How This 23-Year-Old IITian Became the Youngest Among the Richest Self-Made Indians

The story of Shashvat Nakrani, co-founder of BharatPe, is an extraordinary tale of youthful ambition, innovative thinking, and entrepreneurial success. At just 23 years old, this IITian has become one of the youngest self-made millionaires in India, revolutionizing the fintech space with his disruptive startup.

Identifying the Opportunity:

In 2018, Shashvat Nakrani, while still a student at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, noticed a significant gap in the payment solutions available to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in India. The existing systems were complex, costly, and often required multiple platforms to handle different types of transactions. Shashvat saw an opportunity to simplify digital payments for merchants by offering a unified QR code-based payment solution.

The Birth of BharatPe:

Recognizing the potential to transform the payment landscape, Shashvat teamed up with Ashneer Grover, an experienced banker and investor, to launch BharatPe in 2018. The startup aimed to empower millions of SMBs across India by providing them with a simple, efficient, and cost-effective digital payments solution.

BharatPe introduced the concept of interoperable QR codes, which allowed merchants to accept payments from all major digital wallets and UPI apps through a single QR code. This innovation was a game-changer, as it eliminated the need for multiple QR codes and streamlined the payment process for both merchants and customers.

Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Growth:

Building BharatPe from scratch was no easy task. The company faced numerous challenges, including intense competition from established players in the fintech space and the task of educating merchants about the benefits of digital payments. However, Shashvat’s deep understanding of technology and Ashneer’s financial expertise helped them navigate these obstacles.

BharatPe focused on building trust and relationships with merchants by offering zero transaction fees and providing quick settlements, which were crucial for small businesses. Their merchant-first approach and relentless focus on customer satisfaction helped BharatPe rapidly gain traction.

Strategic Partnerships and Expansion:

To fuel its growth, BharatPe raised multiple rounds of funding from prominent investors such as Sequoia Capital, Insight Partners, and Coatue Management. These investments enabled the company to scale its operations, enhance its technology platform, and expand its merchant network across India.

BharatPe also formed strategic partnerships with financial institutions and payment networks to strengthen its offerings and provide additional value to merchants. These collaborations helped BharatPe extend its reach and solidify its position as a leading player in the digital payments space.

Achieving a Historic Milestone:

In 2021, BharatPe achieved a significant milestone by becoming a unicorn with a valuation exceeding $1 billion. This remarkable achievement underscored the company’s rapid growth and the immense potential of its innovative solutions. Shashvat Nakrani, at just 23 years old, became the youngest self-made millionaire in India, joining the ranks of the country’s wealthiest entrepreneurs.

Takeaways for Future Startups:

  1. Identify and Solve Real Problems: BharatPe’s success lies in its ability to address the pain points of SMBs in digital payments. Future startups should focus on solving genuine problems to create meaningful value.
  2. Innovate and Simplify: BharatPe’s introduction of interoperable QR codes simplified the payment process for merchants and customers. Startups should aim to innovate and simplify solutions to enhance user experiences.
  3. Build Trust and Relationships: BharatPe’s merchant-first approach helped build trust and loyalty among its users. Startups should prioritize building strong relationships with their customers and stakeholders.
  4. Leverage Strategic Investments: BharatPe’s growth was fueled by strategic investments from prominent investors. Startups should seek funding that aligns with their growth objectives and adds strategic value.
  5. Stay Resilient and Adaptable: BharatPe’s journey involved overcoming numerous challenges and adapting to a competitive market. Startups should remain resilient and adaptable to navigate the evolving business landscape.

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