Indian Startups 101: How Payment Gateway Instamojo Built a Business by Bringing Small Businesses Online

Instamojo has over 1.2 million customers on board.

Indian Startups 101: How Payment Gateway Instamojo Built a Business by Bringing Small Businesses Online

Indian startup Instamojo is a provider of online payment processing solutions for businesses.

  • Instamojo’s esteemed clientele includes Urbanclap, Dunzo
  • The company has raised a total of $15.2 million in funding
  • Since COVID-19, Instamojo has seen 25-30 percent growth in business

A recent Nasscom survey said that the potential for SaaS-based businesses is tremendous in India, and Instamojo is a prime example of that. Founded in 2012, the payment gateway solutions provider has over 1.2 million customers, including big names like UrbanClap, 91 Springboard, Dunzo, Adani Realty, and more. Instamojo essentially allows any business owner to start selling their goods online, and collect digital payments through different modes. It also allows businesses to build their online stores easily, and customise and manage it through the mobile and web. Its biggest USP is the simple and quick setup process that is understandable to even an Internet apprentice. Instamojo also offers its clientele the ability to collect payment through different online modes like net banking, cards, email, SMS, WhatsApp, and even Facebook.    

Since COVID-19, Instamojo has seen 25-30 percent growth on its platform. From April onwards, Instamojo's customer base in the education sector has seen a massive 66.58 percent growth in online presence and transactions. Businesses that deal in computer accessories and services have seen a 95.4 percent growth in transactions, and B2B companies have seen a whopping 117.54 percent increase.  The food retails and services sector has also seen an 86.12 percent increase in online transactions.  

Instamojo says that transactions in the travel category saw a steep decline after April, but steady growth in the category has been witnessed in the month of August and September. The company says that there has been a 16x growth in travel volume and 3x growth in the number of transactions in travel businesses.  Instamojo plans to offer its services outside of India in the next few years. The current employee strength of the company is 130, and it is looking to hire more professionals in tech, product and design roles. 

Here's Instamojo by the numbers:

Instamojo table Instamojo

Experts opinion: Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst at research firm techARC says, “I think Instamojo brings in a lot of ease in making digital payments.  Though the tech and other elements are just like any other payment mode, they have somehow been able to position it in a way making digital payments very easy and simple.  The challenge they have is, in the recent couple of years a lot of alternatives have emerged like the Paytm.  I believe Instamojo would need some telecom operator collaboration to have a regular home base transacting.” 

Talking about the SaaS (Service as a sector) industry in general, P. N. Sudarshan, Partner, Deloitte India says, “India is going through mass digitization, which brings industry value chains into the digital fold enabling shared information exchange across the supply chain. Small and medium enterprises are integral part of our manufacturing and services industries in India, and to truly achieve the potential of mass digitization, it is necessary that small and medium enterprises access enterprise level software provisioned at flexible pricing models. SaaS as a business model is definitely well positioned to catalyse this change and cost-effective digital tools would help us move from a “data poor” to “data rich” economy. 

akash gehani Akash Gehani

Akash Gehani, COO and co-founder of Instamojo

We spoke to co-founder and COO of Instamojo, Akash Gehani, to know a bit more about the company's success story and its future plans.   

1) How did you think of this business idea? When did you finally take the leap of faith and make it official?  

This was a need felt by us founders, there was no convenient way for an individual to sell and collect money over the in1ternet. We could see that technology will play a big part in how a business runs over time, and wanted to do something to help small businesses leverage the internet. We believed that helping small businesses get on the internet to collect payments was the best stepping stone for them, and that idea made us take the leap. When we shared our idea with friends, there was a lot of enthusiasm. Many of them helped to get the word out there.  

2) Could you share some interesting stories about initial struggle days? How did you manage to overcome these struggles? What has it taught you?   

There was a time when business was not taking off, and it seemed like we will have to shut. And then some use cases just exploded for us, where our revenue grew >5x in one month, after being stagnant for a while. We were doubting ourselves, but post that a lot of belief and momentum came back. Also, partnering with banks was a struggle, since they didn't find this worthwhile, and saw it as very risky. With a lot of persistence and over many rejections, we finally were able to get going.  

3) Every successful startup has to deal with challenges that the outside world knows little about.  Would you please offer our readers some insight on one such incident?  

There have been other moments where we were running out of cash, but then had to dig deep, focus on all areas where we could extend our runway, and then managed to survive.  

4) What are the biggest milestones that Instamojo has crossed since its inception? Please offer details on them.  

One of our biggest milestones has been empowering 1 million merchants on the platform. The launch of our Capital and Shipping products helped us move to a full-stack platform for businesses, which was another big milestone. Becoming profitable recently, and especially during these Covid times, is also a big milestone.  

5) Could you please offer some details on the impact of COVID-19 on your business?  

Covid-19 has impacted many of our existing businesses, but they are reacting well to it. Moreover it has made adopting online tools imperative for many businesses out there. This is an irreversible change and has helped us acquire more merchants, which will bode well in the longer run. Since COVID-19, we have seen a 25-30 percent growth on our platform. 

6) Any advice for young Indian entrepreneurs out there?   

My only advice is to stay focused on the problem you're solving and your customers. Do not get distracted by competition, or start chasing vanity metrics, which many do since the focus changes from customers to investors. You have to be true to what motivated you to start the business, and stay aligned to it. 

7) What are the big plans in the future? Where does Instamojo see itself in the next five years?  

Our aim is to empower every individual and business to adopt the Internet to grow their business, and we will provide them with all the tools that they need for it. Instamojo will be synonymous with starting and growing the business. At the same time, we will be doing this in other countries across the world over the next few years. 


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