Instamojo CEO explains how the startup turned cash flow positive during the lockdown

Sampad Swain, Instamojo CEOBCCL
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Sampad Swain, CEO and co-founder of Instamojo shared how the company’s cash flow positivity in June was an unexpected welcome.
  • Instamojo runs businesses across ecommerce, lending and payments, and has reported cash flow positivity across all businesses.
  • Swain said that with an annualized Gross Merchandising Volume (GMV) of ₹2000 crore, they still hold just 1% of the $30 billion online retail industry.
  • Instamojo was founded in 2012 by Sampad Swain, Akash Gehani and Aditya Sengupta.
When the coronavirus pandemic began, fintech platform Instamojo founders thought this was going to crush them. Instead, in an unexpected turn of events four months into the pandemic, the platform saw cashflow positivity for its businesses across e-commerce, lending and payments.

Instamojo was founded in 2012 by Sampad Swain, Akash Gehani and Aditya Sengupta.

Flurry of products launched

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Instamojo, while has gained popularity for its lending vertical, also has an e-commerce and payments, which have also reported growth. Its businesses beyond payments, which used to have zero revenue until last year are now contributing to 30% of the total revenue.

During the lockdown, they only ramped up their operations even further.

“We launched 18 products in the 100 days – Mojo plus, Instacash, the online store platform among others. The plan A was always to just survive this, but the team of over 150 people at Instamojo worked hard and achieved this,” Sampad Swain, the CEO and co-founder of Instamojo told Business Insider.

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During lockdown, Instamojo has already seen a 25% increase in the number of daily merchant sign-ups. For the pilot run of its sachet loans over WhatsApp, the platform saw 140 merchants apply for over 290 loans worth ₹19 lakhs between April and May. The interest rate ranges between 0.25-1% with a 3-day repayment schedule.

Swain says that their business grew as the coronavirus pandemic turned out to be demonetization 2.0 for merchants. When in November 2016, when the existing ₹1000 and ₹500 notes were banned, it had pushed customers to go digital.

Cutting down costs

When the coronavirus pandemic shutdown the country, Swain, like many other startup founders, believed that this could be the end of their business, so they took some immediate steps to control costs.
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“In the end of March, we decided to take cover – we cut costs, stopped our paid advertising campaigns. But the pandemic is actually turning out to be a boon for businesses like ours. We allow merchants to take money from consumers in a digital format and also help them get credit. We were at the right place at the right time as merchants started using us more and more,” he said.

Next aim – Double the business and stay profitable

In the beginning of the year, Instamojo’s aim was to turn profitable by the end of 2020 but with that out of the way, their aim is to now double the business while staying profitable.
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Catering to micro merchants, Swain said that with an annualized Gross Merchandising Volume (GMV) of ₹2000 crore, they still hold just 1% of the $30 billion online retail industry.

“Being profitable allows us just one thing – focusing on low profitability and high impact areas, where the cost of doing and falling is negligible because profit toh ban raha hai,” said Swain.

Swain is betting on the Mojo Commerce business – their SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) online store offering, where they help micro merchants go online. “The idea is to build a world class online store platform like Shopify for the Indian emerging market. We also want to see what it takes to take Instamojo global,” he said.
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While they are not in a hurry to raise funds, Swain doesn’t rule it out completely. Early this year, Instamojo had raised Series B funding from Gunosy Capital, AnyPay-a Japanese payments firm. It also counts Kalaari Capital, Blume Ventures, 500Startups, Times Internet as its investors along with angel investors like Rajan Anandan and Sunil Kalra.


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