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Lendingkart: India’s Leading Digital SMB Fintech Lender

Lendingkart logo against a green textured background

As we started looking at the fintech lending market in India, we saw that the opportunity was in the under-penetrated SMB market. For decades, the incumbent banking system has been unable to cater to this demand for a variety of reasons. At the same time, the opportunity at hand is pegged at ~$600 billion in terms of total SMB sector demand for capital. This essentially meant that we needed to invest in a team that approached the problem differently with a technology first mindset: a fintech company which could evaluate credit, acquire customers online and match collection figures, leveraging technology in a cost-efficient manner. 

When we met the founding team at Lendingkart, we appreciated their technology-forward approach to solving the SMB credit problem. As we delved deeper into the team’s plans on catering to this market, we were convinced that Lendingkart had a huge opportunity to become a market leader.  

Over time, Lendingkart has emerged as India’s leading online lending company dedicated to providing entrepreneurs and small businesses with debt capital for working capital requirements. The team applies big data and analytics to evaluate a borrower’s creditworthiness. The company started operations by targeting sellers in the fast-growing ecommerce industry; however, over time, it has expanded across multiple other sectors including apparel, computers, mobile phones and FMCG.  

Since inception, Lendingkart has disbursed over $1 billion in loans across 1300+ cities in India, giving it the largest geographical digital footprint in the country. In addition to its lending product, the company now also cross-sells products such as gold loans, insurance products and other lending products through partners.  

Lendingkart has also developed a tech-led co-lending platform called 2gthr, where third party lenders like banks and non-bank lenders can co-lend with Lendingkart while the platform originates, underwrites and undertakes collections of the loan. This is a crucial development as it now puts Lendingkart on track to becoming a transaction-based, asset-light business, thereby enabling potential for rapid scale.  

With India now being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, its 75 million SMBs are going to continually require capital support to grow their businesses. We believe that Lendingkart is primed to aid the SMBs of India and continue its journey to becoming one of the largest fintech digital lenders of the country.  

Mayfield India’s Entrepreneurs Seize the Day

Amagi, EatClub, Leap, Licious, Simplilearn and Mayfield logos displayed on colorful background

The potential of India’s early stage and venture market is now beginning to bear fruit. Over the last decade, we have seen India’s lack of infrastructure transform from a hindrance to  the country’s growth into a stunning opportunity for smart founders to create value for themselves and their investors. This trend has been the same across verticals, whether it be telecoms, retail, healthcare or mobility. By bringing the latest technology to solve decades-old infrastructure bottlenecks we are seeing India emerge as a country that is leapfrogging other countries and providing its people best in class products and services. From an investor’s perspective, the best thing is that this seems to be just the beginning, and that there is still a long way to go before these opportunities dry up.

In addition to lack of infrastructure creating opportunities, there are other areas that play to India’s strengths. First, India’s leadership in the software services space continues to strengthen. What started in the mid 1990’s as a reaction to the y2k bug has now grown to a large industry leveraging India’s large trained workforce, competitive costs and world-class software services infrastructure. These advantages continue to create new opportunities in different spaces, including SaaS, cloud and services. Additionally, we are starting to see the commercialisation of leading-edge science and engineering breakthroughs in India itself, which is creating a host of new and exciting opportunities. Finally, as the Indian consumer matures, new opportunities are being created by new-age brands and direct to consumer products or services. 

All of these excite us tremendously at Mayfield and we are firm believers that these trends will show us exciting new opportunities in the years to come. At the same time, we have already seen some of this bear fruit in our portfolio.

Simplilearn, an EdTech play which provides certification courses to the world, turned its business around by moving from classroom training to online only with the Mayfield-led investment round in 2015. By the time Mayfield successfully sold its stake in a buyout transaction, the company had served over two million students across 150+ countries following 6 years of steady growth.. The incoming buyout fund, Blackstone India, was very happy to take the baton as they saw there were still many growth opportunities ahead for the company.

LEAP, another early investment from our second fund, has grown on the back of evolving retail trade. India’s internet and e-commerce penetration continues to grow, and this necessitates a change in the way back-ends work. Where goods used to be delivered to small mom and pop shops, they now need to be moved in bulk to huge warehouses in first-mile distribution, and in turn to meticulously planned mid-mile warehouse networks. This large magnitude of material handling requires pallets. LEAP has emerged as the largest pallet provider in India and has seen large growth due to this demand. Today, the company has almost all the large B2C and B2B eCommerce companies on its client roster. As online commerce grows over 10x to an estimated $800 billion in 2030, we believe demand for pallets will continue on the same trajectory that has already made this company a market leader.

Licious has benefitted from many trends. As India becomes wealthier and more discerning, people want to eat better food. With its direct to home fresh meat product, Licious was at the right place at the right time to cater to this need. This, coupled with the fact that India’s meat markets were stuck firmly in the past and still operated as unhygienic ‘wet markets’, helped Licious grow from small beginnings to India’s largest meat brand with annual revenues in excess of $100 million. As the first institutional investors in this company, we have had a front row seat on their journey and we are happy to remain invested in Licious as it embarks on its next stage of growth.

Amagi, similar to Simplilearn, is another company in the Mayfield portfolio that was able to build a world-class product from India for the world. When Mayfield first partnered with the company over 8 years ago, Amagi had one tech product and a handful of customers in the Indian television ad-sales market. Over the years, the founders continued to innovate on building a whole bouquet of media-tech products and were also savvy enough to spot the opportunity to be at the forefront of global change. The distribution end of the global media tech world was ready to be transformed from satellite to ‘cloud playouts’. Amagi catalyzed, if not led, this industry transformation. The company’s SaaS annual recurring revenue grew ~7x in 3 years running up to Mayfield’s exit.

EatClub is another business in the food space in India. Similar to Licious, EatClub has also benefited from Indian consumers’ changing tastes and desire to have high quality products , delivered to their doorsteps at a fair price. From an early start serving Indian meals in a box under the brand of Box8, the company now has eight separate brands serving Indian meals, rice bowls, wraps, pizzas and desserts. All of these brands share back-end synergies which allow the company to provide its customers with a wide range of products at price and quality points that consistently delight.

As we continue on our investment journey in India, we are heartened by our successes and tremendously excited by the opportunities that lie ahead of us.

Licious turns Unicorn with a $52 Million Raise

Licious logo against a purple background

We first met the Licious team in 2015 when it was little more than an idea to deliver the freshest meat, chicken and fish directly to Indian consumers. I had just built my thesis around changing Indian food habits – I believed (and still believe) that as Indian consumers become more affluent, they become more discerning about the quality of food at the table. This applies particularly to protein. With this background, when Subeer Monga and I met Licious for the first time we were impressed with the founders’ obsession for delivering the best product and building a movement around it. While the company was only delivering 4,000 orders per month and generating sales of less than $30,000 per month, both team members felt the company had immense disruptive potential. The founders, Abhay Hanjura and Vivek Gupta, had that rare passion to succeed with their dream and, equally importantly, the ability to execute on it. We were the only institutional investors in their first funding round back in late 2015.

Once I got onto the board, one of the first things we did was to work with the founders to try to build the Licious ‘back-story’. The company was revolutionizing the animal protein industry in India and moving consumers away from wet markets to hygienically prepared and packed products that could be traced right back to source. We felt that this was a story worth telling as it played exactly to what the Indian consumer wanted. The resulting campaign firmly fixed the company in the mind of consumers as the premier supplier of fresh animal protein in the country.

Abhay and Vivek have continually been at the forefront of the industry. They have built world-class processing plants and have consistently hired best-in-class team members to continue to grow the company.

When Covid hit, the company undertook extraordinary measures to keep its customers supplied with their favorite protein products in a safe manner. The company booked entire hotels for employees to be housed and quarantined, and delivery staff were among the first to be vaccinated.  Licious’ loyal customers responded gratefully. The company has grown over 4x from March 2020. Today, this strong brand loyalty has translated into a repeat rate of almost 85%, propelling Licious’ continued growth trajectory.

While at the beginning Licious only supplied fresh meat to a small number of localities in Bengaluru, the company now has multiple categories including fresh, ready to cook, ready to eat, and dips & spreads. Licious is available in 14 cities across India and the company is considering a regional strategy and non-traditional protein products for its next phase of growth.

Vivek Gupta, Co-founder of Licious reflects: “Seven years does not seem like a long time for a start-up, but it has been a journey from our small beginnings to our current round where we have achieved unicorn status. We are very grateful to Nikhil and Mayfield for believing in us before anyone else did and mentoring us through our growth journey.”

Abhay Hanjura. Licious Co-founder adds: “Nikhil was the one always asking us the existentialist questions, making sure that we remained true to our beliefs in our journey to build the first and largest animal protein brand in India today. Our journey has hit some interesting milestones but we believe the larger story is still to be played out and we are very excited to share this journey with Mayfield.”

2021 Year in Review – Celebrating Founders & Conscious Leaders

2021 was powered by the pioneering spirit of entrepreneurs everywhere. They invented new ways for us to work, live and play, in a world that remained mostly remote.
Enterprise focused entrepreneurs made us even more productive in a multi-cloud, dev-centric and silicon-powered world. Consumer-focused ones allowed us to engage in authentic social connections and enabled us to transact our everyday lives from our fingertips. As the climate crisis escalated, human and planetary health focused entrepreneurs delivered on their promise to re-invent trillion dollar industries and to build a better world for our generation and the next ones. Entrepreneurs were amply rewarded by private and public market investors, with new unicorns being born every day. Amidst all this innovation, it has never been more important to remain conscious leaders who are committed to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion.

Partnering with Swimply to Pioneer a New Era in the Sharing Economy

Two people smiling on blue textured background with Swimply logo

Having partnered early  with Logan Green and John Zimmer of Lyft as well as Manish Chandra and his team at Poshmark, we are big believers in the sharing economy. These companies, along with Airbnb, are sharing economy pioneers who innovated around ridesharing, social commerce, and travel. Today we are excited to announce that we have led a $40 million Series A and partnered with Bunim Laskin and Asher Weinberger, co-founders of Swimply, whose vision is to pioneer a new era in the sharing economy, that of going beyond transactional interactions to power local experiences which bring communities closer together. 

Similar to Logan and John whose vision was to improve people’s lives by providing the best transportation and Manish and team whose vision was to create the category of social commerce, Bunim and Asher have a big vision for Swimply. They plan to grow it into the go-to marketplace that helps homeowners share passion spaces with their local communities and democratizes access to joyful spaces that are typically reserved for the well-to-do.  

The company was founded in 2018 with its first target as the swimming pool sharing market, estimated at $52B. Since then, Swimply has grown into the category leader, and has just concluded a banner year during which it grew in hosts, usage, and most importantly, community engagement. With Bunim and Asher’s aspiration to expand to other outdoor and indoor *joyspaces* such as hot tubs, tennis courts, barbecue pits, home gyms and the like, their journey has just begun. 

Swimply embodies some of our core beliefs as a people-first investor including:

Mission and values count

Bunim is a 24 year old first-time founder who started Swimply from his lived experience of accessing a neighbor’s pool to provide his 11 younger siblings a safe and healthy summer they otherwise couldn’t afford. Asher brings experience as an entrepreneur, business leader and a pool owner himself. 

Together they have united behind their vision of expanding the realms of the sharing economy and creating a new category within local experiences. Swimply is democratizing ownership of recreational space by allowing hosts to share underutilized assets with their communities, giving easy access to those in need.

Every passion needs a space and Swimply aims to connect passionate people with incredible spaces in which they can celebrate, create and escape with the people they love, in a way they could never have before.

