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Rajat Gandhi, Founder and CEO of “Faircent – India’s largest peer-to-peer (P2P) lending marketplace for loans” Shares His Successful Startup Story

Rajat Gandhi faircent

Please introduce yourself.

My father was a fighter pilot in the Air Force and hence I have traveled extensively in my childhood. I did my initial schooling across North India, finally finishing my schooling from Air Force Public School, Delhi. I graduated from Delhi University and after doing my MBA, I started my career in media with The Times of India.

I was with the Times Group for 14 years and was involved in multiple initiatives. I was part of the founding team of TBSL the holding company of brands like Timesjobs.com, Magicbricks.com and Simplymarry.com and was instrumental in the launch and growth of these brands.

After Times, I headed Performics in India, a digital marketing agency of Chicago-based Publics Group, winning clients like Airtel, Microsoft, RB, Nestle, Air France amongst others for them.

One of the earliest professionals of Internet in India, I gathered extensive hands on experience in launching and building Portals, online Classifieds, Communities, E-Commerce and Digital Advertising businesses. I have over 17 years of experience out of which 13 years have been in Internet.

I love traveling especially the mountains. I am very much passionate about driving especially in the higher Himalayas.

When did the idea of Faircent born?

The idea of Faircent was born with a personal experience that I had from one of my colleagues in 2011. He used to borrow small loans from multiple other friends to fulfill his needs at a specific point of time. For example, he once wanted to buy a Bullet and he had posted on Facebook requesting his friends and family for a portion of the funding, and in a week, he was riding his Bullet to office. This incident, coupled with my knowledge gained from reports on mobile payments, online media and my experience in building exchanges previously (for matrimony, jobs & property), I felt that Faircent could be the next logical step to move into P2P finance.

Introduce your Co-Founder/Founders and Team.

I (Founder & CEO), Vinay Mathews (Founder & COO) and Nitin Gupta (Co-Founder) joined hands to build Faircent.com

Vinay has been working with internet businesses for over fifteen years. He served as Country Head – Sales & Service Delivery with Timesjobs.com. and as the Regional Head – Interactive Services for Sify Technologies Ltd. Also, Vinay headed Alliances for Rediff.com. Vinay has a degree in MBA and is an avid cuber (22 to 77).

Nitin brings with him extensive senior leadership experience and expertise from the financial services, consumer internet & packaged goods industries. He has served as Country Manager and CEO for MasterCard (South Asia) and President of GE Capital India’s Retail Financing operation. Earlier, as President of Rediff.com, Nitin led the company to become one of Asia’s premier internet brands and a successful NASDAQ listing. His early career was at Unilever. Nitin has been involved with early-stage companies as a mentor, angel investor and Board Director. He was a non-executive Co-Founder of Lets Buy, one of India’s most successful e-commerce companies, which was sold to FlipKart, India’s #1 e-commerce company. Nitin is a passionate golfer.

Tell us more about Faircent.com, what makes you special from others similar startups?

Faircent is India’s largest peer-to-peer (P2P) lending marketplace for loans where borrowers and lenders can interact directly amongst themselves to decide a mutually agreeable rate for their loans. Our mission is to provide a marketplace that uses technology to speed up the process and cut costs. Thus, we provide an opportunity to the borrowers to get their requirements funded at viable rates and help lenders get the best possible return on their investment.

The whole process works on a reverse auction system. Multiple lenders can bid to provide loan to the borrower at a rate of interest similar or lower than that assigned to the borrower. Even borrowers can approach multiple lenders with loan requests. Depending on the demand and supply, borrowers can reject an offer from a lender or make a counter-offer.

Once the interest rate discovery happens between lender and borrower, Faircent facilitates the signing of a legally-binding loan agreement between the Borrowers and the Lender and facilitate the repayment process till the loan is fully paid up.

What sets us apart is our robust underwriting mechanism and our risk-mitigating steps. It starts at the borrower registration wherein our tech-enabled algorithms reject over 90% of the borrowers who apply for loans. Each borrower that registers with us is evaluated on the basis of his ability, stability and intention to repay across more than 55 parameters. We assign the loan amount, tenure and interest rates depending on our borrowers as well as investors best interest.

Our team of portfolio manager assigned to each lender help them build a portfolio of borrowers rather than investing in a single borrower. We have a rule wherein no lender can fund more than 20% of a borrower’s loan requirement which means every borrower is funded by minimum 5 lenders. We work with our borrowers and lenders round the clock to ensure that their expectations from P2P lending are met.

What challenges did you face while setting up Faircent? How did you overcome?

As mentioned earlier, though the idea to enter P2P finance came in 2011, I felt that the ecosystem then was not conducive for P2P finance platform and did not launch till 2014. There were two big building blocks for this business to make it scalable and viable. First, bureau data, which provides personal information on credit history and other details, and the second, payments. The ecosystem for payments back then was not really pro-electronic. But in 2013, we felt that the time was correct for an entrepreneur to build his business and that’s when we incorporated, spent close to a year in building the product and launched the product in 2014.

All I can say to those who are planning to enter the start-up space is follow your heart, don’t fear taking calculated risks and don’t let the naysayers influence your belief in your vision.

What’s your current path and future plans?

Our platform has over 6,000 registered lenders. The average ticket size of loans is 1.5 lacs. We have 25,000 registered borrowers and we are adding 3000 registered borrowers every month.

We are now witnessing on an average Rs 1 crore worth of loan transactions every month. We have disbursed loans amounting to Rs 6 crore in the last two years and aim to reach 400 crores in the next two-three years.

Visit faircent’s : Website | Facebook

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