The world is moving towards the adoption of new and better technologies. Since the times of human civilization, we’ve invented technologies like accounting, credit, money, writing etc. that have revolutionized how our socio-economic systems work with each other. Today, humans increasingly collaborate over software and communicate how things should be done in the real world. When it comes to financial technologies, we’re finding better ways to manage and disburse credit, in order to strive towards financial inclusion as fast as possible.
A healthy credit system underpins the financial world. For instance, when people know they can improve their lives using easily available credit over favourable payment terms, they avail it. Fintech startups have worked to enlarge the credit pie in India using innovative ways, like easy disbursal and credit collection. However, a significant part of India still remains underbanked and lacks access to the financial system.
Today, at Bangalore Insider, we spoke to Mitesh Thakker, MissCallPay, India’s first voice-based payment fintech startup that runs on the UPI rails. UPI has been a gamechanger for the fintech ecosystem since it links bank accounts directly to verifiable mobile numbers. Below are the excerpts from our interaction with Mitesh L Thakker, Founder and CEO of MissCallPay.
Give a brief info about your startup?
MissCallPay is India’s first voice-based payment fintech startup running on UPI. Being a country of 117.6 cr wireless subscribers, India only has less than 20 cr users for UPI.
Further, with over 96 % of Indian villages (5.72 lakhs out of 5.97 lakhs villages have mobile /network connectivity with over 425 million (42.5 crores) using feature phones, MissCallPay aims to bring convenient solutions to tap into this very big untapped market of close to billion users in India.
With payment now being a possibility over feature phones, MissCallPay is the payment platform enabling India to go cashless thus making mobile payments simpler for the masses who are not tech savvy.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
The idea behind MissCallPay came around addressing one of the most concerning matters during January 2017. Post the demonetization phase, I was traveling to my Native village in the Kutch district of Gujarat. During my journey there, the chaos with people standing in serpentine queues outside ATM’s and banks was quite unsettling for me.
That specific incident ignited the thought behind finding a product or solution to solve the problem of people standing in queues. Following the incident, I attended the Vibrant Gujarat Summit a few days later and got a clarion call listening to the motivational speech of PM Modi. Following the series of events, I decided to venture into FinTech and realized the potential of financial inclusion for a payment solution that works without the internet. Following the idea, we worked on the product using awarded patents and thus MissCallPay was born.
Our solution addresses one of the primary concerns around payments in the country. MissCallPay is the payment platform enabling India to go cashless by eliminating the need for a smart phone or mobile app or internet for payments, making mobile payments simpler for the greater, not so tech savvy masses.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I belong to a humble, middle-class family hugely inspired by my father. Talking about my father, he used to be a street vendor on the busy streets of Bhuleshwar in Mumbai who also drove a taxi to make ends meet for the family. Interestingly, his hard work paid off as he now owns a textile business that employs 300+ people.
This Entrepreneurial rags to riches story of my father motivated me to dare to think big and never give up easily in life. His dedication and hard-work also drew my attention towards the hardships faced by migrant workers and the unprivileged in society.
Academically, I did my MBA graduation from SP Jain and product management training from Blackbolt Consulting USA. With over 21 years of experience and six patents to my credit until now, I’ve held expertise in marketing, selling, and building IT products in startup environments.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
It is headquartered in Bhuj-Kutch Gujarat and has business operations in Mumbai. Mumbai being a financial capital was the natural choice for the business operations.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
I am paranoid about managing growth, we have much larger opportunity to solve and need to build capability in terms of people & processes to manage, everything needs to be rightly orchestrated, though we have a great set of advisors & team on board, the magnanimous challenge ahead keeps me awake at night.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
While every product is unique and comes with its own USP, my idea of competitors would be cash, Tonetag and Gupshup. We are all different but we are all working towards creating a fintech product for all sections of society
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
When you are in the launching phase, balancing work & life is a little difficult. But we need to prioritize things and that’s how I’m spending time with my family as well.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
We are presently angel-funded and plan to raise Series A in the span of the next 6 months
What gets you excited about this company?
The fact that we’re working on an innovative solution which is the very first in the country makes me both fortunate and excited. Moreover, this solution removes the barrier between the digital literate and illiterate, making it another major driver which fuels my excitement for this startup.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
My work is hectic with meetings with different stakeholder,. which takes most of the time. Night time I work on replying to mails, discussing with my team members.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
I am the founder of the startup and have few advisors on board ; Raju Wadalkar (currently on Board with Hygge Energy and was the CTO for Tech Mahindra).