as the organization has scaled, just tracking metrics very deeply, which are impacting customers is another very good proxy that we have found out. When we built teams, we build teams around customer problems and we built teams around solving for something which deeply impacts the customer. And we just keep measuring that metric every day, month, quarter. And this is the fundamental belief that you can improve on what you measure, right? So, it's the measuring something. And you know, that this is impacting the customer in a way, then over time, we keep on improving on it significantly. And those improvements over a period of weeks, months, years, add up to a significant advantage, such that, it's not so easy to just go back and he get it right. And, that has helped us very well. And beyond that, I think beyond the priority engineering, anyone in the organization for a long time, and we have followed this ethos that everyone should go and do support. And just handle support for some time and just see how, what kind of issues our customers are raising. That again, helps build a lot of empathy. The value of it cannot be understated.

Vikram:

It's amazing how many of the founders on this podcast have always mentioned customer centricity as a core to having a product culture and doing sort of customer service and customer support. It has been called out again and again, right. And starting from the Bansals at Flipkart, Nithin Kamath at Zerodha,  every single person says spent time on customer support listening to customer calls. And Harshil before you add. I also want to talk about the fact that you always kept product at the center of every decision. And I know banks are pushing you to do something else. Partners are pushing you to do something else. How difficult has it been to say, okay, you know what, this is what our product is. And we will say no to business or no, to a certain kind of partnership so that we can provide a better experience?

Harshil:

The early days in particular way. And its not just for products that we have already launched. But any new product that we launch, in early days its very easy to digress because there's some short-term opportunities. And you've tried to gobble that up. And because of that, the product a completely different direction then we thought out to be. And that is something that I think founders and a leadership team has to keep a very close check on or the way it can go wrong. I'll give you an example of early days. When we were building the payment gateway, right. And we started pitching to investors and other guys our focus was just to target SMEs, but when you're talking to investors, a lot of them will connect you to large companies in their portfolio, speak to these guys see if you can convert them, because that will give you a big jump in the volumes that you do. And of course, it's exciting. It seems very interesting. So we pitched probably be one of the largest eCommerce companies at that time, which I was introduces to. And they were interested, but early on we realized that they had a lot of demands. And if we decided to service them right now, then we will end up becoming their salve, because once you get them on board, we can't afford to lose them. And we will end up becoming a outsource shop for them, because we will keep building on things exactly what they asked us for. Because once you get them on board, our product direction will not be governed by us anymore, it will be governed by them. Because if they need this feature we have to build it, if they need that feature, we have to build it. Because you can’t afford to lose them once you get them on board. So we met these guys, we figured out that we could actually close them, but if we did actually close them the organization would take a completely different shape. And we took a call in saying, that we are not going to serve them right now, we told them very clearly that we are not ready for you guys. Once we have a certain scale, today those guys are our customers, but at that point we said that once you have a certain skill, we'll come back to you. But today we are not there, let us serve the small guys. And it was a hard decision. Because the investor who was closing around with us. But we told them that, Hey, It is not right for the company to take that call right now. We had similar approach on banks, but banks were still easier to handle. It's a lot more interesting that a large customer closes today, it will suddenly change you’re the place that you stand by orders of magnitude. And this is, I've talked to so many funders who fall into that trap that maybe you get this one guy and suddenly we'll be a hundred-million-dollar company. So why do we need to get these thousands small guys. I think I remember around that time, I had a conversation with you in one of the meetings and I was talking about this same confusion, and you explain this concept of an, Rabbit, Deer and Elephant, that if you get Elephants on board way too quickly, then you'll spend a lot of them getting them on board. And you'll not move very fast. You should focus on the Deer’s and Rabbits and focus more on Rabbits in the early days and then on Deers. But don't go to the Elephants right now. I think that it hit a chord as well in the direction that what we were thinking. So I think that that helped us. If we had taken that approach at that point of time, I don't think we would have where we are, because we would have gone to serve that one large customer, may be got 5 large customers but that's it, we couldn't build things that we have been able to build in the last couple of years, if we took that approach.

Vikram:

That actually fantastic learning on how to keep your own product, vision centric. And I do think that's a sort of core to the fact that we were payment outsiders at the beginning, and you were disrupting payments or the way payments or get being done at that point in time. And it's been a fantastic journey to watch you guys go from payment outsiders to financial services insiders. And I keep meeting Harshil, especially at these 5:00 - 6:00 AM morning flights because both of us are going to Mumbai at that point in time. And the only thing that is changed in this outside of the insider journey, that now he started wearing a blazer on those flights. Other than that had actually just been fantastic.

