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Ramgopal Subramani shares strategies for growth and resilience in fintech business

At TechSparks Mumbai 2024, Ramgopal Subramani from Perfios shared insights on acquisitions, scaling startups, diversification, and international expansion.

Ramgopal Subramani shares strategies for growth and resilience in fintech business

Monday May 13, 2024 , 4 min Read

“For a company to do an acquisition or merger, it is a marriage. The meeting of the minds is important, but the hearts are also equally important. Your gut has to say the words,” says Ramgopal Subramani, CSO, Perfios, shedding light on the intricacies of acquisitions, stressing the importance of aligning with the company's financial metrics, culture, and team dynamics.

At the second edition of Techsparks in Mumbai, Subramani, a seasoned entrepreneur shared invaluable insights into the journey of scaling a startup from its Series A phase to becoming IPO-ready. He emphasised the importance of various metrics including entrepreneurial adaptability, customer acquisition, team building, and international expansion.

Entrepreneurial adaptability

Subramani highlighted the hands-on approach required from entrepreneurs in the early stages, from performing diverse roles to adapting the business model to achieve success.

He said that during the early stages of their business, people should do everything and anything, from being the first person in the office to the last person to leave, from being the pantry boy to a salesperson.

But they must learn how to change course as soon as they experience success along the way. Subramani emphasised the need to develop a solid product-market fit and gain early traction, which frequently entails adjusting in response to market feedback.

Customer acquisition

As a startup grows, diversifying its offerings becomes crucial for its success. Subramani suggests transitioning from a single-product focus to a multi-product approach to achieve this. He emphasises the importance of scaling within existing customer segments before expanding further.

He mentioned that he always jokes about putting a foot in the door first and then thinking about how to expand but after you have established an entry, your performance becomes critical. This means engaging with your customers and providing them with valuable experiences. In financial services, it is essential to focus on information security and an integrated business approach.

Team building

Understanding the importance of scrutinising potential acquisitions, including those not pursued, is crucial for guiding entrepreneurs in identifying the ideal fit for their company's growth and success. Having the right investors who align with the company's culture and long-term vision is equally imperative.

Subramani emphasised the value of patient and supportive investors who contribute not only capital but also strategic guidance and mentorship. He explained that when considering a business deal, it’s important to remember that people are at the heart of any agreement. Even if the numbers look good and the valuation is right but you don’t feel comfortable with the other person, it’s not worth it.

Aligning expectations and terms can be challenging, but it’s important to be patient and understanding of everyone’s concerns. When you’re trying to sell or acquire a company, it’s natural to want to present yourself as friendly and easy to work with. But once the deal is done, you may see a different side of people. It takes effort to work through these challenges, but it’s worth it in the end.

International expansion

Discussing his company's journey of expanding outside of India and entering international markets, Subramani highlighted the importance of careful planning and execution. He emphasised adapting to local dynamics and working closely with trusted partners who share the company's objectives and culture.

The company realised that what works in India may not work in other markets. For instance, in some markets like Malaysia, Indonesia, UAE, or Kenya, the lending business is largely dependent on banking and takes a much longer cycle. To overcome these challenges, it identified local partners and worked jointly with them. Subramani stated that they enter every market with a partner who has a prior relationship with them and is deeply committed to growing and changing the lending business.

Subramani further elaborated on the need to strike a balance between growth and profitability at different stages of the startup journey. While the initial focus may be on sales and expansion, profitability ultimately becomes essential for sustained growth and reinvestment in the business. He stated that profitability is crucial for any business, and it is crucial to balance both sales and profitability. A business needs to generate more profit to reinvest and grow sustainably.