This episode was originally recorded for release in September 2021…However, it stands the test of time.
The India GameChanger was joined by Chitresh Sharma, a co-Founder and the CEO of Refyne.  Refyne is a pioneer of income streaming for the workforce of India.
Some of the topics that Chitresh discussed:
  • Starting his first company when he was 19 years old
  • Still building while getting his Master’s degree in Scotland
  • The founding of his next company, Swipii
  • Coming back to India to found Refyne
  • The importance of finding product/market fit prior to building
  • The idea was to help people elevate their personal finances
  • How company culture can sometimes be more important than strategy
Other titles we considered for this episode:
  1. That Lesson Stays With You for Life
  2. I Always Believed from Early Days I am Unemployable
  3. You Are Going to Have to Make Some Hard Decisions
  4. EWA Is Not the Destination
  5. I Think the ‘Why’ Is the Most Crucial Part

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:00
We are on Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome to the India GameChanger on which we discuss how technology innovation is reshaping the business landscape in India. Today, I am psyched. I am very excited to be joined by Chitresh Sharma, the CEO and co founder of Refyne. Chitresh, thank you so much for coming on the show. How are you doing today?

Chitresh Sharma 0:23
Very good, Michael, thank you for having me on the show, I’m really excited to be sharing and answering some of your questions. Pretty excited about this one of its kind podcast for India.

Michael Waitze 0:34
Thank you. I’m very excited about this as well. You know, one of the things you said to me before we started recording was that things feel a little chaotic. And I always tell people, you know, I live in Bangkok. And everybody looks at Bangkok and thinks, oh my god, it’s so it’s so much chaos. And I always say to them the same thing. It may look like that from the outside. But inside there’s order inside that chaos, which makes it really useful. Anyway, I just thought I’d throw that out there. Can you give our audience a little bit of your background for some context?

Chitresh Sharma 1:03
Fantastic. Yeah, I agree with you. You know, every founder, I think out there is looking for, you know, order and chaos in some way or the form, always looking for templates that are predictable in nature. My background here, Michael is a two time founder, I’ve been lucky to be, you know, starting my career very early on. So my first startup was when I was 19, it was just out of your day to day life, you see a few friends who are devs. And you spot an opportunity where digitalization was just heading it up. And there are a lot of companies that were outsourcing work to India, you know, for more economies of scale, we just happen to patch on the idea and it outsource company was formed. And we were basically doing the digital marketing experience. And we were creating websites and helping businesses out from the UK, you know, to create everything digitally, at a much more economical way in and that company been going for 10 years now. I ended up going for my masters in Scotland, Glasgow, and I continued working on it. And we actually ended up getting some government projects there. We were creating, you know, again, software’s for them, and it continued as a company. And now we have clients in UK to buy an India, all HQ from Glasgow, my second company was right out of my university’s desperation, we found that there’s a massive gap in the market where data was being used by big brands wherein the medium to small brands had no clue about who their customers, it’s weird to have see these big companies, you CRM to understand the customers. But small medium, businesses have no clue who’s walking in who they are, what they’re going to be purchased, and more importantly, whether they’re going to be coming back, and how can they influence the behavior. And that got the idea of swipey, we became one of Europe’s first clo technology based startup where we partnered with all the banks, we allowed people to link their debit card credit cards into the app. And every time they shop, they got cash back, we work with 3000 brands, the scale the company as the CEO and founder for eight odd years. And to be honest, there was never a plan to stay back in the UK. But it really did allow me to start something from scratch with no connection with friends or family, you’re an alien to a new country, right? And studying something there. You know, it’s quite quite, you know, interesting in the sense that you learn so much. I think that’s been the biggest university of my life, where I actually believed that every morning I got up was to a new class to a new lesson. And that lesson just stays with you for life. Right? I really mean and, and I think that’s the reason I stayed there for eight years, even though I had no plans to slay back in the UK, and I wanted to build something in India. But it was quite an interesting time where, you know, I got connected to the global investor community, I encourage invested, connected to the global corporate world and, you know, started to make a name. And I was humbled to be recognized as one of the fastest growing, you know, entrepreneurs, startups in the UK, where, you know, I had the opportunity to sit with some of the best and the best of other entrepreneurs. And to be honest, that got me moving to my next idea, which was refined, but this time, I was strong headed to do it in India. So I came back in India 2020 started working on a lot of surveys and trying to prove hypothesis. So this is another one big learning, right? When you’ve done a startup, eight years down, you understand how important it is to find a product market fit before you just have an idea and get going with it. Right.

