In August 2018, I had just started working in the venture investment arm of my family office Mehta Ventures with ace angel investor Sanjay Mehta. A fellow angel investor reached out to us with a startup that had rockstar founders. At BharatPe, they had created a QR Code which worked with any payments app. They attached services like analytics, and customer support to onboard merchants and make collecting digital payments through UPI easy for them.
We got on a short call with the founders Bhavik, Ashneer, and Shashvat to learn more about their business. I took a deeper dive into the deal, but wasn’t too excited about it due to a few reasons. I didn’t see digitisation of payments picking up in my environment — Mumbai. Even today, this city works very efficiently with cash for micro transactions. For the rest, there were cards. While UPI was good to have, it wasn’t a necessity in Mumbai.
The second was, I felt that this was a high burn business. They’d have to burn a lot to acquire and onboard merchants, I didn’t see a growth hack to this. A few months down, and in April, I hear they’ve already raised a $15.5 million Series A from Sequoia and BeeNext.
In August, they raised another $50 million for their Series B. BharatPe has currently amassed more than 1.5 million merchants on its platform and processes more than 21 million transactions a month. They’ve processed transactions totalling over $1 billion over the last year. Every kirana shop, retailer, dukaan I’ve been to in Bangalore has a BharatPe QR for payments available.
From my two mistaken assumptions, I have two learnings. India cannot be adequately represented by any one city. Don’t extrapolate India scale results from city scale results. And believe in a founder’s ability to execute over everything else. If the founders can execute, the company will grow. I keep these lessons close to my heart as I look to build the next rocketship with 100X.VC.