Indian Startups 101: How Payment Gateway Instamojo Built a Business by Bringing Small Businesses Online
A recent Nasscom survey said that the potential for SaaS-based businesses is tremendous in India, and Instamojo is a prime example of that. Founded in 2012, the payment gateway solutions provider has over 1.2 million customers, including big names like UrbanClap, 91 Springboard, Dunzo, Adani Realty, and more. Instamojo essentially allows any business owner to start selling their goods online, and collect digital payments through different modes. It also allows businesses to build their online stores easily, and customise and manage it through the mobile and web. Its biggest USP is the simple and quick setup process that is understandable to even an Internet apprentice. Instamojo also offers its clientele the ability to collect payment through different online modes like net banking, cards, email, SMS, WhatsApp, and even Facebook.
Since COVID-19, Instamojo has seen 25-30 percent growth on its platform. From April onwards, Instamojo’s customer base in the education sector has seen a massive 66.58 percent growth in online presence and transactions. Businesses that deal in computer accessories and services have seen a 95.4 percent growth in transactions, and B2B companies have seen a whopping 117.54 percent increase. The food retails and services sector has also seen an 86.12 percent increase in online transactions.
Instamojo says that transactions in the travel category saw a steep decline after April, but steady growth in the category has been witnessed in the month of August and September. The company says that there has been a 16x growth in travel volume and 3x growth in the number of transactions in travel businesses. Instamojo plans to offer its services outside of India in the next few years. The current employee strength of the company is 130, and it is looking to hire more professionals in tech, product and design roles.
Here’s Instamojo by the numbers:
Experts opinion: Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst at research firm techARC says, “I think Instamojo brings in a lot of ease in making digital payments. Though the tech and other elements are just like any other payment mode, they have somehow been able to position it in a way making digital payments very easy and simple. The challenge they have is, in the recent couple of years a lot of alternatives have emerged like the Paytm. I believe Instamojo would need some telecom operator collaboration to have a regular home base transacting.”
Talking about the SaaS (Service as a sector) industry in general, P. N. Sudarshan, Partner, Deloitte India says, “India is going through mass digitization, which brings industry value chains into the digital fold enabling shared information exchange across the supply chain. Small and medium enterprises are integral part of our manufacturing and services industries in India, and to truly achieve the potential of mass digitization, it is necessary that small and medium enterprises access enterprise level software provisioned at flexible pricing models. SaaS as a business model is definitely well positioned to catalyse this change and cost-effective digital tools would help us move from a “data poor” to “data rich” economy.
We spoke to co-founder and COO of Instamojo, Akash Gehani, to know a bit more about the company’s success story and its future plans.
1) How did you think of this business idea? When did you finally take the leap of faith and make it official?
This was a need felt by us founders, there was no convenient way for an individual to sell and collect money over the in1ternet. We could see that technology will play a big part in how a business runs over time, and wanted to do something to help small businesses leverage the internet. We believed that helping small businesses get on the internet to collect payments was the best stepping stone for them, and that idea made us take the leap. When we shared our idea with friends, there was a lot of enthusiasm. Many of them helped to get the word out there.
2) Could you share some interesting stories about initial struggle days? How did you manage to overcome these struggles? What has it taught you?
There was a time when business was not taking off, and it seemed like we will have to shut. And then some use cases just exploded for us, where our revenue grew >5x in one month, after being stagnant for a while. We were doubting ourselves, but post that a lot of belief and momentum came back. Also, partnering with banks was a struggle, since they didn’t find this worthwhile, and saw it as very risky. With a lot of persistence and over many rejections, we finally were able to get going.
3) Every successful startup has to deal with challenges that the outside world knows little about. Would you please offer our readers some insight on one such incident?
There have been other moments where we were running out of cash, but then had to dig deep, focus on all areas where we could extend our runway, and then managed to survive.
4) What are the biggest milestones that Instamojo has crossed since its inception? Please offer details on them.
One of our biggest milestones has been empowering 1 million merchants on the platform. The launch of our Capital and Shipping products helped us move to a full-stack platform for businesses, which was another big milestone. Becoming profitable recently, and especially during these Covid times, is also a big milestone.
5) Could you please offer some details on the impact of COVID-19 on your business?
Covid-19 has impacted many of our existing businesses, but they are reacting well to it. Moreover it has made adopting online tools imperative for many businesses out there. This is an irreversible change and has helped us acquire more merchants, which will bode well in the longer run. Since COVID-19, we have seen a 25-30 percent growth on our platform.
