Learnings from experienced founders

Avnish Bajaj
FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR
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Anurag Sinha, co-founder & CEO of OneCard shares advice on the key choices he made while building OneCard - important decisions related to choice of domain, market risk, profit pools, GTM, followership and much more.

Tune in to find out.

Avnish:

So Anurag is the founder of OneCard. This concept of experienced founders. And Anurag kind of defines it. And I’m going to quiz Anurag on one – two of these things. But first of all, building in domain, you’ve been in credit cards for the longest period of time, did you consider other domains or was it...

Anurag:

So, we did consider others but the opportunity here was too compelling, so we said probably we said let’s focus on that, but we did broad baseour market definition, rather than saying, we should define our problems as a consumption credit rather than just a credit card product.

Avnish:

I think for the audience, for me and Anurag- you and me have spoken about this a few times, start-ups are destined to fail, sadly. So as a founder one’s job is to stack odds in one’s favour. And for me working in one’s domain, ultimately, it’s a game of known and unknown, and the unknown shrink & don’t surprise you, so no surprises.

The second thing I remember chatting with you, is I’m not going to take market risk. And relatedly you were chasing very deep profit pools of credit cards. Where did this thinking, did you work in segments where you struggle to get into a deep market, how was it that I’m not going to take market risk and profit toh hona chaiye.

Anurag:

So, slightly cliched answer, if you want to build a long-term company you have to go after a large profit pool. I think one we all agree, India is full of talented teams. And technology is making things even more easier. I think developing solution is becoming easier and easier.

So, idea is that, if you are going after with lots of talented team after the pools, the pool has to be large enough for us to share. So, that’s what drove us, the second thing is, specially which is relevant for our category, the penetration is so low, you've got to plan big. Thers no price for being small player in financial services, it’s as simple as that.

Avnish:

And relatedly, when you go after the large markets, the other thing I find unique about you and other experienced founders is they don’t talk about PMF, they talk about GTM. So, it sounds like deep market mein karari ho toh PMF toh aa he jaiga, right? Is that the logic?

Anurag:

Absolutely, see India is so layered, at every level there is a large market. Even if you talk about let's day our GDP per capita is two and half thousand dollars. Depending on which number you believe in, even if you add the black portion of the economy.

It’s around close to, two and a half to three thousand dollars. The point is, is within that if you spilt it, you gonna like 50 to 100 million people who are like nine thousand, ten thousand GDP per capita. It’s like the Chinese market. So, the product market fit will happen at certain segments butthe ideais that at what GTM at what cost, you know because that’s when the scale will happen.

I’ve listened to some of yourpodcastwhere you talked about PMF,Scalable PMF, Profitable PMF. What I’m trying to say is that GTM solves these two things at one point, this is a tool to solve for that. And the earlier you think about the go-to-market in India, it’s much better.

Avnish:

I’m so grateful that someone like him listens to ourpodcastbut actually you know taking another cut at this, one other thought I have on this is, if you look at markets which are deep and wide. Financial services are markets which are deep and wide. Consumer brands are a market which is deep and wide.

So, if you are able to own a slice of the customer, it’s a very valuable company. The slice of a customer is GTM, why would that customer come to you?

Anurag:

There is a sequence also here, you first go deep and then go wide. GTM actually helps us do that. We also came from large organizations, where we had the luxury of the distribution channels, so we all were over-obsessed about it.

To build scale you have to think of distribution on day zero, just to give you things in context, two thousand crores, three thousand crores personal loan is nothing if you compare it to banks.

So while for fintech this could be a large number, so we have to say that forget about it today, probably doing five hundred crores, will we ever do five thousand crores, will we ever do ten thousand crores, how will you compete against the large distribution setups.

Avnish:

And now we are doing sixteen thousand crores run rate.

Anurag:

That’s why the GTM was so important for us.

Avnish:

Next one we covered in ourOneCard’s company building journeyis followership, so you started with two people you knew forever but that has continued, right? And in your view it's very important in building for scale. So, say more about this.

Anurag:

So, I think two concepts to talk about here is, a huge belief in reference hiring. I don’t think one-hour two-hour of interviews can-do justice on either side.They expect and understanding about us as well, it is very rare. And specially if you are building a long-term company. But I would say the second important piece is an alignment of goals.

Slightly different thought, I mean capabilities can be built, but alignment is not. Alignment is extremely important. So, if people have worked with you, know you. either directly or indirectly, it’s easier to get that, capabilities will get built, it’s not a big deal.

Avnish:

Then comes to, we actually call it, independently wealthy but I remember asking you what your market value was at that time. I don’t know if I’ve told you this, this was a test. I knew your market value was a few crores, in terms of, if you went to take up a job. And I had looked at the spreadsheet that you had sent of how much salary you guys were paying yourselves. It was like one lakh a month or something like that and to me, how did you think about this trade off, I mean your market was 3-4-5 crore and you want to start a business with 12 lakhs.

Anurag:

I think what consumed us was the size of the opportunity. We knew that this is going to change, we didn't care. To a certain extent we’ve spent quite a good amount of time in large companies, so we are fairly well settled but the idea was to challenge ourselves because we were consumed by the larger opportunity out there that we were solving for. And since these things didn't matter.

Avnish:

And you sold the shares you were holding to buy more in your own company.

Anurag:

Absolutely, touchwood, my alma mater stocks are continuing to grow big time. I continue to hold good stock there, but idea was that I was more sure about this performance because I was driving it more directly.

Avnish:

Last one, which is - playing the long game. So, not going to sell the company, what’s the goal?

Anurag:

Absolutely not. I think the opportunity is so large the company has to outlast us if you ask me.

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Avnish Bajaj
FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR