A million aspirations transcend a person’s reality. What would you do when everything in life seems to fall apart after a ton of hard work? It’s the story of a person who knew tech was the future and wanted to make it accessible for all. Let’s take a look at what real-life struggles look like from the ace himself. In this episode of The Balls Of Steel Show, our host Sarthak Varshney gets in a conversation with Kumar Mayank, the founder of Zimyo.
WHAT BUSINESS ARE YOU RUNNING BECAUSE OF WHICH WE ARE GOING TO SAY THAT YOU HAVE THE BALLS OF STEEL?
The business I am doing is a multifaceted one. We call ourselves Fintech SaaS for small, medium enterprises and their employees. Basically, it’s a cloud-based solution we offer in the space of HR tech. Over which the financial tech part is, we offer payday loans, insurance and other financial solutions to the employees who are on the platform.
We are in the business of making credit available to this segment, which nobody was catering to. There is a more significant chunk in the country that even banks and other financial institutes don’t serve, i.e. SME employees. The company is not private limited or because the employee himself does not have that bigger salary. But this segment has a PF account, gets a paycheck and wants to live a life of dignity. We are the people who help him achieve his dreams.
TAKING THE CONVERSATION AHEAD KUMAR MAYANK WHAT HAS YOUR JOURNEY BEEN LIKE TILL NOW ?
The dream lies in my school days. I wanted to start something of my own. I wanted to learn a lot of skills in my way. In microfinance, I realized that there is a majority of the segment in a country where nobody is keen. However, the people in this segment need money to survive.
This was a thought which I had back in 2017. The industry is very capital intensive. Therefore I took a loan. It started with a crore worth of debt. I found a partner because I was not from the HR tech. My partner Ajay was from the industry who has to build a lot of techs. Our idea was to merge both the SaaS and Fintech. I came back to Gurgaon, and my partner quit his job.
We started building the product. It took us around a year. In October 2018, the product went live. We started handing it out completely free of cost. But that didn’t turn out exactly how we planned. We priced it up again from 2018 to 2020. One and a half years later, we now have around 200 companies and 32,000 employees using the platform. Every day is a story of its own.
WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET WHEN YOU DECIDED TO TAKE UP THIS JOURNEY TO START SOMETHING OF YOUR OWN ?
The journey is much easier when you have already done the tussle in your life. Way back in my college years, I knew that tech is going to be the future. I had this thought in my mind that I’ll have to learn tech so that I don’t miss any opportunity. By the time in 2017, when I actually took the plunge, my homework made half of the work easy. I believe that everyone should be doing it.
In addition to college classes, I used to have a GNIT course in the morning, tuition in the afternoon and CAT coaching in the evening. All these classes used to happen in different places, making me spend half my time on buses. I still remember hanging on the door latch of the bus, people stuffing in it with the scorching summer heat of Delhi.
We are talking about years of continuous effort. My work ethic has been consistent for the last ten years. When I was taking a plunge, it was apparent that I have done my homework. Again when you start, nothing can get you as prepared to actually from the startup trigger.
WHAT WAS THE EXPOSURE WHEN YOU CAME FROM BIHAR TO DELHI AND ALL THIS STARTED ? WHAT WAS THE FAMILY MINDSET ?
Where you start might not be in your hand; where you would want to end is always in your hand. My father might have a vision that I would want to educate my son with the best of education, and he would support you financially.
It was easy for me to take a typical job and be happy with it. But when you have your dream, you have to protect it. All the journey is incomparable to the place where I come from. People out there are not even dreaming about it. The vision I have was unheard of. I consult a lot of startup entrepreneurs out there to have this dream of expansion of tech accessible.
MOVING AHEAD IN CONVERSATION ABOUT YOUR STRATEGY WHEN YOU STARTED YOUR TECH-BASED BUSINESS WITH A CRORE OF DEBT, MAYANK TELL US ABOUT IT?
My confidence was on the next level when I did my startup. My six bosses offered to invest in my startup. Bank landed me only Rs 40 lakh loan. My friends gave me Rs 50-60 lakh money. That was a defining point. Everybody has capability and finances, and willingness is what comes out when you startup. Your team is essential and integral.
Apart from money and time, they give their youth to you to build your startup. There were days when we couldn’t pay months of salary, but the team didn’t quit on me. You rarely find good people in life. Having them and working with them is great.
I would want to work with the people I can see growing old with. Every morning you come to the office, and you feel good. Monday morning is like we are so happy to meet each other again.
GIVE US SOME INSIGHT ABOUT THE PRODUCT BUILDING YEAR ?
Initially, we started with two people me and Ajay. Right now, we are around 15 people. For the past duration, they have been in the company. Everyone is working at a stretch.
On the financial front, the journey was much difficult. By the time we lost our product, we had not washed away the debt we have taken.
The absence of financial support is very crippling to anyone. My team was very supportive. Ajay and I had very senior roles in our company. I had a company given a car. Taking that bus again in 2018 wasn’t easy. You can’t give up when you believe in your vision, and people are backing you.
Even when the whole world is against you, you have to stand on your feet and still pursue your dreams. We have to deal with numerous government regularities since we deal in HR space. It’s not very pleasing to deal with these government folks who are there to make your life difficult. Many of the things would be heart-wrenching.
You need, as the discussion says, The Balls Of Steel, to put everything behind you. Every night you come back all shattered and say to your self “may the better product/better person win.” That is all I think every day.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FEAR OF GETTING YOUR IDEAS STOLEN ?