6) Any advice for young Indian entrepreneurs out there?
My only advice is to stay focused on the problem you’re solving and your customers. Do not get distracted by competition, or start chasing vanity metrics, which many do since the focus changes from customers to investors. You have to be true to what motivated you to start the business, and stay aligned to it.
7) What are the big plans in the future? Where does Instamojo see itself in the next five years?
Our aim is to empower every individual and business to adopt the Internet to grow their business, and we will provide them with all the tools that they need for it. Instamojo will be synonymous with starting and growing the business. At the same time, we will be doing this in other countries across the world over the next few years.
Diamonds may help measuring thermal conductivity in living cells
Scientists have very precise instruments, but measuring properties of tiny little cells is still very difficult. Now researchers at the University of Queensland have developed a new tool to measure heat transfer inside living cells. It includes actual diamonds and it can work as both a heater and a thermometre. Someday it can improve cancer diagnosis.
Cancer cells are different – they behave differently and exhibit different properties. Scientists have long speculated that in some cases precisely targeted thermal therapies could be very effective against cancer. However, in order for this to become reality scientists needed to know thermal conductivity of living cells. With current technology it is literally impossible to measure thermal conductivity – the rate that heat can flow through an object if one side is hot and another is cold – inside of such tiny living things as cells.
Scientists from Australia, Japan and Singapore now employed nanodiamonds (just tiny little diamonds) to act as minute sensors in a new system. Diamonds are great, because they are very hard and because they are just a different form of carbon, which is very well-known to us. Scientists coated their nanodiamonds with a special heat-releasing polymer. This resulted in a sensor, which can act as a heater or a thermometre, depending on what kind of laser light is applied. This sensor allows measuring thermal conductivity in living cells with a resolution of 200 nanometres.
Associate Professor Taras Plakhotnik, lead author of the study, said that this new method already revealed some new interesting information about cells. He said: “We found that the rate of heat diffusion in cells, as measured in our experiments, was several times slower than in pure water, for example.”
If cancer cells and healthy cells exhibit different thermal conductivity, this kind of measurement could become a very precise diagnostic technique. Also, because these particles are not toxic and can be used in living cells, scientists think they could open the door for improving heat-based treatments for cancer. Measuring head conductivity could help monitor biochemical reactions in real time in the cell. But that’s not all. Scientists think that this method could lead to a better understanding of metabolic disorders, such as obesity.
Diamonds are commonly used in science and industry. People oftentimes see them as something from the jewelry world, but they are much more common elsewhere. And they are not even that expensive. Hopefully, this study will result in a new method to research living cells and maybe some novel therapies as well.
Source: University of Queensland
Redmi Note 10 Launch Teased Officially After Rumours Tipping February Debut in India
Redmi Note 10 launch has been officially teased on Weibo. The new development comes just weeks after the rumour mill suggested the existence of the Redmi Note 10 series that could include the Redmi Note 10, the Redmi Note 10 Pro, and the Redmi Note 10 Pro 5G. The new series is expected to succeed the Redmi Note 9 family that debuted with the launch of the Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max in India in March last year.
Redmi General Manager Lu Weibing has teased the launch of the Redmi Note 10 on Weibo. Instead of giving away details of the phone directly, Weibing has posted an image of the Redmi Note 9 4G asking users about their expectations with the Redmi Note 10.
The Redmi Note 10 is speculated to launch in India alongside the Redmi Note 10 Pro in February. Both phones will be priced aggressively, according to tipster Ishan Agarwal. The Redmi Note 10 in the series is tipped to come in Gray, Green, and White colour options.
Although Xiaomi hasn’t provided any specifics about the phone yet, the Redmi Note 10 Pro 5G purportedly received a certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) earlier this month. The phone is also said to have surfaced on the US
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website with the model number M2101K6G. It has also reportedly appeared on the websites of other regulatory bodies including the European Economic Commission (EEC), Singapore’s IMDA, and Malaysia’s MCMC.
Redmi Note 10 series specifications (expected)
The Redmi Note 10 Pro is rumoured to come with a 120Hz display and include the Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G SoC. However, the 5G variant of the Redmi Note 10 Pro is said to come with the Snapdragon 750G SoC. It is speculated to have 6GB and 8GB RAM options as well as 64GB and 128GB storage versions. The Redmi Note 10 Pro models will come with a 64-megapixel primary camera sensor and include a 5,050mAh battery, according to a recent report.
