BharatPe CEO Suhail Sameer said the whole Ashneer Grover-BharatPe was a case of an employee going bonkers, which can happen in many companies, and that the company is taking steps to ensure such incidents do not repeat.
Speaking about the start-up’s culture, Sameer said that despite all the hullabaloo about the culture, the company’s attrition rates are one of the lowest in the industry. “Part of that was probably driven by the beauty of the business and the excitement around it. That continues to remain high since our business is growing month on month.”
In an interview with Moneycontrol, he said the company had to take a few steps to change a few things about how people perceive the organisation and how excited they are to come to work beyond the excitement of BharatPe as a company. “We started by announcing that every employee in our company will be part of the Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP), irrespective of designation.”
He said the company has also incorporated basic hygiene things like including wellness, gym memberships, changes in insurance coverage, etc. “These are small things to drive trust.”
On Changes in Company’s Culture
Sameer said parts of the changes were already in the works. But, every new leader comes in and builds their own vision of the company based on what is important to them. “Ashneer had a different view of this, and I am not saying what is right or what is wrong. You have to work towards your vision of the company.”
On Audits’ Outcome
On the outcome of the audits by Alvarez & Marsal and PwC, Sameer said, “It is not as controversial as everyone thought. I think whatever happened was basically an employee going slightly bonkers, which can happen to any company and happens in a lot of companies. We just took notice of the issue and solved it… There was no law broken.”
On asking how long will its founder and former managing director Ashneer Grover’s relationship as a shareholder continue, Sameer replied, “Always”.
On the Company’s IPO Plan
Regarding the IPO, the BharatPe CEO said public companies go through a different level of scrutiny and most start-ups scramble to put things in place in the past three months before the IPO. “We want to be proactive and so we are doing a few things for that. One, we want to strengthen our board, so we want to add more credible and independent board members. After the IPO, we need the board to have 50 per cent independent members, so we might as well move in that direction now,” he told Moneycontrol in the interview.
On Product Launches
He said the organisation’s focus is now shifting from launching two products every quarter to only two-three products a year. “But launching products that are really impactful for the consumer, help merchants and keep it narrow. We decided to not try to become a super app like some of our competitors but have three-four product offerings.”
Sameer said the company initially had a vision that merchants can pay the company for two things — if BharatPe gives them credits for using the app that they can use as working capital, and second if they get customers to their shops. ” We have lost track on the second one; we never launched it because we were always launching incremental small things.”
The BharatPe CEO added that the start-up wants to launch only two products in the next one year. “One is auto loans and secondly, we want to help merchants acquire customers.”
On Business Financials
Sameer said the company has had a good run and exited March at around USD 16 billion in annualised total payment values (TPVs) on the payment side. The company aims to double that to USD 30 billion in FY23. “Currently, we facilitate loans worth around Rs 700 crore a month. We want to take that to Rs 2,000 crore a month by next March.”
PostPe saw TPVs of USD 50 million in FY22, which makes the company the third-largest Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) player in the country after ‘Slice and Paytm Postpaid’. The company aims to increase it to USD 200 million by the end of the current financial year.
On UPI Business Model
He said UPI is a customer acquisition funnel. It’s a weird business, where no company makes any revenue and that is what we are fighting for. “Because the use cases for all apps are very different. Paytm is a bit in our space and a bit in the consumer space, so maybe I can call them competition. But others are not.”
Sameer said the company does not need funding. “I still do two calls a day with investors but these are more like relationship building calls. We are well capitalised. I have USD 400 million in the bank. My monthly burn is USD 4 million… And, this is the case today, as we scale the business, we will turn profitable. We want to go for the IPO with a profitable P&L (profit and loss).”