You have to have a thought of abundance. The bigger you are, the more people try to copy you out. You are fighting your own battle.
Why will you go after someone? In Hindi, there is a line I say, “instead of erasing other person’s, line make your line bigger.” You have to tell yourself that I am going to make it happen. I am the guy, my team is the one, and my product will leave a mark in this universe. That’s what I have learned in my two years. This has helped me retain my sanity.
WHAT IS YOU TAKE ON HARDSHIPS FACED BY ENTREPRENEURS IN INDIAN MARKET AND DUE TO INDIAN GOVERNMENT ?
Indian clients are more frugal. This also gives you a scope to innovate. Any entrepreneur doing business in India deserves some medals and awards.
A considerable lot of bureaucracy, loopholes in legal compliance and the entire ecosystem are present. You can’t run away from all your problems. Some problems you have to face.
I always had an option to pursue other things, but entrepreneurship was my choice. My passion was to help out people and be financially free. I am in the business of selling dreams.
WHEN DID YOU MAKE YOUR FIRST SALE BEFORE LAUNCH OR AFTER LAUNCH ?
We had sales before the launch, but it was on the premier model. Therefore we were not making money as such. To survive, we did a lot of small services also. Only late March 2019 we started to charge for SaaS.
WHAT WAS THE FEELING WHEN YOUR PRODUCT CAME OUT AND MADE THE FIRST PROPER TRANSACTION ?
It was a 12 employee company not being able to use HRMS properly. Seeing that you would feel you have failed. There were sleepless nights. Unlike internal tech, it’s a frontal tech. Whatever you build will reflect on the front.
Today it’s elementary for us to cater to 1200 or even a 12000 employee company. In a year’s journey, imagine 12 people not using software to 12000 people easily using the software.
Every day is a plus. When it comes to tech, each day is a significant milestone. We trust the tech capabilities we have built, and it’s one of the top 10 SMB’s SaaS. We get international client requests. If you have made a good product, it will sell itself.
THIS CONVERSATION WITH KUMAR MAYANK IS GETTING INTERESTING BY EACH MINUTE PLEASE TELL WHAT IS THE BIGGEST FAILURE IN YOUR JOURNEY?
I don’t think we have failed anywhere in this journey till now. There are things I could have done better for sure, but there was no big failure. Making the SaaS free was a big setback.
By October 2018, we already exhausted our crore worth of funds, refunds we raised from angels. I should have started pricing it on day 0. It was only when I lost some of the people I couldn’t pay, I realized that a lot had been lost. We need to price it. That was the one thing.
HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN A PERSON LEAVES THE COMPANY ? HOW DO YOU DEEL WITH IT ?
If I put to overall attrition, we have lost 0% attrition. The people who left, I got them back when I had money. I love my team, and I would try to retain this team. Till now nobody has left. I feel it is never about the result, and it is only about the journey. It would be best if you had them on the journey, or else the journey wouldn’t matter.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE BUSINESS AHEAD ?
We are very aggressive as a company with our sales in a marketing funnel. The first is to invest heavily in marketing. We are looking to be a good marketing player in this phase. Even if Mayank or the marketing guy is not around, the funnel ensures that you get those 1000 leads. Supply is never going to be an issue.
You’ll have people who will take care of it. Business is what you need. Your demand has to be sorted. 2 years down the line from starting day 0, even if I stop coming to office, the business will survive perennial. We have partners, pipelines to ensure Zimyo get business every month on month. The more we make, the more we invest back on the funnel.
HOW IS YOUR FAMILY AND RELATIVES SUPPORT NOW WHEN YOU ARE SUCCEEDING IN YOUR BUSINESS ?
“Sharma Ji ka ladka” is you now. Everyone is saying that you have to look at Mayank and see how he is doing. The best thing is there’s a lot of entrepreneurship coming into my neighbourhood where I grew up. I am looking forward to building this ecosystem.
We have been mentored by one of the best people in the industry. The future looks great for the Indian startup ecosystem, and I want to contribute to it.
KUMAR MAYANK CAN YOU SHARE YOUR BUSINESS MANTRA IN THIS CONVERSATION?
I heard somewhere when Naveen Tiwari, founder of InMobi, said these lines. “Startup is like when you are in a boxing ring. Your hands are tied, and somebody is punching you very hard on the face.
You have to get up still until he tires you out”. This is a good quote. I want to say this to everyone that it’s not as easy as you think; just gear up for it. A lot of people are going to give up on you. Still, you have to get up every morning, not give up on your dreams, your belief and what you are building. That will change everything.
MOVING TOWARDS END OF THE CONVERSATION, KUMAR MAYANK TELL US IS THERE ANY INCIDENT THAT HAS STAYED WITH YOU FOREVER IN THIS JOURNEY ?
There was a time when we had financially crumpled. I haven’t paid for my team for some months of salary. We had half a million offer from an investor, but he begged even for some signs.
So I went to my team and mentioned the offer. I said we could survive, but I think that this is not the fund. I asked for their opinion. One of the team members told us that if we take this money today, we’ll be broken forever.
If the investor thinks we are capable, he will invest in our company without creating a fuss. Someone will invest, if not he. That incident was very defining for me.
What an inspiring story it was. In this conversation with Kumar Mayank, he enlightened us about the struggle and preparation before beginning a startup.
We hope that you gained something meaningful from this conversation with Kumar Mayank. To know more, keep listening to The Balls Of Steel Show anywhere, anytime on your favourite audio platform.