31 Jul 2019, 12:00 — 9 min read
Founded in 2011 by Raj N Phani, a serial entrepreneur, and seed investor, Zaggle is a payments company that designs proprietary tech platforms that connect corporate and group consumer requirements with merchants who have the best-suited solutions for them.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), maverick entrepreneur Raj N Phani (Raj) shares his business journey.
GL: Raj, the entrepreneurial bug bit you when you were very young. Share with us what motivated you to start Zaggle.
Raj: At 16, I sold designer t-shirts to friends and acquaintances. With the logo ‘Adventure Traveller’ printed on them, the customized t-shirts sold like hotcakes and the sale brought with it the thrill of first earnings.
My unconventional way of doing things made me continuously dabble with the idea of starting a business from a very young age. After playing a key leadership role in the student agitation that shook the national capital in the early 1990s, my metamorphosis into a successful entrepreneur happened. I worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers at Chicago in the Management Consulting Service (MCS) practice for a few years, advising multinational companies on business process re-engineering (BPR). My internal urge to become an entrepreneur made me come back to India in 2000.
My entrepreneurial journey started with eYantra Industries, a brand merchandising and corporate gifting company and we scaled up operations pan India. And then at a point, I realised that customers were looking for more choices and flexibility, which led to birth of Zaggle Prepaid Oceans Pvt Ltd in 2011, with group dining and concierge, channel partner incentives, online shopping and restaurant cashback services.
Our payment platform connects consumer and corporate spends in the form of employee perks system, employee benefits and expense management, employee rewards and recognition.
Zaggle pivoted from being a gift card provider to digital payments. Our payment platform connects consumer and corporate spends in the form of employee perks system, employee benefits and expense management, employee rewards and recognition. Zaggle is the first company that created a single card where multiple payment brands joined. Our major focus has been to assist corporates in creating a productive and efficient organisation. We are creating a culture that gives employees the discretion to manage hassle free financial transactions. In six years, our revenues rose from Rs 4 crores to Rs 2,000 crores,” he said. “Our goal is to build a completely network-agnostic payment ecosystem on which merchants and consumers could seamlessly interact.
I also started a blockchain services company called ZAGG Network to leverage blockchain in the payments space. I also invest in young startups and have made 28+ angel investments till date.
Also read: Rishabh Adukia, Advisor, NINECUBE
GL: Zaggle is a one-of-a-kind solution. What have been the most effective ways to raise awareness about your business?
Raj: We have a novel approach when it comes to payments. Zaggle offers a complete suite of corporate solutions like Expense Management & Employee Benefits, Employee Engagement, Incentives & Rewards, Gift Cards & Loyalty Solutions and customised prepaid card solutions. The combination of best-in class products with our strong partnerships across banks, corporates, and merchants ensures that we create customer delight every single time.
Zaggle inducted cricketer Jasprit Bumrah as its brand ambassador. It is a perfect alignment for Zaggle. We at Zaggle, like Jasprit Bumrah, are performing at our best. We have also started sponsoring sporting events. The company also roped in cricketer Hardik Pandya as its brand ambassador. As a part of the engagement, Pandya will be endorsing the firm’s consumer and corporate offerings, which include group dining deals, corporate cards, and rewards and loyalty systems. Hardik is a youth icon and is known for being an unapologetic fighter and an all-rounder with a zeal to win. We at Zaggle, resonate Pandya’s appeal and take a 360-degree view of the consumer requirements on all our products, and deliver consistently.
GL: What is the greatest challenge for your business to grow bigger, better and faster from here?
Raj: A separate, but related issue to saturation facing SaaS businesses in 2019 is hyperspecialisation. This phenomenon occurs when individual business functions are not best served by a single product but by many—often provided by different vendors.
The number of solutions available for any given problem intensifies hyperspecialisation. Not only does this lead to saturation, if you’re a business owner looking to utilize a best-of-breed application for a variety of business processes, you’ll likely need to use a separate product for each.
Despite the best attempts of many SaaS companies to provide an “all-in-one” solution, the reality is that most SaaS apps do one or two things very well.
To address hyperspecailisation, we have multiple product offerings for corporate needs like Save- Expense Management & Employee Benefits, Propel- Reward, Recognition and Engagement Platform, Edge- Corporate Gifting Solution. So, we are driving ourselves as a solution provider rather than a product distributor.
GL: Which offerings of GlobalLinker have helped you and what value does it have for SMEs?
Raj: The way GlobalLinker is connecting small business to customers and other business owners and entrepreneurs is amazing. I believe GlobalLinker is developing a unique SME enablement ecosystem for entrepreneurs and business owners.
We use GlobalLinker to connect to business owners who are looking for a perfect solution for their business problems. This is one medium no business owner should miss out on.
GL: Congratulations on your recently published book 'Made in Hyderabad'. Based on your rich entrepreneurial experience, what advice would you give to someone who is starting out?
Raj: Be a solution. Select a right niche which has enough demand to support a business. Just because someone has a great idea for business, doesn`t mean they should start a business. So, the first thing you should do is think long and hard about what niche you should get into in the first place.
Having a solid business model is very important to lead you and the business in the right direction. Some business models get paid right up front, and some models get paid after, and some business models are a lot more scalable than others. So does the business model, in order to scale, require an increasing amount of capital? Yes, it does. Choose the business model depending on your risk-reward criteria.
Speak up about your business, because how successful you are comes down to how well you know the market. How well you know how to generate interest, how well you know how to get an interested prospect that you can sell to.
Learn to enjoy the beauty of working 24 hours!
GL: What is the next big thing on your business agenda?
Raj: With my vibrant team, we are trying to make Zaggle the most innovative payments solution company by accelerating the conversion of cash transactions to digital payments through mobile, cards and other digital formats thereby bringing convenience, speed, security and choice to customers.
The only thing in every zaggler’s mind right now is focused on making Zaggle a billion-dollar company.
GL: We would love to know the person behind the entrepreneur.
Also read: Yosha Gupta, Founder, Memeraki
Network with Raj N Phani by clicking on the 'Connect' button on his profile
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