Kerala got its first unicorn startup after the Fintech firm Open Financial Technologies, supported by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), recently raised 50 million from Mumbai-based IIFL Finance in a Series D funding round. A neo-banking platform for SMEs, the Kerala-based startup is India’s 100th unicorn, entering the ক্লা 1 billion elite club.
Founded in 2017 by Anish Achuthan, Mabel Chacko, Dina Jacob and Ajesh Achuthan, the startup has partnered with more than a dozen top banks in India. Open has created Asia’s first digital banking platform for SMEs, startups and freelancers. The Series D round also saw the participation of existing investors in the open, including Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Temasek, US hedge fund Tiger Global and 3one4 Capital. It has raised $ 140 million so far.
Under KSUM’s Fund of Funds program, Open received initial funding of Rs. 2 crore. KSUM is the nodal agency of the Government of Kerala for entrepreneurial development and incubation activities in the state. The state chief minister, Pinarayi Bijayan, lauded Open’s move to bring back the state by installing a Fintech accelerator in collaboration with KSUM and finishing school to support startups with Fintech solutions. To strengthen the state’s startup ecosystem, the company has proposed to invest Rs 200 crore over the next five years as part of the Center of Excellence and Fintech Accelerator programs, he added.
John M. Thomas, CEO, KSUM, said, “By providing innovative services and maintaining its focus, Open has achieved tremendous growth in its specialized sector. Kerala’s Fintech startups can emulate the success story of Open. Gaining the honor of being a Unicorn in a highly competitive environment, it will serve as a model for its peers. “
Open will use the funds raised to expand its existing product offerings – Zwitch (embedded finance platform) and BankingStack (enterprise banking solution for banks) – will expand globally and reach more than five million customers next year. The FinTech startup will also ramp up its leadership team and increase its number of employees from 500 to 1,000 over the years.
Open SME lending is set to launch three new products: Open Flow (a revenue-oriented financing product for ecommerce business), Open Settle (a preliminary settlement credit offer), and Open Capital (a working capital offer for SMEs).
Open’s platform adds more than 20,000 SMEs each month, making it one of the fastest growing SME-centric neo-banking services worldwide. It plans to expand to Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States.