Loans on the Till Roll

Gurjap Singh Iype Isac Arjun Shetty Adhil Shetty Rati Rajkumar Vimal Kumar

Bankbazaar proves that a great idea and hard work allow a start-up to survive its first year

In 2007, husband-wife duo Arjun Shetty and Rati Rajkumar, then working in the US, wanted to invest in a house in Chennai. Arjun and Rati went home loan-shopping for the best offers, grappling with fixed-versus-floating interest rates, daily-versus-monthly reducing balance. It was enough to put anyone off.

Arjun, a Masters in operations research from Georgia Institute of Technology, who was working at amazon.com's credit card division in Seattle, decided to do something about it. He talked to his brother Adhil, an engineer and a Masters in International Relations from Columbia University who was working as a consultant with Deloitte, New York. After due diligence, the entrepreneurial trio commenced their venture in early 2008, pooling their savings.

Their first challenge: talent acquisition. "When we started, there was not much we could give in terms of pay. We could only offer an opportunity to work in an exciting venture and do something never done before in India," says Arjun, who handles operations.

Three of Arjun's colleagues from Amazon, talented engineers, soon joined. Iype Isac, working for Microsoft in the US came to Chennai on a holiday, and never went back. The crack team was ready for the company christened Loandukaan.

"We wanted it to be a platform for the best loan deals, like makemytrip.com is for airline tickets. With just a click of the mouse, a customer should know everything about the loan products available and get the best deal at the lowest rates available. We wanted to interface with banks and enable them to approve an application online, quickening the process," says Rati, chief product officer.

That was not going to be easy, as 2008 witnessed one of the worst financial crises. How did these young entrepreneurs, the eldest of whom is in the early 30s, go about convincing grey-haired bankers? "Bankers are, by nature, conservative. Our strength was in our process technology. It was developed entirely by the engineering team. We have even patented it," says Adhil, the CEO.

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