HomeFinanceAn interview with Raj N. Phani, Founder & Chairman of Zaggle

An interview with Raj N. Phani, Founder & Chairman of Zaggle



When it comes to a FinTech company that is working towards helping corporates to maximize their business potential through digitizing and analyzing the spending, Zaggle will always lead from the front.

Today we are interviewing a man who turned the idea into a million-dollar company, Mr. Raj N Phani, Founder and Chairman of Zaggle and the author of a book named ‘Made in Hyderabad.’

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TechGraph (TG): Can you briefly introduce Zaggle to our readers?

Raj Phani: Zaggle is a fintech company that focuses on businesses and SMEs. We started the company in 2011, with the vision to design proprietary tech platforms that connect corporate and consumer requirements with merchants who have the best-suited solutions for them.

TG: Can you tell us the story behind Zaggle and how you came up with this name?

Raj: Interestingly, the word ‘Zaggle’ stands as an antidote to ‘Haggle’ and when customers started searching for a solution that would enable them to interact with the merchants while bringing them savings and experiences seamlessly, providing for limitless choices and flexibility, Zaggle was born.

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TG: While researching about Zaggle our editorial team stumbled upon, there are different products available on the platform, can you explain more about this?

Raj: Yes, if you go to our platform you will find different products such as Zaggle Propel, Zaggle Edge, Zaggle Save, and Zaggle Select. We have designed different products according to the day-to-day needs of the corporations.

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Zaggle Save: An all in one business expense management and employee reimbursement platform that helps businesses unlock value and helps their employees save taxes and manage their expenses better.

Zaggle Propel is an Integrated Platform for Workforce Reward, Recognition, Engagement, and state of the art AI-powered Performance Management.

Zaggle Propel helps organizations align their people to the company’s goals. It is achieved by providing a platform that maps employee productivity with organizational values and goals to propel organizational growth and create a culture of recognition.

Our scientifically designed performance management tools give the organizations the flexibility to create custom goals that suit every team in an organization.

Zaggle Propel has a comprehensive library of Plug & Play frameworks for Employee & Partner programs. Motivated employees and partners deliver 9x more value than others.

Zaggle Propel supports rewarding and recognition through workflows like Nomination, Target-based, Peer to Peer, Goal and Performance Management.

Redemption is on the go through the Mobile App and Real-Time Dashboards to monitor the reward spends. It also enables redemption of local rewards in 25+ countries by the use of the Multi-Currency Wallet.

Zaggle uses Deep Tech and Artificial Intelligence to provide platform solutions to businesses for Expense Management & Employee Reimbursements as well as for Rewards & Recognition. Zaggle is working with several Banks, including FinTech companies to build a state-of-the-art Open Banking Platform for Small & Medium-size Businesses (SMBs).

Zaggle deploys cutting edge technologies AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning) and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to provide a seamless experience to businesses and users.

Zaggle works currently with three banks: RBL Bank, IndusInd, and YES Bank and works closely with VISA, RuPay and MasterCard Networks to craft these solutions and to constantly innovate to bring value to its users.

TG: What do you think about the recent coronavirus outbreak? Do you think that it will affect the fintech companies?

Raj: I think various countries, especially countries that are badly hit by China. If you look at FinTech, China is by far the leader followed by the U.S. and others are way behind.

If these countries are affected, then FinTech would more surely get affected i.e. in terms of investment coming into FinTech and also in terms of collaboration efforts, which will see some bit of postponement.

The third impact is that if China slows down, the world will slow down. Hence, this impact is pretty visible. The other impact will be that hiring will get affected and there will be a slowdown that will be seen in the coming months.

TG: How do you look at the recent budget passed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman?

Raj: The Government has proposed the New Tax Structure and also allowed to continue with the Old Tax Structure. In the New Tax Structure, there is nothing Beneficial to Tax Payers below INR 16 Lakhs which constitutes a large part of the population.

Now, the point is that in India, the majority of the population is earning Rs 6 lakh – 15 lakh what are the benefits to them? You know every Indian wants to earn the money at least in small savings, in health insurance or life insurance or some standard deductions.

Hence the average Indian is not benefitting from this if they are earning a salary between this bracket.

TG: As a founder of a startup, how do you look at the ESOPS policy change made by the government in this budget?

Raj: Coming to ESOPS – What the Center has done is, you will get five years to pay tax but it is only to those companies which are registered under the startup program.

In India, there are over a few lakh startups and every year over 13,000 startups are being launched. But only 200 startups are registered under the program. Then what is the point of ESOPS?

How will small companies attract talent? We cannot pay crores of rupees to senior executive-level candidates. They are unable to attract talents in some percentage of the company.

In some cases, we want a tax-free system- so what the government has done is they have put some deferred tax, but to be frank, it will only help a few hundred companies. Then what sense does it make? Hume Mila Bhi Aur Mila Bhi Nahi – means “Even after getting it we got nothing,” It was a complete eyewash.

TG: Coming back on Zaggle, where does the company stand in terms of probability metric?

Raj: Zaggle today has more than 4.5 million cards in the market and we are working with 3,000+ corporates including some Fortune 500 companies.

Till December, we will take our EBITDA positive and we will be very close to showing our net profit this year. We still have 25 days on hand to go and we are hoping to turn profitably at the net level, but it is not that the loss will be an absolute little.

Look, one thing is very clear: whether it is FinTech or Non-FinTech, the current atmosphere is to be profitable.

We will move some pre-paid cards for offerings, there would be cards and software on our platform.

As a platform approach; If you look at Zaggle, we charge clients a software fee – for a one-time solution. We also charge users per user per month, and every time we use the card, we get interchange and the float lying there we earn money on the floor test.

If you ask me, now we have to realize that for every penny we have to work for and ensure the market in a year or a year and a half, you will see the companies which are moving towards profitability, and the rest of the company will close down.

TG: Zaggle has launched multiple products for different vertices. Can you let us know which one of them is a revenue generator for the company?

Raj: Some of the products did not work as expected, but some did very well. The product which is doing very well is our Expense Management and goes by the name of Zaggle SAVE.

Our profitability is very high in the expense management system and the beauty is we are witnessing the transaction every second.

TG: Is there any expansion?

Raj: Yes, if you look at geographical expansion, our London office is opening in the third week of April and our Canada office is opening in the second week of March.

We are planning for the expansion, we have recently signed up a partnership in the Middle East, and we are also planning to expand our services in Singapore and the United States in the coming years.

TG: Is there any plan to go for an IPO, in the coming years?

Raj: Currently, IPO may or may not be the perfect fit, but we are looking to raise funding in the next six months.

TG: Is there any plan for entering a new market?

Raj: Yes, we are planning to launch open banking in the next three months and we are planning to take our open banking service in Canada and London very soon.


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Krishna Mali
Krishna Mali
Founder, CEO & Group Editor of TechGraph.

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