Michael Waitze 4:46
Exactly. Can I back up for a second? I want to dig a little bit deeper. Are these two businesses that you started where do you in the UK are they still running?

Chitresh Sharma 4:54
Yes, they’ve been going for I think the previous the first one has been going for almost 10 years now. The second one is going for almost a half years now,

Michael Waitze 5:03
did you sell either one of those businesses

Chitresh Sharma 5:05
in the first business, I’m still, you know, an advisor. On the second business, I’m still the second biggest shareholder in the company, just before the COVID, we were looking for an exit, but those chats went to stumble, because of the COVID situation there, right. But we are back on the game. And the team’s pulling the weight. And we’re hoping to see potentially successful destination.

Michael Waitze 5:27
And when you went to the UK, you said you got a master’s degree, but you also got an undergraduate degree in the UK as well. Is that right?

Chitresh Sharma 5:34
No, I did get my undergrad degree from India. It was just a master’s degree from UK,

Michael Waitze 5:39
when you went to university, I think is kind of the better question. Did you always intend to start your own business? Or was it something that, you know, just sort of came out organically, and by the time it just got too big? There was no way you could go get a job or would want to go get a job? You know what I mean?

Chitresh Sharma 5:53
Yeah, I mean, that’s a very good question. To be honest. I always from early days, believe I’m unemployable. Because we’re the only experience I to be honest, I have an in my resume, working for a company was back in the days at Hollister, helping with the clothing line and managing the backend piece. And that lasted.

Michael Waitze 6:15
That lasted what you said, yeah, so

Chitresh Sharma 6:17
it was pretty clear that I was unemployable. I mean, how could someone last 72 hours in such a low expecting job and never tried to apply for any other company after I knew that?

Michael Waitze 6:31
I missed a little bit of what you said. So you only lasted 72 hours on that job at Hollister. And why was that you just like couldn’t take it or you just didn’t like being bossed around what was it?

Chitresh Sharma 6:40
I think is less of being bossed around. I just don’t think that I was able to understand so many things coming my way without the reasons. And that became another big lesson, right? Like people telling you to do things without telling you why to do things. I think the why is the most crucial part, of course. And to be honest, I’m crazy to think that at that level, you know, you’re you’re just I mean, let’s just put it in the most candid way. You’re a store guy, right? Yeah. So I was a store guy there. You’re just supposed to work heads down. And you’re,

Michael Waitze 7:13
you’re not getting paid. Right? Just tell you to do.

Chitresh Sharma 7:16
Yeah. And in those 72 hours, I think I had six different confrontation with my manager. I’m trying to recommend him better ways to do things that was told to me. And it was a very good reason for me to get out of the door, and not even

Michael Waitze 7:35
think I’ve ever heard. I know, when you went home and told your parents that like you were fired, or you quit, were they surprised?

Chitresh Sharma 7:41
The beauty is I didn’t tell them I got hired. And so I didn’t need to tell them I got fired. That’s all. So it was it was quite interesting, because my parents, you know, usually you get an alliance from your parents, you’re early on in your career. You’re 23 Sorry, I’m 21. I was 21, then just you know, the parents were expected to send Alliance. But the beautiful thing happened with my ID company is that after three months, I didn’t need money from my parents with phase we were making a decent chunk at personal level was making decent than any other part time job would have ever fetch me and I would just getting three or four clients at best. And that was a great lesson learning lessons because I got closer to these small medium businesses and local about digital marketing. And I think that became the building blocks. So I think things that start early on is never a plan. It’s what is happening on a day to day experience. You just gotta have to make sure you are keeping an eye for the problems and just happens that I like to hear problems and try to recommend solution. Clearly, that doesn’t work as a store guy.