Startups die of indigestion, not starvation

Bunim and Asher have been hyper focused initially on fulfilling community needs for accessing water-based joyspaces. They started with pool sharing as it was an underutilized asset (similar to John’s insight about cars) with 96% of people having no access to pools despite it being the #1 family rated activity, while pools are unused 95% of the time. They rolled out the well known repeatable marketplace playbook, similar to how Poshmark nurtured its seller stylists, by providing hosts booking tools, liability insurance, and complete control over how they welcomed guests. As a result, hosts are not only earning 10s of 1000s of dollars, but a 4.5 star host satisfaction rating and five star user ratings has underscored how this is an emotionally rewarding vs. transactional experience. At the same time, their marketing costs are low as repeat guests are organically recommending the experience and bringing friends along. Today, Swimply has grown into an innovative experience for family getaways, pool parties, exercise, photo shoots, pet swims, and more. 2021 was a banner year on all fronts: they put 1 million people inside pools; booked 250k hours; activated 15k pools; and their top host earned over $200k.

Company building is a marathon, not a sprint

Bunim and Asher inspired us with their vision to build a new category of user experiences which combine the marketplace efficiency of Airbnb or Poshmark, generate more revenue with a lower time commitment than Lyft or Instacart, while forging stronger bonds in local communities. We believe this vision, the founders passion, and their proven business model will allow Swimply to grow into a vanguard of the new era of the sharing economy.

We welcome Swimply to the Mayfield family, along with our co-investors from Norwest, GGV Capital, Ensemble Ventures, and angel investors including Manish Chandra/Poshmark, Brad Bao/Lime, Casey Winters/Pinterest, Fidji Simo/Instacart, and Robert Chestnut/Airbnb.

HashiCorp IPO – A Playbook to Building a Platform Company

We first met Armon and Mitchell in 2014. They were twenty-something, open source superstars whose products had been downloaded by millions of developers. They had made the decision to found a company to realize their mission of making enterprise infrastructure delightful in the cloud era. We led their $10 million Series A that year and as we have watched their journey to build HashiCorp into the platform company for the multi-cloud age, I was struck by our reasons for partnering with them, which hold true until today.

EQ is an elusive concept but you know it when you see it

As co-founders, Armon and Mitchell have always been self-aware, authentic in their relationships, and 100% focused on elevating the practitioner. We were struck by their forthright style, healthy co-founder dynamic, and their *eyes on the prize* clarity. So when they decided to bring in Dave McJannet as a business leader CEO, and transition into the co-CTO roles, a rare move for founders, it followed naturally from their thinking. Under his leadership, HashiCorp has grown exponentially, while allowing each core player to focus on their superpower. Their people-first approach, which mirrors our philosophy at Mayfield, has scaled as they grew into 1000s of employees spread out over many locations over the world.

Diversity cannot be an afterthought

As young founders with non-traditional backgrounds of being Iranian-American and Japanese-American, Armon and Mitchell had lived the *being different* experience. From day 1, they built diversity into the DNA of the culture, establishing HashiCorp as a remote-first company before it became a mainstream model, and codifying an inclusive culture so employees could bring their whole selves to work, which Armon discusses in this podcast with me. This commitment to DEI has powered their ability to attract world-class talent from all over the globe.

Rise of the Individual is a powerful movement

HashiCorp recognized that the mind-numbing way infrastructure software and services were being deployed had to change to accommodate the creativity of the practitioner doing it. They stayed true to their mission by building products that both delighted the developer and elevated them to a strategic role in their company. Building on that movement, which I call the Rise of the Individual, they ignited a loyal community which numbers in the millions today.

The PLG era is a force multiplier

By building open source software with many contributors and products that *sell themselves*, i.e. they are downloaded and deployed by practitioners and then paid for by buyers who have budgets in those same companies, now referred to commonly as COSS (commercial open source model), HashiCorp has gained a huge GTM advantage as a result. They have built on this foundation to innovate on the business model further by having a cloud offering now which is a subscription service.

Company building is a marathon, not a sprint

This is our core belief and observation at Mayfield having worked with 100s of inception-stage founders, including those at Lyft, Poshmark, Outreach, Mammoth, Tonal and others. HashiCorp was founded almost 10 years ago, and over the last decade, they have methodically innovated on product lines, GTM models, geographic expansion, and more, all while staying true to their core mission and values. Today’s public offering is just the latest milestone in their journey from inception to iconic company and one in which it has been an honor to have been along for the ride. Congrats to Dave, Armon, Mitchell and the entire HashiCorp team.