Similar to the Redmi Note 10 Pro models, the Redmi Note 10 is also rumoured to have both 4G and 5G versions. The smartphone is tipped to have a 48-megapixel primary camera sensor and include a 6,000mAh battery.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro and the Redmi Note 10 are both expected to run on Android 11 with MIUI 12 out-of-the-box.
What will be the most exciting tech launch of 2021? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
Cybersecurity: Blaming users is not the answer
A punitive approach toward employees reporting data breaches intensifies problems.
Experts are warning, when it comes to cybersecurity, blaming users is a terrible idea. Doing so likely results in creating an even worse situation. “Many organizations have defaulted to a blame culture when it comes to data security,” comments Tony Pepper, CEO of Egress Software Technologies, in an email exchange. “They believe actions have consequences and someone has to be responsible.”
“In cases where employees report incidents of data loss they accidentally caused, it’s quite common for them to face serious negative consequences,” continues Pepper. “This, obviously, creates a culture of fear, leading to a lack of self-reporting, which in turn, exacerbates the problem. Many organizations are therefore unaware of the scale of their security issues.”
Pepper’s comments are based on findings gleaned by the independent market research firm Arlington Research. Analysts interviewed more than 500 upper-level managers from organizations within the financial services, healthcare, banking, and legal sectors.
What the analysts found was published in the paper, Outbound Email Security Report. Regarding employees responsible for a loss of data, 45% of those surveyed would reprimand the employee(s), 25% would likely fire the employee(s).
SEE: Identity theft protection policy (TechRepublic Premium)
Pepper suggests while organizations may believe this decreases the chance of the offense reoccurring, it can have a different and more damaging effect. There’s a chance employees may not report security incidents, to avoid repercussions from company management.
“Especially in these uncertain times, employees are going to be even less willing to self-report, or report others, if they believe they might lose their jobs as the result,” adds Pepper.
It gets worse
According to survey findings, a high percentage of organizations rely on their employees to be the primary data breach detection mechanism–particularly when it comes to email. “Our research found that 62% of organizations rely on people-based reporting to alert management about data breaches,” mentions Pepper. “By reprimanding employees who were only trying to do their job, organizations are undermining the reporting mechanism and ensuring incidents will go unreported.”
The lack of truly understanding why data is escaping the digital confines of an organization makes it hugely difficult for those in charge of cybersecurity to develop a defensive strategy that will effectively protect an organization’s data.
Overcome the blame game
Once it is understood that reprimanding employees is ineffective, organizations should look to create a more positive security culture. One immediate benefit is the increased visibility of heretofore unknown security risks.
Another benefit is the ability to show regulatory bodies the organization has taken all reasonable steps to protect sensitive data. Pepper adds, “If you don’t know where your risks are, it’s hard to put reasonable measures in place. Regulators could surmise that during a data breach investigation and levy higher fines and penalties.”
Technology has a role
Once the blame game is curtailed, it’s time to get technology involved. “The first step is to get reporting right, using technology, not people, which will remove the pressure of self-reporting from employees and place the responsibility firmly in the hands of those in charge of cybersecurity,” suggests Pepper. “Advances in contextual machine learning mean it’s possible for security tools to understand users and learn from their actions, so they can detect and mitigate abnormal behavior–for example, adding an incorrect recipient to an email.”
This is where technology makes all the difference. It prevents accidental data loss before it can happen. It empowers employees to be part of the solution, and technology gives the security team unbiased visibility of risks and emerging threats.
What cybersecurity teams need to understand
Education about potential consequences is vital. Anyone working with the organization’s digital assets needs to understand the possible outcomes from a data breach–for example, regulatory fines or damage to the organization’s reputation.
It’s a safe bet when users understand the consequences of emailing client data to the wrong recipient or responding to a phishing email, they’ll be much more likely to report the incident if and when it occurs. Remember: If an incident isn’t reported, there’s no way to remediate it or prevent it from happening again.
Pepper, in conclusion, offers advice to those managing cybersecurity. “The best way to engage employees with security, and ensure they understand its importance, is to create a ‘security-positive’ company culture,” explains Pepper. “Security teams need to reassure the wider organization that, while data breaches are to be taken seriously, employees who report accidental incidents will receive appropriate support from the business and not face severe repercussions.”
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