Michael Waitze 8:46
You’ll love this. I was on a recording yesterday with a Swiss guy. He’s also an entrepreneur. He’s a little bit older than you, right. And he was telling me that same thing when he was in university. Actually, when he was in high school, he started a business. He started another one university and they were making a decent amount of money. But he went into the Army, he said, and in this Swiss Army, he met a guy that said when I graduated from the army, I’m going to go get a job at Credit Suisse, which is a big bank or investment bank. So he said, Okay, I’ll do the same thing. And it’s kinda like you, he went there. It’s a good paying job. It was interesting work. And at the end of the year, he said his boss told him what his bonus was, is your end bonus. And he was just like, okay, and his boss thought, aren’t you super happy? He said, it’s not bad in the works. Not bad, but I make much more money in my side business.

Chitresh Sharma 9:32
Exactly. Yeah, and I think that’s the problem with the entrepreneurs, right, that they don’t want to hear instruction, they want to at least know why behind it. And I think it’s not just entrepreneurs, any enterprising person, right? Yeah. And that’s usually a key bug. In my think founders brain, most of the founders, if you’ve seen them in corporate world, they probably left at some point. The reason will be associate Do I absolutely. Look, why are you telling me to do this?

Michael Waitze 10:03
I loved when you said I’m on hireable. I just love it because I say this all the time about me. It’s not that I’m not smart enough. It’s not that I don’t have enough experience. I have plenty of experience. But I’m completely unhireable Because I cannot have somebody tell me what to do. Without knowing why. I just don’t if you don’t tell me why. It even when I was a kid, I was like this, my dad would say just do this. I’m like, why? You’d be like, Don’t ask why just do it. I’m like, why?

Chitresh Sharma 10:30
Completely, people knew why things would have been much better.

Michael Waitze 10:33
If I just had the reason I would do it. And I would be good at it. But just tell me why. Anyway, I want to learn more about refine. Right? So you were you’re committed to doing this in India, why were you so committed to doing it in India in the first place?

Chitresh Sharma 10:46
So firstly, come from a very traditional Indian family traditional ways of being very closely together, right? And I think that that never died in me. It was always that I want to get closer to my family. Who am I like you get to ask yourself question in your eight year journey in foreign. Why are you here? Why are you doing this? Who are you doing this for? Right? You can’t celebrate small moments or milestones with the ones that matter then was the whole point. And that’s the worst time right? That’s the worst question worst position to be in. Because the only person you’re fighting is yourself in the mirror. Right? Right. And that kind of answer doesn’t come very easy on and you gotta have to make some hard decisions. So and to be honest, I got married and my wife had in Scotland two big reason I think she helped me navigate the the high and low tides of my life. So I think that that is exactly why I wanted to build in India. I felt I had good experience. I’ve learned a lot from FinTech, we were Fintech startup X yp, I felt that I wanted to do FinTech because, you know, hey, I have eight years of experience, and I want to do and use it. And the best way and more importantly, the context, I think one of the most underrated things is, you know, a lot of founders, amazing entrepreneurs will tell people that do not worry about asking people our grade for any help, and people will do it. I swear on God, that’s exactly what happened in my life, like, there are people ready to give you time is just a bad presumption to think people are busy, and they’re not gonna give you a dime. And, and you just need one person or you know, and to be honest, I had couple of few of them in my life, that would be okay to hear ideas from me and crazy enough to believe in me. And I think the connection and the contacts is the most important things. And you combine that with experience, you have got a very strong mix to start something again, I mean, to be honest, it took me three years to do proper funding back in the UK, like, I mean, we got angel investment from day one, to be honest, we were lucky. But three years for a proper VC invest, I think it’s two and a half years or something in and you do the same thing in India, you’re looking for a big problem, you’re trying to make an impact, and you understand what you’re looking for. I mean, you don’t understand what you’re looking for. But you understand you’re looking for something big, right? You’re wanting to change people’s life or better. And the moment you get it, you have so much belief that the story automatically comes out. Right? It’s so an all you need to do is do the hard work of validating those hypothesis, whether it’s by a pilot, whether it’s picking up the phone to people believe it or not, I think we spoke to close to 5000 people who are taken different ways of micro financing to understand their situation. So we had a lot of data from the user side we are a lot of it, we spoke to close to 56 different corporate CHR OHS. So we had a lot of data to prove our validation. And we got really lucky. Again, my network back in the UK had already invested in Awa on which access we had. So it was easy sell. They understood the market, they understood the product, it was just making them believe that India was a much more bigger market than the markets they have earlier invested in AWS. And that is exactly what happened.

