Pratyush Halen, CEO of Tapits Technologies, has a Bachelor’s in Computer Science. He started his career with Amdocs as a software designer. At Amdocs, his team won the Amdocs Innovation Contest for developing USSD based solutions for the rural sectors in India. This win fueled his desire to start his own venture and work in the direction of servicing the rural sector of India. In April of 2016, along with Anuraag Agarwal, he co-founded Tapits Technologies Pvt Ltd, a biometric-based payments application. Since then, Pratyush has come a long way in creating a suite of banking products and services while juggling the expectations of multiple Banks. As the team grew to 26+ members, the daunting responsibility of creating internal growth has played a major role in his profile.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Pratyush says:
The best time to raise funds is when you have proven your product with a few sets of customers, and you are all set to scale up. Bootstrapping is the best way until then. Also, find a good mentor experienced in your stream who can help you throughout. The way investors look at is how big this can be, is Market available, how large it is, growth opportunities, and team capability. We had met more than 30 investors and made many pitches to reach series A. I think if your product and team are right, all channels are the best channels. For us, a warm introduction from a friend worked best.
As being in the financial services industry, one mistake can make or break you. So do not take any shortcuts.
Read on to know more about Pratyush Halen and his journey.
Please tell me about your personal background, and What motivated you to get started with your company?
Pratyush Halen: I am a Computer Science Graduate and worked for a Telecommunication Software company for 2 years and then started this venture. I was working on developing USSD Based solutions for the rural segment in Africa. India also has similar challenges and thought to solve for India and started this venture.
What is your current main product, and can you share any previous product pivot story to the current product?
Pratyush Halen: Our current main product is biometric-based payments where a customer can pay for bare-pocket goods and services bare pockets i.e., without a card, cash, or wallets. We were the first in India to enable this solution on a large scale. We initially pivoted to our biometric database, but then we had access to India Stack, the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan bank account, Aadhaar Database, and Mobile), which helped us a lot. India has an excellent infrastructure for digitization.
How much money have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
Pratyush Halen: We have raised $3.8M so far. The last round was Series A round in March 2020, where we raised $3.5M.
How have you attracted users, and with what strategy have you grown your company from the start to now?
Pratyush Halen: We have always believed in making a profitable venture. So, we focused on making the unit economics positive since the start. We always try to look for the latent and stated user needs and then approached them with the solution. We started with B2B initially and now pivoting to B2C.
Which has been the best marketing software tool for the growth of your startup, and why?
Pratyush Halen: We did not use any specific marketing software tool. Google and LinkedIn are the best partners.
What do most startups get wrong about marketing in general?
Pratyush Halen: I think they spend too much on marketing without first checking the product-market fit. Startups should invest in pivoting, taking feedback, and then again pivoting with some users before starting to marketing on scale. Also, always think about from the customer perspective.
What were the internal decision processes in determining when to begin fund-raising, and what were the logistics for this? And how many investors have you met so far, and how did you meet these investors and which channels worked best for you?
Pratyush Halen: The best time to raise funds is when you have proven your product with a few sets of customers, and you are all set to scale up. Bootstrapping is the best way until then. Also, find a good mentor experienced in your stream who can help you throughout. The way investors look at is how big this can be, is Market available, how large it is, growth opportunities, and team capability. We had met more than 30 investors and made many pitches to reach series A. I think if your product and team are right, all channels are the best channels. For us, a warm introduction from a friend worked best.
What are the biggest challenges and obstacles that you have faced in the process of fund-raising? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Pratyush Halen: Understanding the Investor’s mindset was the biggest challenge. Then we were able to figure out that they all are interested in the big picture, does your product have the potential to serve millions, if yes then it works for them. Also, there are some focused investors in some segments, so you need to approach accordingly. I think we have to start over again, and we would put our story right.
What are your milestones for the next round? And what are your goals for the future?
Pratyush Halen: Our milestones are to launch a new product for B2C with few customers and then raise further for scaling up the B2C product. Our next goal to reach 20 million customers and 2 million daily active users for our platform.
How do you plan to expand globally?
Pratyush Halen: Currently, we have no plans. India is a very big and most potential market. There is a lot of gaps that need to be filled.
What are the most common mistakes companies make with global expansion?
Pratyush Halen: Frankly, I have no idea regarding this. But I think money is not the only solution to a problem, throwing only money at problems will not solve it.
How do you handle this COVID-19 outbreak situation for your company’s survival in the future?
Pratyush Halen: Being an essential service and banking activity, thankfully, we were not much affected. As a startup, we also had the infrastructure to work from home, and we were able to continue business efficiently.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company?
Pratyush Halen: I can share what they should be doing:
- Look for your CoFounder like you look for a spouse
- Have a complementary skill set with your cofounder
- Think Big problem and picture
- Never lose hope; keep continuing.
- Discuss your idea with many people and take their inputs. Don’t be shy about sharing your billion-dollar idea. People can steal your idea but not your vision.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Pratyush Halen: As being in the financial services industry, one mistake can make or break you. So do not take any shortcuts.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently to improve your life if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Pratyush Halen: I have wasted a lot of time early in my life. I should have utilized some towards reading and gaining more knowledge about diverse things. It opens your perspective.
You can follow Pratyush Halen here.
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