Background of founders, journey behind this idea.
The idea to build OkCredit came from our own personal experience. We (the co-founders – Harsh Pokharna, Gaurav Kunwar, and Aditya Prasad) used to buy groceries on credit from a nearby store, but settling it was a tedious process. The problem lied in the way it was recorded – sometimes on the register, sometimes on loose scraps of paper, leading to a mismatch in their and shopkeeper’s accounts.
We realized that it was not just happening with us but several customers visiting the store. There was a clear opportunity to build something that would help, not just the shopkeepers with record-keeping but customers as well. And thus, was born OkCredit.
Harsh Pokharna, Gaurav Kunwar, and Aditya Prasad were batchmates at IIT Kanpur. Harsh is co-founder and CEO of the company, Gaurav is the CPO (Chief Product Officer), and Aditya is the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) at OkCredit.
What is the OkCredit? and its products
OkCredit is a mobile-based solution for small business owners and their customers. Our aim is to give a complete digital makeover to the traditional register book – ‘Bahi/Udhar Khata’ and make the daily bookkeeping task simpler and effective for millions of small businesses through a simple and easy-to-access mobile app.
OkCredit not just helps small businesses keep track of credit transactions – both payments and receivables but also sends timely reminders through an integrated reminder feature via WhatsApp and SMS thereby making it easier for merchants to collect and settle balance amounts quickly.
Once a merchant registers a transaction on the platform in a customer’s name, the customer is simultaneously informed through text or WhatsApp. The app allows merchants to send collection notifications to customers in case of delayed or missed payments and enables credit payments digitally across the country.
This app allows the end customer to view his/her outstanding balance with that merchant via a web page link that provides a monthly breakdown of credit purchases. This improves transparency in business transactions and facilitates a higher degree of trust among the participating individuals.
OkCredit application is an easy-to-use application and makes technology accessible to those who are coming on the internet for the first time. It is completely free to access and ensures 100% safety, data security, and accuracy, thereby enabling small merchants who have no prior experience in using an application to embrace digital business solutions.
We believe in the power of technology as being a catalyst of improved incomes and growth for small businesses in India. Our other products are OkStaff and OkShop. While OkShop helps SMBs create a digital storefront, OKStaff is a staff management app.
How AI & Data Analytics technologies help OkCredit.
OkCredit caters mainly to the B2B SMBs in the retail sector. Our customers are the big and small mom-and-pop stores and micro businesses. These businesses are spread across several categories- Kirana, apparel, medical stores, eateries, etc. And while the primary use case is for B2B, in many cases end consumers have also found our app to be quite useful. They use it to keep an account of the money lent across their relationships.
The main data asset of OkCredit is the commerce network (basically who does business with whom) and the activities (sale on credit, payment, reminders, etc) that happen over this network. A huge volume of both types of data is generated every day (~3M activity data points per day) on our platform. We use machine learning on this data to grow our user base (targeting business based on the network), allocate cashbacks, prevent payment frauds, understand more about our users (their demography, suppliers, customers, etc), inform product decisions, as well as create data powered features for the users like automatic collection reminders.
Explain more about the sectors OkCredit is helping.
OkCredit empowers small business owners such as small shops and neighborhood stores by digitizing their bookkeeping function via a simple and intuitive mobile application.
The OkCredit app gives the traditional register book – ‘Bahi Khata’ of SMBs a complete digital makeover making the daily bookkeeping task simple and effective for millions of small businesses. The app not only helps small businesses to keep track of their credit transactions – both payments and receivables but also sends timely reminders to customers making it easier for them to collect and settle balance amounts quickly through an integrated alert feature via WhatsApp and SMS.
Technology adoption has been virtually non-existent among small and micro businesses in India. This has led OkCredit to democratize technology so that even the smallest businesses can use it for their growth.
OkCredit has been able to percolate deep down the SMB ecosystem through innovations in product-led distribution. Our endeavour is to make technology accessible to those who are coming on the internet for the first time. With an intuitive application that is completely free to access, and ensures 100% safety, data security, and accuracy, OkCredit has enabled small merchants who had no prior experience in using a mobile application or any other software for that matter, to embrace digital business solutions.
OkCredit allows for the power of the internet and technology to be distributed evenly, wherein micro-businesses can come online and manage their credit and receivables through the app. Our efforts are already helping unorganized businesses to become part of the mainstream organized sector by digitizing their business and hence reducing their dependence on traditional large notebooks which are difficult to maintain. This is besides maintaining regular communication with customers thereby bringing an element of transparency in the business.