Michael Waitze 14:15
Yeah. Talk to me about refine, talk to me about some of the market research that you did. And then maybe you can just explain what earned wage access solutions are. And then maybe talk about why it’s so important for India per se. Is that Sure?

Chitresh Sharma 14:30
Yeah, makes sense. So I think going back to the very beginning, I had 27 ideas, right to be honest, and it took me a year to funnel down to the top one, like just the one that I can 100% focus on. The idea was to understand and help people elevate their personal finances right. It just happened naturally. I met my co founder he’s from microfinancing backgrounds really understood the problem they were trying to see and they were not able to get also it was a massive gap in the market. What we found that India as a country is moving really rapidly as you’re aware with consumptions and and so on. Were in the finance side, if you ask FinTech usually was in the time I came, I was associated either with UPI, or you know, so your payment world or lending world and and the lending world is so big in India because there is a massive unorganized market in the country. Because most of the people that are trying to figure it out help for the amendment crisis issue or any issue, they’re probably not the focus of the bank because of restricted credit scoring mechanics, you know, credit scoring is very new to India. So how are you going to base your risk assessment before giving away money to people and how do you assess whether they have the intent to pay back? Right, and I think that was very new in India, the credit score is still going, I don’t think he’s reached even at a level it should be today. You know, a lot of people are still figuring out the entire credit scheme market, especially the, you know, the unorganized sector, you know, or employees who are making under, you know, $1,200 per month. And when these people needed money, they were forced to go to microfinance as they were forced to go to moneylenders and verse doors, they were also forced to take money from loan sharks, local loan sharks are the worst, right?

Michael Waitze 16:24
They’re terrible. So in India, these these people with this type of employment, they get paid at the end of every month, right? That’s your standard operating practice. And is that means during the month, that means during the month, if they have some kind of cashflow problem, even an unplanned one where something bad happens, let’s say like their car breaks down and need to fix a tire, even if they didn’t overspend. Right. So you’re saying that what refined does is it gives them access to their salary before they get paid?

Chitresh Sharma 16:51
Yes, you’re absolutely right. So in a country like India, where you pay 30 to 45 days, some times I’ve seen 60 days, when you are going through a midlife crisis, it can be as is, you know, a normal situation as what you said, or during COVID times there were people standing at pharmacies not like having enough money to pay for medicine, even though they vote for it, right. Yep. And because the consumption is so high majority of people we interviewed found that they were living neck to neck, how to hand to mouth. And, you know, they were not they were not enough savings to be accessible to help them deal with problems. So we wanted to Revelation arise by giving people the power of pay and break the pay cycle of 3060 days, and just allow people to access the earnings anytime of the month. So we are the first TWA mark. And that’s exactly what Andres access means is you get to access what you work for, in less than 30 seconds from an app without any bureaucracy without any paperwork. So if 2am, my daughter needs to be seen to a doctor or for some emergency, I don’t need to worry about doing paperwork, I can access the salaries in my pocket, I work for it. And I’m not forced to hunt for you know, credit deals, which are usually very predictive in nature, because if you need one, they give you six and, and the entire EMI debt trap that gets you from one track to another. So with this, it’s very easy, right? You’re done your digital KYC. So you follow all the norms, and you get access to so Saturday 32nd, which works 24/7 360 673 65 days a year. All right. So you can use this literally anytime.

Michael Waitze 18:27
Where does the money come from? Right. In other words, I have an app, like you said, it’s two o’clock in the morning. I have some kind of emergency. Where’s the cash coming from? In other words, you’re not like, are you going to the company provide that money? Where does the cash come from?

Chitresh Sharma 18:42
Yeah, companies, we usually work with companies with 1000 plus employees, it’s really hard to expect them to break the working capital cycle of a cycle, because they have heavily invested in the 30 day cycle or 45 design, right? So what we do is we become the partner where we find in between the month requirement to our NBFC partner and we’re becoming an MBSE ourselves. So in order to be compliant with RBI, you need to be an NBFC in India. So we we reserve so non non banking financial company. Yeah, so, there’s a lot where you cannot lend any form. Yeah, so, so we basically get our NBFC partner when a request comes, we build a system where the money is streamed from our NBFC partners bank account to the employees bank account, every second. So the employee doesn’t need to do anything beauty of the process, the payroll amount, the technology, nothing needs to change from an employer side. It’s just like, nothing changed. And you’re now able to pay your employees every day. So it’s actually a big win win on both sides, if that makes sense.

Michael Waitze 19:45
And what does it mean at the end of the month, let’s say let’s say just for easy math, right? I get paid $1,000 a month, and I have an emergency or just or I take out money during the month even if it’s not an emergency, right. If I have access to that cash, I have access to it, so it doesn’t matter. Yeah. Yep, let’s say I take it out during that month $800. On my normal pay day, what do I get? 200 bucks?

Chitresh Sharma 20:06
Yes, you’re absolutely right. So usually you will not be given 100% of what you’ve accrued, we want to make sure there’s enough left for you to pay your fixed bills. So we give anywhere between 30 to 70%. Access. So you whatever is taken from by the app is automatically deducted and reconciled at the time of payroll. So you’re absolutely right with that example, that $200 will be in your hand, because you’ve already consumed $800 from refunds.

Michael Waitze 20:32
And where does the money get made? In other words, does the NBFC Do you charge the employees money to take the money out? Or is it free to them, but the company pays for where’s the money get made?

Chitresh Sharma 20:42
So we use mix and match. But our core offering we are India’s was zero interest or zero processing product means we do not charge any interest or anything. And that requires calculation or it’s tough for people to understand what they’ll be paying, which is another big huge problem that people get onto these credit schemes. And they have no clue what this person’s age and points means decimals all around, right. And we wanted to simplify that. So we keep it snap. So it’s a transaction fee, just like you would expect by paying your you know overdrawing money from ATM or something where you pay a small transaction fee every time you transact between the slabs, which is very visible in the app before people transact. So they are very clear that if I use the $800, I’ll be paying $2, they are very clear, there is no discrepancies or confusion around what can happen. And the beauty with our technology integration with employer means that the employee doesn’t need to remember when they have to pay back because it’s all done automatically. They don’t just don’t need to do anything differently.

Michael Waitze 21:49
Again, I want to just make sure that we understand this in a normal setup, right. There’s an employer and a direct deposit into somebody’s into an employee’s bank account. Yeah, Mr. A. And what you’re saying is you sit in between there now, and you connect to that person’s payroll. Exactly. And if I pull out 100 bucks out of my $1,000 salary, the company gets notified. Now it’s only 900. And I paid two and I pay $2, to get access to my money or some fee. Yeah, absolutely. And it doesn’t matter. If I let’s say, make $20,000 a month. If I take $1,000, I still pay $2 transaction fee,

Chitresh Sharma 22:27
it does changes on the amounts lightly. So we have different slabs, we have close to nine slabs, but it’s very visible to people what they will be paying so it’s never gonna be so it the best way to define is we’re going to be 1/4 of the most optimized credit card pricing that it’s one of the cheapest access you can get. And is

Michael Waitze 22:45
it a digital wallet? Or can I go to like a physical ATM and take money out? Like how does that work? Logistically?

Chitresh Sharma 22:51
Now we’re getting into the woods very soon going to be launching her friend. So that’s exciting that you asked the question. So right now the money is guaranteed to reach in your bank account 30 seconds if not free into your salary account. So you don’t need to change a salary account. You can be banking with any banker, very soon, with sooner partnership launching, you will be able to withdraw cash from different ATMs to

Michael Waitze 23:16
guard it. Okay, got it. That’s really interesting. How big is this market?

