Five years ago, on the 23rd of Feb, we pushed out EarlySalary MVP with a belief that it would be a stepping stone for building a credit ecosystem that would power and upgrade our customers’ lives in a meaningful, tangible way. We were a small team that worked around the clock, spent sleepless nights fueling this vision of making credit accessible to all.
The thesis of EarlySalary was very straightforward. We knew that:
- Customers are often seeking a salary advance which no one was there to cater
- 99% of such customers pay back on time.
- The entire journey can be self-served on a mobile app without any human intervention which means customers’ experience has to be supreme.
With this in mind, in the first 180 days, more than 10,000 people experienced our product, and not just they liked the idea but came back with suggestions to help us improve. Of course, this helped motivate us to keep working harder. EarlySalary elevated itself into a full-fledged digital lending service with the capacity to manage few lac customers simultaneously, to borrow, repay and engage with.
The Journey to becoming a viable business model
As we persevered hard and transitioned to build a platform for solving the credit needs of our customers, personal loans were a logical extension to our portfolio. Of course, this was done without losing focus on our shorter tenure loans. From here on, the innovation flowed more fluidly than we had ever seen. We came up with credit to shop online, followed by us launching a direct partnership with corporates to offer credit to every employee – Blue, Grey, or White. The second phase for EarlySalary allowed it to grow to more than 100,000 active customers. But for us what really mattered was customer feedback and appreciation. And we strived hard to measure and perform on those metrics more than any other.
Gaining customer love
As we started our next sprint, the focus remained on being loved by our customers. To overperform on this metric, we ensured:
- Self-serve as a clear focus: customers should be able to do everything from borrow, to repay, to solve doubts, set-up repayments, increase limits or resolve issues digitally. We call this Uberization of lending as a business.
- The second was going beyond just giving money and becoming a part of our customers’ everyday life. We fueled it by adding a universal credit limit that could be utilized anytime and repaid anytime. It could also be used to shop or travel apart from withdrawing cash. This helped establish us as a recurring, significant part of our customers’ life instead of being a transactional service.
As we analyzed our data, we saw a lot of customers referred by existing users. That is what we wanted to achieve as a brand. We were not just assisting our customers with their credit needs but earned the position of a brand that they can recommend to others.
One Platform for all products
Our next pivot came when we expanded our vision to be a single platform for all lending needs of our customers, Hence, more choices of products to our customers.
As you can guess, every new product involves new risks, new innovation, a new product journey, and a new way of doing business. But credit (pun unintended!) goes to our Risk and Product teams who took up this challenge and built railroads to get a customer to borrow for any need and build the backbone for our checkout business and Salary Card business. Today, a customer is managed on a dynamic behavioral risk scorecard, which allows them to borrow longer tenure when they need to, finance their skill up-gradation needs or shop on EMIs when they want. This capability is now being harnessed by our partnership teams to build No Cost EMI for consumer products as we grow and cater to our 500,000 active customer base.
Sustainability as a business
Financial services start-ups have faced multiple challenges in the last 24 months. We have seen two NBFC crises & two banks collapse that led to immense capital shortages followed by extremely difficult times for everyone during the recent pandemic. It is why we must extend our gratitude to our teams that kept our heads down and focused on doing what’s right for customers. How you ask? By focusing on principles of automation and ensuring we stood strong as the business climate did a 180. The results have been more than satisfactory and give us an opportunity to thank every member of the EarlySalary family and every customer who used our services, enabling us to build a sustainable business today. Over the past 2 years, we have grown to process 10x the loans, and are one of the highest-rated FinTech apps in India. Most importantly, we see ourselves as a part of our customers’ life. And that was always the goal.
What is in store for our customers and EarlySalary family?
While we have achieved one of our early goals, the journey is of course, far from over. For our customers, we have a lot in the pipeline. We still seek a utopia where an even larger number of customers recommend us to their friends, family, and employers. We are working tirelessly to ensure we keep innovating to introduce new products and features that can service every credit need – from cards to Buy Now Pay Later, from salary advance to wedding loans. We want to make sure we are your first choice.
A message to our EarlySalary family – we need to go 10x on our current size in the next 24 months. This will only happen if we continue to do what we have always done – focus on making sure we are part of our customers’ lives, by enabling them with meaningful credit that serves as an upgrade.
Celebrating 5 Years of EarlySalary App
Akshay & Ashish