How This Woman Built a Million-Dollar Startup with Her Husband

The journey of MobiKwik, a leading digital wallet and financial services platform in India, is a story of vision, resilience, and partnership. Founded by Upasana Taku, a Stanford graduate, and her husband Bipin Preet Singh, MobiKwik has grown from a small startup to a multi-million dollar enterprise, transforming the way millions of Indians handle digital payments.

Identifying the Opportunity:

In 2009, Upasana Taku, who had an impressive background with stints at PayPal and HSBC, saw a significant opportunity in India’s evolving digital landscape. Despite the rapid growth of mobile phone usage, digital payments were still in their infancy. Upasana and Bipin recognized the potential to simplify and streamline mobile recharges and bill payments through a digital wallet.

The Birth of MobiKwik:

Bipin Preet Singh, an IIT Delhi alumnus, initially started MobiKwik in 2009 as a website to make prepaid mobile recharges easy. Upasana joined him in 2010, bringing her expertise in payments and her vision for expanding the service into a full-fledged digital wallet. Their combined efforts led to the creation of MobiKwik as a comprehensive platform for digital payments.

Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Growth:

Building MobiKwik from the ground up was not without its challenges. The early days were tough, with limited funding and a market that was still warming up to digital payments. However, Upasana and Bipin’s complementary skills and unwavering commitment helped them navigate these challenges.

One of the key strategies that propelled MobiKwik’s growth was their focus on creating a user-friendly experience and building trust among users. They ensured that the platform was secure, easy to use, and offered real value to customers. Their efforts paid off as MobiKwik started gaining traction and attracting a growing number of users.

Strategic Partnerships and Expansion:

As MobiKwik’s user base grew, the company formed strategic partnerships with various merchants and service providers, expanding the range of services available on the platform. This included partnerships with e-commerce companies, utility providers, and retail stores, allowing users to make a wide variety of payments through MobiKwik.

In addition to expanding their services, MobiKwik also raised several rounds of funding from prominent investors, including Sequoia Capital, American Express, and Tree Line Asia. These investments enabled the company to enhance its technology, scale its operations, and compete with other players in the digital payments space.

Adapting to Market Changes:

MobiKwik’s ability to adapt to changing market conditions has been crucial to its success. The company has continuously evolved its offerings to meet the needs of its users. This includes launching a suite of financial services such as loans, insurance, and investments, positioning MobiKwik as a comprehensive financial services platform.

The demonetization move by the Indian government in 2016 was a significant turning point for digital payments in India. MobiKwik was well-positioned to capitalize on this shift as more people turned to digital wallets for their transactions. The company saw a surge in user adoption and transaction volumes during this period.

Takeaways for Future Startups:

  1. Identify Emerging Opportunities: MobiKwik’s founders recognized the potential of digital payments in a rapidly evolving market. Future startups should be vigilant in identifying and seizing emerging opportunities in their industries.
  2. Leverage Complementary Skills: Upasana and Bipin’s complementary skills in payments and technology were crucial to MobiKwik’s success. Founders should seek partners who bring diverse and complementary expertise to the table.
  3. Focus on User Experience: MobiKwik’s emphasis on creating a secure and user-friendly platform helped build trust and loyalty among users. Startups should prioritize user experience to drive adoption and retention.
  4. Form Strategic Partnerships: MobiKwik’s partnerships with merchants and service providers expanded its value proposition. Startups should consider strategic partnerships to enhance their offerings and reach.
  5. Adapt and Evolve: MobiKwik’s ability to adapt to market changes, such as demonetization, was key to its growth. Startups should remain flexible and be prepared to pivot in response to market dynamics.

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