Pushkar Mukewar is helping small and medium-sized businesses on three continents survive and scale with his growing fintech platform. The startup, Drip Capital, has acquired funding from top-tier investors like Raison Asset Management, Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, and TI Platform Management.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Finding product market fit and scalability
- How Drip Capital’s financing products work
- Having cofounders in different countries
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About Pushkar Mukewar:
Pushkar Mukewar is the CEO and Co-Founder of Drip Capital. At Drip, he is responsible for defining the strategic direction and managing product, business development, and operations of the company.
In his 13 years career, he has worked across various geographies and has an in-depth understanding of the global financial services industry.
Pushkar realized the huge potential of addressing the working capital gap for SMEs in emerging economies like India by using technology. This turned out to be his inspiration behind the foundation of Drip Capital in 2015.
Drip offers a unique trade financing product targeted towards SMEs engaged in cross-border trade by making the underwriting and financing of international B2B transactions seamless.
In the past, Pushkar was a venture capitalist at Saama Capital and was involved with a number of high-growth startups, including Snapdeal, Bluestone, and Paytm.
He has also been a Consultant with Oliver Wyman in the US, UAE, and Switzerland, where he advised a number of financial services clients on strategic and operational issues.
He started his career at Capital One, where he developed credit risk analytics for the subprime consumer loans business.
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Connect with Pushkar Mukewar:
Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: All righty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today. We have a very very exciting guest. You know we have an exciting guest. We’re gonna be talking about all the good stuff that we like to hear building scaling financing all of the above but without farther do let’s welcome our guest Today. Pushkar Mukaur we’ll come to the show how you doing.
Pushkar Mukewar: Great Alejandro Glad to be on the show.
Alejandro Cremades: I so originally born in India so how was life growing up there. Give us a little of a walkth through memory lane and.
Pushkar Mukewar: Ah sure. Ah, so yeah, born in India I kind of grew up in a secondier small town called Nakur which is right in the center of the country. Um, and you know I come from a community of of businesses business small business, a small business.
Alejandro Cremades: Um.
Pushkar Mukewar: Families and growing up. You know I just saw the challenges with small businesses face when it comes to access to credit and that kind of stayed with me. Um I went to college so moved to the us for college and then kind of you know also worked in the us for a. Ah, for a few years so I did my undergrad and in computer science. But then I sort of switched gears and moved to financial services. Um, and then also ended up doing my me in the us before deciding to move back to India. Um, yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: And why why? I mean we see in this case, you know you had as you were saying you know your family. Um, you know you saw there the issues with the lack of access to to credit. I mean it sounds like business. You know was something that you know you wanted to do I mean you were seeing people you know around you having their own companies. You know left and right I guess 2 questions here number 1 is why not you know, studying business right? away you know, obviously you know you ended up going to work on which obviously you had it in mind. But. You know, sounds like computer science was the first stop. So why was that the first stop and then the next question that I would like to ask you you know based on what you just shared. Is you knew that you wanted to launch your own business. So why did you go and work for other companies like capital one. So let’s go with the first one you know why did you study computer science instead of business.
Pushkar Mukewar: Sure, um, so I think um, you know India is a very traditional kind of society and I think typically most people opt for 2 1 of 2 career options. it’s it’s either you become a doctor or you become an engineer and of course you know there’s there’s a host of other options. But. In general I think the the community I grew up in you know education was a big focus area and and I don’t think during during that time studying business at ah at an undergrad level was something which most people did um and I and generally enjoyed mathematics and you know and. Kind of everything to do with mathematics and I think computer science at that point was supposedly like a hot area and I and I did kind of enjoy whatever computer science exposure I had right? So when it came to kind of. Picking my major for undergrad I thought computer science would be very interesting. Um, obviously I wouldn’t go on and say that I had to foresight that technology is going to become like you know enabler for a lot of other things over time but but at that point computer science just seemed. As a very interesting area something which because I loved math physics and most of the mathematical sciences I think I felt like that was kind of in line with you know my interests while the idea was to always start a business I thought that.