Harshil:

Actually I had to learn that to wear a blazer, because in the initial days we use to meet bankers, I would go to t-shirts and realize that they are not taking us seriously because when you go in t-shirts and you look like a couple of college guys, hey, what do you guys know. So to change the perception from outsiders to insiders, I had to start wearing them a blazer and a shirt and everything, something that I had never done in my college days.

But sometimes, as I said earlier, that perceptions matter to people. And while you are doing the right things and everything, sometimes just showing the processes that you are serious about it helps. So wearing a blazer, at least I could go to get a deal with a bank.

Vikram:

How do you guys deal with the flux noise in the FinTech ecosystem? And, you been through the wallets noise, then the UPI noise, then there is a FinTech lending noise and it just keeps coming. Right. And then there's now a reliance and then there's NeoBanks. But I've seen you guys stay very true to what your mission is. How hard has it been to stay focused? And I know we're going to talk about the future as well.

Harshil:

I think just one thing, well just start with that. I think one thing that he said in the start is when you define the vision, it is while it is important to find what you want to do. It is also very important to define what you don’t want to do. From very early days we were very clear that we want to build for businesses. We don't want to build for consumers, we don't want nobody for banks. We want to build for businesses and solve problems as much as we want to go online. Focus was to destress merchants just stayed on that track since day one. So when people said, Hey, why don't you guys build a wallet? we said, it doesn't solve merchants problem. Maybe solve some consumer problems, but it doesn't solve anything for the merchants. So we'll partner with wallets integrate them but we don't want to go into that. Similarly, when you UPI came around, we were the first ones to launch support for UPI acceptance for merchants. We were the first in the country to do that. But we never decided to build a UPI app because it doesn't target merchants. Similarly, in Neo banking, we decided to take the Neo banking approach. But again, targeting merchants to distress their banking approach. So, whenever a problem hit our merchants and we believe that something that can solve merchants life, like issues, that is something we wanted to pick up very quickly. But anything else that goes on the fringes that, Hey, you should launch a consumer product because you already have a merchants pay. It might be easier for you to get transaction on wallet, get transaction on UPI app, it dint make sense for us. Because while you could get short term traction on it, long term it doesn’t fit into our vision of solving for merchants. So, I think that defining very clearly on what you want to do and what you don't want to do helped us early on. And yeah, there's all sort of expressions, not just on even your own merchants sometime ask, why don't you guys have a consumer instrument, your banks would ask why don't you guys have that? We would have investors who would ask us that, hey, if you had a consumer angle, you would fund you more easily, we would have all of those pressures coming in, but knowing that what DNA the organization has and what DNA you're trying to build. And what is your core strength is really important? And I think that’s what we focused on.

Shansank:

I think that's taken a lot of effort to just say no to some of these things, right. And just saying that, let's be aligned to what we want to do and not get aligned to just a trend that are happening in the industry. I mean, we always want to take advantages of trends, that we can go back and solve for the customer issue what are the new stuff that we can solve for it? What are the new products that we can build? that that will stall longstanding challenges, but never jump on. The trends will keep on coming. Actually, that's one of the good things about the FinTech industry. There's always something exciting to look forward to, and there's something new happening every year. You always want to be in such an industry compared to where nothing happens, but even when everything is happening like that, you still need to take a step back. Look at what are we really driving towards? And let's be focused on that. And let's just keep learning with whatever is happening and take advantage of it at the right point. But let's not just do something just because everyone is kind of doing it.

Vikram:

Thank you so much for the time, it’s just been a fantastic conversation. And I know we can keep talking and going on. I want to call out a few things that are just so unique to this conversation. One is just a fantastic partnership. The two of you guys have built, I know that the two of you guys are still like next door to each other in the next room, I think it's just fantastic. The comradery and partnership you’ve built. Second customer as well as product focused. It's clear that it comes from the two of you guys and to be blinkered in that focus is just outstanding to see. The third is, I think you've made pretty complex strategic decisions, very simple because of that customer and product centricity. I know this is sort of just the beginning of the journey for you guys, given that I know how ambitious you guys are. It's been a privilege to be part of the early part of the journey and look forward to the rest of the journey with you guys. Also want to tell listeners, we will come up with another podcast, which is much more about the future at Razorpay, as well as the vision for future at FinTech. So stay tuned for that. Thanks so much you guys.

Harshil:

Thanks Vikram for inviting in, this was really fun.

Salonie:

Thanks for tuning in. for more Matrix moments episodes you can head to www.matrixpartners.in/blog You can also follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube for more updates.

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