This Startup Creates a Platform to Connect SMEs to Financial Institutions Like NBFCs and Banks for Funding Based on the Transaction Data Generated by SMEs

We are publishing an interview of Mr. Ashwani Rathore, CEO & Co-founder, SpiderG.SpiderG Logo

What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Every Startup gets formed by seeing the problems faced by Society or businesses. The parent company Gladiris Technology started in December 2013 and was selling open source Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to Small and Medium Businesses to help the businesses. However, after implementation ERP in over a dozen companies, it was identified that there are certain problems that are still left unaddressed.

Me and my co-founder realized that key issues faced by SMEs cannot be solved only through ERP software alone and after deep research of 6 months; SpiderG was incepted in early 2015 to solve the problems faced by SMEs about working capital mismanagement & crunch, which arises due to mismanaged accounts (not -keeping proper financial records) and difficult access to easy and fast finance. Many banks and current financial institutions overlook SMEs requirement of collateral free loans.

SpiderG is a platform to connect SMEs to financial institutions like NBFCs and Banks for funding based on the transaction data generated by SMEs on SpiderG platform. SpiderG is a visibility solution tailor made for working capital management in small and medium enterprises. It acts as an easy book-keeping tool and provides SMEs real time visibility of all the current transactions with their customers and vendors.

Please tell us about the founders
We are 2 founders. The idea of SpiderG, an e-invoicing technology provider for SMEs was born in early 2015, out of the need to solve problems of Indian SMEs related to their working capital management and giving them access to easy and fast collateral free loans.

This start-up was founded by 2 youngsters – Ashwani Rathore and Harshal Ingale with the common aim of bringing about a change in the way big or small organizations conduct business with each other.

  • Ashwani Rathore is B.Tech from National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Allahabad and MBA in Finance from Asian Institute of Management, Manila. Ashwani Rathore, CEO and Co-Founder, SpiderG
  • Harshal is an Electronics Engineer from VIT Pune University, and was in 2nd year of engineering, where he researched in VLSI microprocessor designs that produced one of the few working asynchronous microprocessors in the world. 5 patents are in process for the work done. Harshal Ingale, Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer (CTO), SpiderG

Give us a brief background of what founders were doing before starting the venture.

  • Ashwani Rathore, CEO & Co-Founder, SpiderG: Ashwani started his career in 2005. He worked with IT major Cognizant, and then a product company Talentica Software. It was there that he got tempted to the prospect of being in absolute control of his life. In 2007, this idea came into reality and “Moms Kitchen”, a food e-commerce and aggregator venture got formed. He successfully ran it for three years and sold it off before starting with SpiderG.
  • Harshal Ingalre: CTO & Co-Founder, SpiderG: Prior to SpiderG as a Co-Founder, he started Abstracte Technologies, a semiconductor startup focused on research and commercialization of advanced VLSI design techniques. With over 9 years of experience in software and design techniques, a large part of his experience is involved in identifying and providing unique technologies for the SME’s.

List all the names of the core team members, along with their skill-sets, specific domain expertise & designated roles. How do you see them evolving over time?

  • Dolly Arora – NIT Allahabad Alumni and currently a Senior Programmer at SpiderG. She handles Android related development. She is an excellent manager and would manage all technical developments at SpiderG. Earlier she used worked with Samsung technologies.
  • Tarun Singh – IIT -BHU post graduate and is currently AVP at SpiderG. He handles all backend development, new feature research and development. He also handles training and development of new resources at SpiderG. Earlier he used to work with Samsung technologies.
  • Prasanna Paranjape – B.E electronics and he handles web development. He is also involved in new technology research particularly in field of Blockchain and Network effect. He is perfect candidate to Handle Research and Development at SpiderG
  • Dipak Seal – He is design head at SpiderG and handles all creative development, UI/UX research and development. He is fine art Graduate and earlier used to work in Gaming development department of Nazara technologies and India Games.
  • Eric Fonseca – A computer science graduate, he handles Quality assurance at SpiderG. He also handles customer relationship team to manage customers.

Team SpiderG with Ashwani Rathore, CEO & Co-Founder & Harshal Ingale, CTO & Co-Founder (3rd and 4th from left)

What challenges did you face when you were starting out?
We both founders had a major disagreement in deciding how to position SpiderG. We were not very sure on how we would want our customers to perceive this product as. Since this is a novel concept and SME customers haven’t used anything like SpiderG so how to establish a bond between product and its customer. Indian SMEs market is perceived as laggard in tech adoption so how would we make them adopt SpiderG. All three of us have different background; exposure and experience and thus each of us were having our own biases so we were not able to develop consensus. We decided to take the problem head-on and entire team discussed out the issues for 5 continuous days with facts and figures.

How did you get the initial capital? What returns does it have? Tell us about the investors (if any)
It’s a multi-billion opportunity in b2b SME space and we are rightly poised to gain a significant market share thus it excites the investors. SpiderG product creates a b2b network and after a threshold number network can be monetizes in several other ways as well.

The concept itself attracted investor to invest in our business. Definitely SpiderG is potentially a next unicorn so our angel investor Mr. Sandeep Ghate came ahead and became our first angel investor and thus we have secured an angel investment round.

We have raised seed capital from other top industry veterans:

  1. Rahul Kirloskar, executive chairman, Kirloskar Pneumatic Co Ltd.
  2. Pravin Dongre, MD and CEO Glencore Grain India Pvt.Ltd
  3. Fusion Tech Venture ( of Promod Chawdhary of Praj Industry).
  4. Adi Sarvanan, founder and president, Allsec Technologies.
  5. Ashish Nanda
  6. Bhavna Holdings Pvt Ltd (Mahendra Doshi )

We have been using this funding for product development and hiring appropriate resources.

Please tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
SpiderG is a platform to connect SMEs to financial institutions like NBFCs and Banks for funding based on the transaction data generated by SMEs on SpiderG platform. SpiderG is a visibility solution tailor made for working capital management in small and medium enterprises. It acts as an easy book-keeping tool and provides SMEs real time visibility of all the current transactions with their customers and vendors.

We are one of the first data driven financing platform for SMEs in the world. We are building a data bridge between SMEs and financial institutions so that exchange of information is fast, and transparent so that funding cycles are enhanced.

Value propositions for SMEs, SpiderG provides utility tool to do e-invoicing, easy book-keeping, manage receivable and payables and access to easy and fast collateral free working capital loans by number of financial institutions

For NBFCs our value proposition is authentic loan leads with credible data and tool for real time portfolio monitoring.

What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have?
Our parent company Gladiris Technology was started in December 2013 and started selling an open source Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to Small and Medium Businesses.

Company was successful in ERP implementation in over a dozen companies but working with these companies and interaction with entrepreneurs revealed that their certain problems were left unaddressed. It was soon realized that key issues faced by SMEs cannot be solved only through an ERP software alone and after deep research of 6 months we came up with an idea of SpiderG in early 2015.

SpiderG is a platform for businesses where they can electronically transact and communicate with their vendors/suppliers and customers, and get actionable information about business and their supply chain.

What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
We are building an ecosystem, not just a product. SpiderG is an ecosystem of interconnected companies through e-invoicing network and market place of working capital loans.

Also our business model is what makes us different from our other competitors. Unlike other competitors we at SpiderG follows freemium model thus core features can be accessed without any upfront payment. One user per company get complete and free access to all SpiderG features.

What is the strength of the startup and the scale of operations? Who do You Perceive as Your Competition?
The way Facebook has done for individuals, we intend to the same for businesses. Just to give an analogy, facebook has just digitalized our social space and SpiderG is digitalizing the two companies interact with each other and thus leading to formation of network in the process. Once this network grows to a sizable number it can be a platform that can be leveraged by other service providers and enterprise application developers.

We assume all lending institutions as our competitions but we have devised a strategy not to compete them rather than co-opetition would be strategy moving forward.

What is the revenue model? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
Business Model: SpiderG follows freemium model thus core features can be accessed without any upfront payment. One user per company get complete and free access to all SpiderG features.

For enterprise software startup like SpiderG, freemium is a potent marketing tool that allows them to scale and attract a user base without spending too much on ad campaigns and deploying a tradition direct sales force. Free “satisfied” users also act as product evangelist as they refer other to your product and drive traffic.

Who are the consumers that you are targeting? How is this going to affect them?
We are targeting Small and Medium business less than Rs 10 crore in revenue. Our focus are companies which face acute working capital crisis. SpiderG will help these companies in two ways firstly it will help them manage their receivables better so that they can get their money from customers on time and second way in case of cash shortage giving them access to easy and fast collateral free loans.

How did you get your first customer?
We got our first customer through reference, and they have known us since our advisory and ERP consulting days.

What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
As far as big picture and future opportunities are concerned, word, which comes to my mind, is “humongous”. One needs to understand the product and its ecosystem clearly to understand its scope. For example, in Yr 2001 Google was just a search engine not charging anything for finding a specific search by user. On similar lines, in Yr 2005 Facebook was just a social media site, which connected two people and allowed them to share picture. But if you see both Google and Facebook have once thing in common, they were forming some sort of network in the product offering.

SpiderG is a product, which allows two businesses to transact electronically and collaborate on exchanged documents, thus forming a network. Imagine a scenario we are able to bring a significant number of companies on board transacting with each other. This would lead to formation of some sort of social graph for businesses. Other enterprise application developers could develop various applications for SpiderG platform as various third party developers make various apps do for android or for Facebook.

Businesses can connect far more efficiently with each other after seeing system-generated ratings based on their dealing with other businesses. The way we connect with each professionally on Linkedin on similar way businesses we connect with each other after seeing their “system generated” past records. We are also creating a market place for collateral free loans by collaborating with number of financial institutions, this opens huge opportunity for us in digital finance market.

Once network reaches a significant size, SpiderG platform can be used to provide large variety of b2b services.

I don’t want to put a number to this opportunity because that would be speculations but if I have to, I would say this is at least $100 billion dollar opportunity.

Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? What is the current turnover? (From Launching till date total no. of visitors on website/persons registered/enquiries and enrollment). Please explain in details.
We have closed to 600 SMEs on board, generating average of 15 invoices monthly with an average of Rs 25 thousand per invoice value.

What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months? 
We have set following major goals:

  • Onboard close to 50 thousand companies on SpiderG
  • Enables the collateral free loan market places with at-least 20 lending institution onboarded on SpiderG

What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs? 
There is no alternative for hard work. Sincerity and ability to learn from mistakes is essential to become a successful entrepreneur.

I would like to give some tips for young or aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • Challenge yourself
  • Take the risk.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Have a vision.
  • Do work you care about
  • Find good people.
  • Face your fears.
  • Take action.
  • Build a great team.

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