Pushkar Mukewar: Having a technical undergrad would would generally be helpful and would be would be something which you know, um, which is which is which would be something which would be sort of stay with me, you know whatever I choose to do in my career eventually. Yeah. And then I think your second question was around. You know if I wanted to start a business. You know why not jump in right away why why go through sort of working with other companies and so and so forth. Um, so to me I think having grown up in India I think a part of me always um, believed that I should get. Global exposure I should also spend time abroad. Um lot of my distant relatives had ah were already in the us and I think part of me always sort of wanted to step out and kind of experience. You know, living and working in ah in a completely different cultural setting. Um, so when the opportunity came by I decided that it made sense for me to first initially sort of move to the us for education and then also get some years of experience behind behind me. Um, something which will just expose me to business right and working in a larger organization just build help build skills which would be relevant even as I went to business school and then eventually launched my own business. So so it was something which you know while I wanted to always start my business eventually I felt.
Pushkar Mukewar: You know, kind of working in a larger organization for some time would be would be a good good step towards that journey.
Alejandro Cremades: And obviously warton. You know it’s a phenomenal school. You know they are great. You know you even have like so those competitions and you know they ask you to put together a business plan for something you know as the end project. You know, like really really interesting stuff and and great initiatives there. You know which really pushes people into.
Pushkar Mukewar: F.
Alejandro Cremades: To build in their own companies. I mean there’s incredible companies that have come out of there know like whereby parker and and a bunch of others. But 1 thing that here that thing that really strikes me is you know at this point you know you are in the us you know you fail come to the land of opportunity pursuing the american dream. Ah, and. You decide to go back to India you know versus you know, doing something of your own here in the us. So why going back to India.
Pushkar Mukewar: Yeah, so um, I mean to be honest I I never really felt at home in the us I think for for me, it was always like I wanted to go to the us sort of work there get some experience there. But. Part of me always wanted to be back home and do something back home in India. Um, so so for me, it was always very clear that eventually I wanted to return back and you know, um I think business school seemed like the right kind of ah you know juncture in my. Professional journey where post that I think I had an opportunity to return back to India and I sort of capitalized on that. Um now. Um the other thing which was also badly happening I think as you know as kind of you know things progressed was that when I went to the us back in 2003 2004 um, there were not enough opportunities in India right? So if you if you kind of ah pursued you know higher education went to a top business school like Wharton There were not many opportunities back home on neither on the startup side nor on kind of professional side which were ah which were um you know ah sort of paying well enough and and and the right set of opportunities for somebody who had actually gone through that kind of a professional journey. So um, so part of me I think so so 1 thing which also evolved over the ten years with which I spent in the us is that.
Pushkar Mukewar: A lot many more things started happening in India right? The the financial services industry overall evolved in India you had a lot of um you know foreign institutional investors we started setting up shop startups kind of you know, started emerging in India um, of course there were not. Enough successes by then but we had already started seeing a number of venture capital firms coming to India a number of startups emerging and starting to grow in India. Ah so I felt like if I was to take a bet on my career longer term and personally I anyway wanted to be in India um, it just seemed like India would be the right place. Place for me to be um so I did initially move back joining um a venture capital firm so that I could just get exposure to the market and really I understand because since I never worked professionally in India um, in order to spend some time kind of really understanding the market. Um, and then. You know, but at some point um felt right that it was the time to take a step step back and like sort of you know, take the plunge in entrepreneurship.
Alejandro Cremades: So at what point did you feel he was right.
Pushkar Mukewar: Ah, so because I think the eventual goal was always to start my own venture as I started working in the venture capital industry. Um, you know I felt like ah the the role was a lot more about. Dealmaking and not as much about actually doing operations or building something. Um, so so I started thinking about what what could I do right? and I think one of the inhibiting inhibitating factors at that point was I didn’t have a cofounder you know so I didn’t have I wasn’t. Neither did I have like a narrowed down opportunity that okay this is what I’m going to go do once if I do take the plunge into entrepreneurship and neither did I have a co-founder. So um. I connected with I reconnected with actually one of my close friends from Wharton who was in the valley at that point and he had postwarton joined Cisco cop Dev um, so he was also sort of working there but but he was also kind of inching to you know, take the plunge. And we started talking and given our backgrounds both of us had spent a number of years in finance and were’re were technologists by background. We. We started exploring opportunities within fintech and I think at some point both of us felt like hey you know the only way we are going to make anything happen is if we.
Pushkar Mukewar: Our full time jobs and and go all in. Um, so yeah, basically 3 years after working for 3 years after business school I felt it was the right time for me to ah just to step back like you know to take the plunge.
Alejandro Cremades: It’s well taking the plunge drink capital. So um, what is drip capital for the people that are listening. What is the business model of Drip capital and how do you guys make money.