Chitresh Sharma 23:21
I think it’s a huge market, you know, 86 person of the employed population is our target TGW, you know, close to 200 billion being process. So it’s a very huge market. Because what you’re doing with AWS, I always tell people, AWS is not the destination, right? Always access is a journey of trust. Finance means only one word it’s trust, how do you build trust for your users. And the entire idea of AWS is give these people a chance to build a better credit score, be it Sybil score being refined score, which can then be used to tailor and personalize other financial product, create insurance, be it buy now pay later or you know your your positive debt, like education loan, or, you know, house loan or micro saving investment. So the idea is to bring that personalized banking experience on palm of your hand without you having to visit a branch or opening another account, or switching your account. So but the only way you can achieve that is one of the core product you’ve deployed, we will need to trust you as a company, we will need to trust you with the emergency needs or lifestyle needs. And once you’re able to deliver the value, you know, then you’re talking about a completely different market size.

Michael Waitze 24:38
Exactly. So this is my favorite kind of business. Basically, what you’re doing is you’re providing a product to people that they need desperately. In other words, they wake up every day and surely a wife who has a job is talking to her husband and says I’ve I’m going to earn this money if I could just have x and her husband says oh, just download the app, but like it just works right. So you know you have that. Absolutely. And once you create that trust As for me, now I start thinking, like you said, but I want to say this explicitly, again, if you have, you know, India’s one point something billion people, if 86% of them pick a number, it’s a very large number six 700 million people, I don’t know, right. But if you have some of them on there, create a digital wallet that then provides them with all of these financial services, not just the non bank FC stuff, right? Now you have a maybe have the opportunity to create the first digital bank, which I think would be super interesting, but also be a big channel for insurance distribution, which is also low in India, compared to the Western world. Is that right?

Chitresh Sharma 25:35
You’re absolutely right. So you kind of creating almost like a financial stack, where you’re giving people a chance, who are not the focus of the premium banking institution yet, it’s not that they’re not interested, it’s just the background information, these people is limited, and you’re giving them a chance to have a much brighter financial future. And you are encouraging them to be regular, you know, avoid absenteeism and and be respectful where you’re working. And, and if you’re doing that, then you’re a very good target market profile for other financial products, as you rightly said, right? So is making sure you have a more robust way to figure out people’s intent to use the service and their ability to pay back and you know, using it in a respectful manner. So you’re kind of creating a refined score in that instance, and all that without changing the bank account. So I think, in ways you you described it really well.

Michael Waitze 26:27
Yeah. What are you doing on the data side?

Chitresh Sharma 26:29
Well, that’s a very good question for my CTO, which happens to be from that background, I think one of the beauties is again, you know, lessons learned from past, we’ve been GDPR compliant from day one, believe it or not, so we do take heart consents every time people use. So we have three different layers of consent. So we made sure that data is because, as I rightly said, again, it’s all about trust, right, and any misuse or any intention, you know, leak of data can result in break of that trust. And that is, you know, that is that is make or break for us. So we take that very, very seriously. And for an early stage startup, which is only six months, we have an IC O Isa certificates, and we are GDPR compliant, and we will or we are compliant. So we make sure that every check, you know, boxes is tick mark, because the enterprise are not going to trust you with their employee base, if you’re not able to prove them, that you have the team, you have the tech, you have all the required certificates to protect the data. And we have huge Chinese wall between all the employees. So the data is only used for the services promised. We do not observe any product, we do not, you know, advertise anything. It’s purely on wage access to which the users of your given consent. So we’ve been very respectful of what the consent been asked.

Michael Waitze 27:47
Yeah, it’s a good idea to start that at the beginning, if you cannot do that later, just so much. It’s just fundamentally non trivial later. Absolutely. You have to do it from the start, right?

Chitresh Sharma 27:56
Yeah, if not, one day, you’re gonna get an email, and you need to be GDPR compliant, like what happened in the UK? And we had to go back to 1.6 million people for their consent. It’s a nightmare. Yeah, not a good place to be in the earlier to do it,

Michael Waitze 28:11
the better off you are. Exactly. So I don’t want to take up a ton more of your time. But you just did a fundraise as well, right? Yes. I was going to ask you if there were challenges during this during COVID, but probably not right? Because the market you’re serving is kind of indifferent to do you know what I mean? The pandemic? And

Chitresh Sharma 28:30
yes, yeah, I agree with you. No, I’m just saying you’re absolutely right. I think there are certain types of vertical. And to be honest, during the COVID times, Mark has been way more supportive of ideas ready to go after your traditional or new age problems. So we’ve been lucky again, coming back to our previous chats about the connections, you’ve got the trust, you got the belief that you’ve done this twice, people tend to trust you. And if they’re more invested in similar ideas, it’s a great benchmark for them. So they know the team, they know the idea. You give them the you know, hypothesis and validation to market strategy for the market you’re going after. And, you know, Zynga, you got you got people very keen to partner with you. And then you know, we’ve been lucky to have some amazing partners there.