Our immediate goal is to empower SMBs so that they can be active participants in economic growth. We have solved a major problem for SMBs in terms of buying and selling on credit and are in the process of digitizing other workflows for them, to make their lives easier.
How pandemic impacted small businesses associated with Okcredit?
Small and medium businesses served as a pillar of support to the masses during the Covid pandemic. They, despite fear of getting infected, went above and beyond to not only ensure a regular supply of daily essentials to communities but also provided credit to distressed families who suffered financial crunch due to loss of livelihood.
These merchants, amid pandemic, faced the double whammy of stock unavailability post-lockdown and difficulty in sourcing supplies from company distributors due to liquidity crunch. At a time when demand was down, small businesses also had to bear the additional weight of outstanding credit on their books. This affected their cash flows and thereby income. This was evident in the alarming decline in the number of transactions by small businesses on the OkCredit platform.
Acknowledging the challenges faced by small businesses, we at OkCredit launched #UdharAbhiBaakiHai digital campaign to help small and medium businesses recover from a severe cash crunch. This digital campaign urges/encourages customers, both big and small, to clear their pending dues to help small businesses and shopkeepers’ tide over the financial crunch.
Early days struggle.
With over 60 million small merchants across India, SMBs is a large market. The fact that it is not homogenous makes catering to different SMB verticals using a simple product solution at scale challenging at times. Secondly, simplifying the product further for most of the market after penetrating the early adopters with our initial solution, is a delicate balance we need to maintain all the time.
Overall, the biggest challenge for the adoption of digital business tools including ours is not only trust and inertia but also breaking the chain of the traditional means of bookkeeping. Merchants have been using registers traditionally and are inclined to be overly conscious and even a little sceptical of software when it comes to finances.
People are creatures of habits hence we had to really convince them of this idea by demonstrating the efficiency and convenience of our app, and how it will solve their problems and help improve business. This has allowed us to attract many merchants to our platform.
Credit transactions (between small merchants and customers) are usually stronger in tier 2 and 3 towns as the customer-merchant relationships are strongest in small towns. But most of these transactions are still made in cash. This is a challenge for us. Also, the preference of suppliers to deal with small retailers in cash does not entail any incentive for merchants to make bulk purchases of stock using digital means. This is a big hindrance to the adoption of digital solutions by merchants.
Affordability is another key factor in the acceptance of digital business solutions among customers. Realizing this, we have decided to keep the app free. This has boosted the acceptance of OkCredit applications.
OkCredit has raised a total of $84.9 mn from marquee investors such as Tiger Global, Lightspeed Ventures, among others to date.
User base OkCredit achieved till now.
OkCredit is targeting over 50 million SMBs, who are exploring digital business solutions more than ever. We have registered over 800 million transactions on OkCredit’s platform in 2020 and that amounted to $40 billion worth of transactions capturing 0.5% of India’s GDP of $2.6 trillion in terms of the total value of transactions. We also added over 70 million new customers/merchants to the platform in 2020.
OkCredit currently has over 2.4 crore registered users on the platform of which 5.5 million customers are recording transactions on the platform. This includes over 100 types of businesses like Kirana store owners, mobile recharge shops, medical stores, and apparel amongst others across India. Also, 70% of the active merchants on the OkCredit platform record more than 10 transactions every day, and 15% of the active users on the platform are suppliers.
At OkCredit, we intend to create an ecosystem of digital solutions for small businesses to help them manage their business tasks such as digital bookkeeping, staff management besides creating an online presence to compete with more organized players.
We see the number of SMBs who will be interested in exploring digital solutions for business objectives going up significantly in the coming years. Hence, we have scaled up from a single product company to a multi-product company solving problems for different segments of the diverse SMB base.
As a company working to empower small businesses, we want to help small merchants at every stage of their business cycle by helping them grow their profits, by going online and integrating with the growing digital economy.
Towards this, we have already taken some steps in the form of launching OkShop and OkStaff by solving another set of pain points for some other types of businesses. Our intent will be to empower the underserved SMBs by democratizing access to technology and capital for them. We identify the unique value of network effects in this and have started pursuing that towards delivering more value to them.
We sincerely believe that increased investment in digital infrastructure development, smartphone penetration, and increased consumer spending will write the story of the growth of the segment in the coming decade. The fact that our digital solutions make key business tasks simpler, digitized, and secure will form the crux of increased demand for such solutions going forward.
We see Techieexpert as our partner in spreading awareness about the OkCredit Universe of applications which include OkCredit, OkStaff, and OkShop among technology enthusiasts, and sector focussed venture capital firms. We intend to highlight the technology edge of OkCredit which we use to solve the unique problems of small businesses in India and make life easier for merchants as well as end customers.