Pushkar Mukewar: Sure, ah, so we are essentially um, you know so our mission is to really so sort of you know, enable small and medium size businesses to realize their full potential and we focus on offering working capital solutions for small and medium sized businesses. Um. We um, we essentially offer 2 kinds of products you know because working capital is a big challenge for businesses either. Their capital is stuck in receivables or they need to make payments to their suppliers. So in payables so we offer 2 kinds of solutions to small businesses. 1 is a receivables financing solution where. Ah, business who is approved on our platform can essentially submit an invoice and get paid instead of waiting 60 Ninety days can get paid upfront for a commission or for a fee which they pay to us the other product. We also offer is a payables financing solution where. Instead of the business making the payment to their supplier. We make the payment to the supplier on the behalf of the business and a business can get flexible payment terms but be 30 60 90 day terms. Um, so essentially what this enables the businesses to do is that? um. It enables them to unlock working capital which they can use to buy more inventory manufacture more goods sell more and hence grow their business and working capital is one of the biggest challenges with small businesses have not just in emerging market but also in developed market.
Pushkar Mukewar: And that’s the product or that’s the solution we are looking to really solve for um and that’s the core business. However, I think being working with a number of small businesses. What we’ve realized is that when it comes to trade or when it comes to kind of growing their business. But Beyond working Capital businesses have also other kinds of challenges right? and we’ve also now ah started offering a forex solution because a bulk of the business we do is more Cross-border in Nature. We’ve also now started offering a forex solution on our platform and over time the idea would be that can we add. Other kinds of products and services which just makes the life of a small business. Easy.
Alejandro Cremades: And what were some of the early days challenges that you are that you were experiencing and especially compared to having seen you know some of those companies some of your friends you know at work on that went on. Perhaps you know to start their own companies. What were some of those challenges to that were a little bit different because you were in India.
Pushkar Mukewar: Yeah, ah so we um so when we decided to launch I think my cofounder was in the valley I was in India so we on day one itself had like kind of a cross-border team and presence. Ah, which pose its own set of challenges because we obviously had to. Um, you know, spend a lot of time traveling. We had to kind of communicate with each other. We were also not exactly sure what specific while we had a broad idea that we wanted to do something within fintech and within fintech we were more excited by credit because that was an area which also capitalized on our strengths my experience in capital one. My cofounders experience having worked at Blackrock and and done a lot of work on credit market um, within credit as well. We were not hundred percent sure on what opportunities made sense right? Um, so a lot of the initial time was really spent on experimenting with different ideas right. Um, and you know small business was exciting. But then you know within small business. What specific product do we offer what segment do we go after ah was something which we were still kind of you know, ah figuring out right? and a lot of what we did I think as first time entrepreneurs first -time founders was also doing things literally step by step right? We walk great shows. We tried to talk to a lot of small businesses we. We we started with a product which then we realized was just difficult to scale up, you know and so on so forth right.
Pushkar Mukewar: And then combine that with the fact that both of us were in different geographies. You know, um, made things even more challenging. But I think 1 thing led to another and you know within small business segment. We had launched initially with a product which was focused more on us small businesses. Ah, but then realized that it was just difficult to acquire customers in the us at scale and that’s when the kind of model pivoted to focusing on indian small businesses which are exporting and and you know that’s where we started seeing a lot of traction and that’s where we launched our product and capitalize. It. Is today really started with that being the segment of the market we focused on in initialia.
Alejandro Cremades: And then in terms of um regulation due you know how does it work you know because obviously you know here in the Us you know as we know it you know fintech companies. You know they’re heavy on the regulator regulatory side so you know obviously as you were saying you know you had you know different day. You know, ah people in different you know sites of the world. You know So How does that work Too. You know from a regulatory you know? um, ah perspective.
Pushkar Mukewar: Yeah, yeah, ah so we started in India and the focus was so the first focus was can we work with small businesses in India which were exporting and essentially do ah receivables financing product for them which I said is one of the core products we offer. Um. Now. Of course as we started in India and we started kind of acquiring customers in India we also did a fair amount of work on really understanding the regulations governing this kind of a business model in India for to begin with um. And and I think after seeking like their opinion from the right set of lawyers and and advisors we are comfortable that this model obviously ah was something which was blessed by them and you know the current regulations in India allow us to to sort of continue operating this right. And that has been a big focus area for us given the space we are operating in so beyond india this next market we entered was Mexico um, which was the second international market which we launched in and again there as well. We did the relevant regulatory work required to to get the. Get the right regulatory licenses and everything in place to be able to operate in Mexico and the third market was us us was a market we already missile in you know so we were already a licensed entity in the us which made it easier for us to sort of scale up in the Us. Um.
Pushkar Mukewar: As it stands now we operate in these 3 markets which is India mexico us and the focus will given that the the opportunity in these markets itself is very very large. Um at least over the course of the next twelve eighteen months the focus is to be continuously going deeper in these markets. Um, and and as we kind of look at other markets. We’ll also obviously have to figure out the right regulatory you know, ah regulatory compliance which we need to ensure we ah, we are in compliance with yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: And from a fundraising perspective. How much capital have you guys raised to date for the company.
Pushkar Mukewar: So um, we have 2 kinds of capital we need for scaling of a platform like this right? So on the equity front. Obviously the equity capital is required to of course scale up operations and and kind of build a business and then ah. The raw material for us is really the the debt capital or the capital which helps fund the assets which we originate now on the equity front. We have raised 4 rounds of institutional funding about 100 close to Ninety Ninety five million dollars so far. Our major investors are excel partners sequoia capital. Um, there’s a fund called wing um Ycombinator was one of our early backers initialized capital ah, last round. We also had a couple of strategic investors come in. You know our ti platform and you know ah Kopel so this is the equity side on the. Debt side or on the asset financing side. We’ve had a mix of both institutional and non-institutional investors. Um, we’ve worked with a bunch of high net with individuals family offices, certain smaller credit funds but on the institutional side. We have 2 major partners 1 is a community bank called Eastwest Bank and the second one is barclays and you know these are the 2 major funding partners. We’ve had who we kind of onboarded in the last about last eighteen months or so um, and yeah and I think that’s the site which we continue to scale up as we originate more and more and we continue to engage with all.
Pushkar Mukewar: All different banks and you know other kinds of institutions which are interested in the assets we originate? yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: And on the deb side. How much have you guys raised I didn’t I didn’t catch that.
Pushkar Mukewar: Ah, yeah, so in terms of capacity or or debt capital raise. It’s upwards of $5,700,000,000 yeah
Alejandro Cremades: Okay, got it and that you mentioned that that capital Obviously you know the equity site for the people that are listening is more for you know the business. The employees the operations but the debt capital is more for the actual business model not to be able to. Ah. Facilitate The the basically the services that you guys bring to to the end team. The customer Know. So um, so very very cool I mean obviously we see I’m sure that data has you know changed a little bit as you guys were you know getting getting you know, even more polished and polished as a company. But. But my God you know getting the people that you mentioned you know involved like seoia or a excel I mean we’re talking about some of the best investors in the World. You know for Startups. So How were you able to get those you know, especially since you know the operation was a little bit far away from the headquarters of these of these firms.
Pushkar Mukewar: Yeah, yeah, ah so the the good thing has been that you know, um because we were a global company I think for us. Um and some of these funds are global. So ah, we we actually had both their India and a Us team engage with us. Um, which I think kind of is the best of both worlds. We. We get both the perspectives. Um, so um, so I think ah, really the I mean you know obviously we went through the fundraising process like every startup does you know meeting a bunch of investors along the way. But I think um. What really in my view stuck with some of these investors is the is the scale of the opportunity we are going. We are going after right? I mean we were talking about small business credit. We were talking about global trade and we were looking at multiple markets and I think. Ah, that was what was perhaps the most exciting thing for them and I think combining that with the fact that you know both me and my cofounder had years of experience working within financial services as an industry. Um, you know, um, you know, sort of sort of headed right? And. Um, and yeah I think they’ve been great. Supporters. Great partners as we’ve kind of you know, embarked on this journey. They’re very actively involved in the company and have been advising us and ah been like great. You know, great folks to bounce off ideas.
Pushkar Mukewar: As we scale up the company to the next level. So.
Alejandro Cremades: So I Guess say as you’re now you know thinking about scaling the company and and taking it to the next level. You know obviously to all those investors you had to sell them on a vision you know and a compelling future that you were living into and um so imagine you were to go to sleep tonight push car and Team. You wake up in a world where the vision of Drift Capital is fully realized what does that world look like.
Pushkar Mukewar: Yeah, ah so um, the vision would be to really be the platform of choice for small businesses in in multiple markets to. To be a 1 ne-stop solution for addressing trade needs for these small businesses of course working capital is the core Dna. We have. That’s the business we’ve we’ve built and we continue to scale up. Um, but over time the vision would be to perhaps add other products and services which just makes the life of a small business easy. Um. Want to be continue. We want to continue building our global presence as I said the focus at least in the short term would be to continue going deeper in the markets we are operating in but we see opportunities multiple opportunities to expand. From our presence in let’s say Mexico to parts of Lattime South America we also see opportunities within Asia us itself is the largest buyer in the world. So you know there are obviously opportunities to to grow there. Um, but yeah that that would be the vision that you know if you are able to enable many many businesses small businesses to realize their full potential I think we would have been. We would be successful. Yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: And when it comes to scale. You know, especially I mean you were you were alluding to now that basically you guys have done like multiple runs of financings. You know when I think about a run of financing is basically you are bringing the right people that are going to help you unlock the next lifecycle of the business.
Pushkar Mukewar: Yeah, yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: So as you have you know gone from one cycle to the next with drip Capital I mean how how have you seen you know those challenges shift from one cycle to the other.
Pushkar Mukewar: Yeah, ah so you’re right I think initially you know we we wanted to get investors who were um who were at appropriate at that state. So for example, going through ycombinator was a great experience. They’re one of the best accelerators incubators. And it is great for us to sort of participate in that program. Um, and then I think as we went along. You know, getting more venture capitalists involved who are ah you know who are seeing the potential in in the opportunity we’re going after. And I would say more recently I think we’ve been engaging more with strategic investors who could help us unlock the next phase of growth and the kinds of investors we’re bringing on board so ti platform is one of the investors who were significant investors in our last round and they ran 1 of the largest. Lp platforms right? to connect it to a lot of insurance companies lot of institutional investors and that is is really one of the key areas for us to continue growing as we can we unlock more and more um investors on the supply side because ultimately you know that is. Also one of the constraints to growth that can we get more and more investors who are interested in in our kind of assets. Um, so bringing them on was super helpful. We also brought on board. Um a very large family office from from Mexico which will help us.
Pushkar Mukewar: Um, expand within Mexico as well as the broader Latam and South America region so I would say that as we think forward and we think about who would be the right set of investors for us I think. Yeah, the investors who would be right set for us will be some people who will be helping us on either the supply side or the demand side unlocking opportunities for us. Um, you know, um, those would be the right sort of investors. Yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: And then in terms of um in terms of so also of you know, taking a look at the at the past you know and and taking a look at the past with with a lens of reflection. You know if you know you see now you know incredible the wealth of knowledge. You know what? you guys have been able to accomplish with the business. If you were able to go back in time you know, let’s say I put you into a time machine and you’re able to go back in time perhaps to to have a sitdown you know with that younger pushcar that is you know coming out of one of those classes at Wharton and thinking about what kind of company you were going to build you know in the. The venture world and and that excitement ah of of living into that future. But let’s say now you’re right there with that younger push car and you’re able to give that younger push car 1 piece of a advice before launching a business. What would that be and Hawaii you know what? you know now. Okay.
Pushkar Mukewar: Um, interesting. Um, so one piece of advice would be definitely um, ah, kind of ah starts sooner. Um, than later I think. Ah, part of me, you know if I reflect like 10 years back I I just sort of you know, um I was too kind of afraid to take the plunge right? and and I kept procrastinating that decision on when to launch and what should I have before I launch right. For 3 4 five years I just kept thinking about it right? I think the ideal time for me to start would have been right to start during Wharton and I think the second key piece of advice I would give is that ah, the the most important and the best thing to do when you want to launch is just talk to your users right? I think. Lot of times. Um, you know us and mbas and ex-cons consultants you know tend to focus a lot on reading research reports or preparing pitch tech or market market studies right? and lot of it is I element at the end of the day I think what really matters is are you making something which which people are willing to pay for right? And only way to find that out is actually launch fast and if it’s okay, it fails right? But launch fast and talk to your users and I felt that during the early parts of trip. Um, we did spend or waste a lot of time you know doing things which didn’t really matter much you know.
Pushkar Mukewar: And what mattered really was the time we spent with our users. So.
Alejandro Cremades: I Love that now a push card for the people that are listening that would love to to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to to do so.
Pushkar Mukewar: Ah, so they can reach out to me on email pushka at dripcapitalital.com um yeah that would be the best way.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing, Well easy enough push car. Well hey, well thank you so much for being on the deal maker show. It has been an honor to have you with all of us. Okay.
Pushkar Mukewar: Great. Thank you, thank you and Android’s been a pleasure.
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