Michael Waitze 29:17
Is this the largest round you’ve ever raised? Or did you raise larger rounds for you other companies,

Chitresh Sharma 29:22
is probably the largest round, I’ve raised. What I couldn’t I mean, what we didn’t do in seven and a half years, we did it in six months. Says quite an experience.

Michael Waitze 29:34
Do you feel an extra amount of pressure on you because of that? Are you just like indifferent to that pressure and just gonna go out and build even bigger because you have more cash on hand?

Chitresh Sharma 29:43
So I think that’s a very interesting question, because I don’t think I mean, I’m not trying to be a politician or diplomat, but I think it’s not about pressure. It’s about responsibility of the culture, right? Yeah, they’re like 85 people’s lives. dependent on you, and 600,000 people live depending on you, because you’re creating something that changes people live every day impacts people’s lives every day. So there is a huge responsibility. And this is we’re going to be hitting a million employee, Mark, hopefully before the end of the year, all of a sudden, that adds up to your responsibility. And, and I think one of the biggest USPS, I mean, biggest reason for us to be where we are today is because of our culture, we have been very careful and very clear that culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So we got to make sure that we have the best culture, we gives the best platform to people. And the best talent will, you know, automatically be attracted to what you’re doing, you know, and that is exactly what we’ve seen, right? We have had zero churn since we launched. And we strongly believe that it’s all about people. And that particular strategy and focus in people and culture has really helped us to be where we are, and to achieve what we achieved in just seven months.

Michael Waitze 31:05
Culture is a multifaceted thing, right? Because there’s the internal company culture, the way that employees treat each other, regardless of level and hierarchy. There’s also a way that employees and the company treats its partners, its business partners, and also the way it treats its customers. And they can get mixed around right as well. How do you How would you describe that culture? In other words, if you are purposeful about building it, what’s the culture that you want to build? If you could describe it for me?

Chitresh Sharma 31:33
Sure. Head of Marketing question that defines it is in the best way possible. And I just love with that statement. Culture is what people do when no one’s watching. Yeah, so Okay, right. Yeah. And culture starts internally. And that is exactly what is reciprocated, externally. If you don’t have happy or you know, a people enabler culture, you’re likely not going to have the culture and externally, either. If you can’t take care of your employee partners, yeah. Don’t expect them to take care of your clients or channel partners. I think just it’s simple, right? If you Yeah, and that has been get out in the market, you’ve seen some of the best cultures that have made it big like Stripe, right? Netflix, and there have been times where great ideas have fallen, because the culture starts to and culture doesn’t just deteriorate over a short period of time, right? People put a lot of trust in companies when they join. So you got to really have screwed up your job for them to leave after, you know, first year. So they won’t just leave tomorrow, and some may actually leave tomorrow. So you got to be very careful of you know, always working on strategies and taking ritual seriously. Right, because that brings trust. And again, I keep using the word Trust, it is a very critical part of what we do internal trust will bring in your external trust and so forth. So it’s kinda reinforcing, self sustaining cycle, I think the odds are very high, that you shouldn’t even have a place where people are unhappy to work, right? There’s nothing to gain out of it. So why not work on people? And because those are the people who are going to make you we’re going to make the idea of success or failure. So you might as well make sure that everyone feels the ownership and clarity and alignment on what again, going back to what you just said, Right? Why are we doing? People need to be clear why why are they doing things? And that’s what the founder should be working on to be honest.

Michael Waitze 33:42
Absolutely. Okay, Chitresh. That is a great way to end I really want to thank you again, Chitresh Sharma, the CEO and co founder of Refyne for coming on and doing this. I really appreciate your time.

Chitresh Sharma 33:53
Thank you Michael for having me. It was quite a chat. Really interesting questions and hopefully you got things to share to wider community. Thank you so much for having have a lovely evening.


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