KOCHI: Chillr was conceptualised within MobME (parent company) and spun off as a subsidiary a year later in 2014. It then tied up with HDFC Bank and launched the mobile application on the Google Play Store in February 2015. Today, Chillr has 11 partner banks on IMPS and over 35 banks on UPI.
Chillr differs from online wallets as all fund transactions are between bank accounts. “The banking system in our country is old and it required innovation to fix basic gaps. Sending and receiving money is the most basic need for anyone with a bank account. The hassles we faced in our college days is what inspired us to think out-of-the-box for an easier, faster yet safer way to handle day-to-day transactions,” says Sony Joy, co-founder and CEO of Chillr.
The other founders of the startup are Mohamed Ghalib and Lishoy Bhaskaran. Former Engineering Vice President of MobME, Anoop Sankar is also part of the team.
The company was started with a seed fund of $1 million from MobME. Later, it went for Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital and raised a total of $7.5 million from Blume, Unicorn ventures and other angel investors.
Narrating the ‘Newton moment’, Sony says, “We got in touch with a dozen banks for partnership, mostly smaller ones, as we assumed they would be more open to experimenting. But to our surprise, it was the opposite. Smaller banks hesitated to try something new like Chillr. When we pitched to HDFC Bank’s top management, they were excited with the idea and decided to take it forward. We entered into a formal partnership in September 2014 and launched in February 2015”.
Chillr’s main features are instant bank-to-bank money transfers, recharges and bill payments. All these transactions are carried out directly from the user’s bank account. Apart from that, there are features like request money, split bills, Ola money wallet and bookmyshow wallet top-ups and insurance premium payments.
“We have already launched Chillr credit for a set of users. It is a digitally disbursed micro-loan that users can apply for. Our plans are to scale it up in the future. Our aim is to evolve into an integrated financial services and banking platform. We are also coming up with in-app services like hotel, flight, bus bookings and deals and discounts,” says Mohamed Ghalib. The company expects around 1.5 crore customers on-board the platform by 2017-18. As per company sources, its annual transaction rate is also expected to go up from $1 billion per annum currently to $12 billion in the near future.
Sony considers Elon Musk and Richard Branson as his inspirational figures. For him, partnering with HDFC, receiving funding in Series A from Sequoia Capital and moving to their new Bandra office in 2016 were some of the significant moments in Chillr’s history.
“My only advice for wannabe entrepreneurs is to be patient and positive. Keep holding on to your dream and never let anything pull you down,” Sony signs off.