Udupi, a city in the southwest province of Karnataka witnessed Anup Pai beginning his life. Though he was from the Pai community which was known for its banking skills, he chose to pursue a different career, namely Mechanical Engineering in the National Institute of Technology in Surathkal. But he wouldn’t have known, that 10 years later destiny would lead him to co-find Fintellix, one of India’s pioneering fintech companies.
“I was ready to do something of my own” were his words after 10 years of working with the banking industries and technologies of the world. It was during this time, in 2006, that he along with NarenSanthanam launched ‘ iCreateSoftwares’ which would collect data from banks and maintain a single interface for analysing the data. Anup says, “The name was a product of our creative instincts. Our firm is about an individual’s constant attempt to create and excel in whatever he/she does. “They catered services from 2006 to 2009 which gave an impetus to their product-building activities.
After graduating from NIT, he worked with ANZ Bank as a software engineer where he had to create technology for L.G. Petro Bank in Poland in 1998 when the banking industry was undergoing a technological revolution known as the ‘Core Banking Wave.’ His work saw the rise of the bank from the 16th position to the 16th in the country with a noteworthy change in its client profiles. Anup was called by a friend in Australia seeking help in setting up a partnership with Tata Consultancy Services, in 2001. Reveals Anup, “In 2002, I travelled to Mumbai where I imparted training to over 500 TCS employees and 100 SBI bankers on how to convert distributed banking processes to match the core banking environment and handle applications.
Anup states, “To mould your ideas you have to reach out to your customers for feedback. Later, these same customers may turn investors, as it transpired for us in 2009.” He strongly believes that investors help sustain the business because they provide monetary freedom and direct attention to product development plans. The company was looking to raise investments (Series A) from IDG Ventures, the primary reason being their involvement with Manthan Systems, a firm operating like iCreate, although it was two years ahead of them. Ultimately, in 2010, iCreate could raise Rs 15 Cr from IDG Ventures and Rs 50 Cr from Sequoia Capital and IDG Ventures in 2012.
Thanking their investors, Anup says, “While IDG Ventures has been responsible for our evolution from a services company to a product-oriented one, Seqouia Capital has given us valuable opportunities as they invested in us because of their faith in our business ethics and the profit we were earning. They also gave us some insights, one of them being, ” If you want to be a products’ company, you have to ‘Build and Sell’ and not, ‘Sell and Build.’ Before the need arises in the market, your product should be ready.” This led to the re-branding and eventual transformation of iCreate from ‘Sell and Build’ to ‘Build and Sell.’
On iCreate becoming ‘Fintellix’ officially in December 2014, he states, “When you aim to go global you need consistency in your brand. It was inevitable.”
As a company and brand of its own, Fintellix helps banks leverage their data to fit their compliance needs, be a stronger bank which can take and face risks, be profitable and analytical.
Fintellix has advanced with an IPR>50% since they have raised Series A. Their strength and clients have doubled phenomenally with 35 banks across the globe working with them. Anup reveals, “Mature and highly acclaimed global banks like BoA, Citibank, BNP Paribas, ICICI and HDFC appreciate our products. Our energies are targeted at engaging with these banks. We are keen to move into the next level.”
He suggests being a pioneer in a particular field is extremely important which is applicable to the Fintech industry. He opines that being broad-minded and welcoming change brought about by technology, regulations and consumer behavior with open arms is essential. “We are building our products to embrace this change. It is coming because there is so much money to manage thanks to the exploding financial world.”
He shares these wise statements for people starting their businesses based on the lessons learnt from his journey:
- Chalk out your journey, at least in theory in accordance with what you expect.
- Define the identity which will be with you throughout, spend some time with it. It shouldn’t be an impulsive decision.
- Any business will be a success if it is built on an in-depth understanding of the target market. Do your research well.
He talks about his drive, “It is the ‘keeda‘ (entrepreneurship bug). It is this inherent trait, the curiosity to know what might happen if your take this step.”