Interview With Manish Lunia

ISB alumnus Manish Lunia, along with his three friends came together to decode the idea of providing easy loans for SMEs with FlexiLoans. He handles the Credit underwriting and Risk management, Collections, Legal and Secretarial matters and Human resources portfolios at FlexiLoans. Manish has over 16 plus years of experience across wide range of Financial services (Lending, Broking, Wealth Management), Credit & Risk, Corporate Strategy and Execution, Mergers and Acquisitions and Telecom.  

 

With its footprint in 1000 cities and providing loans to over 6 crore SMEs Manish who is Co-Founder of Flexiloans shared his company's journey  with Human Capital.

 

Tell us about the journey of FlexiLoans’s and what makes it quite unique?

 

We founded FlexiLoans in 2016 as a fintech lending company. We offer small, unsecured loans across businesses in India. The average ticket size of loans is 3 to 4 lacs, beginning from 50,000 and this goes up to 1 crore. We believe that our USP is a ‘Partner Centric Approach’ through which we used to reach out to businesses that need loans. We have partnered with e-commerce websites like Flipkart and ShopClues, Amazon and PayTM. Presently, FlexiLoans has around 2 million active sellers in the country as partners and we get 60,000 leads in a month. So far, we have reached across 1000 cities in the country by providing loans to over 6 crore SMEs.

 

What is the employee size of FlexiLoans and how do you manage your offices across India?

 

When we started the operations, half of our workforce was interns. We were a team of 13, with seven interns among us. Today, we have grown to more than 250 people with our head office in Mumbai. There are seven people in Delhi who manage accounts and one in Bangalore to provide flexibility for our employees. Now, we have also received the Great place to work certificate in the Fintech lending category.

 

Are you looking to raise more funding? Is there any on-going funding phase at the moment?

 

We are in an on-going funding phase right now. Presently, we are at phase two. We have raised funds from 8 banks in NBFC funding (225crores), and we are looking to go up to 700 crores.

 

Do you feel that you have a unique technique or a product?

 

We don't have a unique product as such since it is a lending business, after all. But we have partnerships and propositions that are unique. There was an Amazon media article published few months ago, about how we are the first lender in the country to go API live with Amazon. This means that you can apply to FlexiLoans on the Amazon site, without visiting the flexiloans.com website.

 

What is FlexiLoans’s approach towards employee engagement?

 

In terms of employee engagement each month we plan an activity - like this month we are doing a walkathon, where there are 8 teams. The team captain will walk the highest in the team, and there are multiple challenges, like the green tea challenge, where the entire team should be in a selfie which has to be uploaded on social media. Apart from this, there are other engagement programs that we recently concluded involving women's safety. We also have an external POSH committee, where an external consultant openly discussed the nature of sexual harassment with 250 people and explaining to them their rights.

 

Data analytics is such a hot-button issue in the contemporary scenario, can you outline how FlexiLoans keep a track of employees satisfaction, happiness, wellness, the percentage of women employees in terms of technology?

 

Majority of my team-mates are below 26 and you' won't find more than 5 people who are more than 40 years old. Over 50% of employees are not from banking backgrounds and around 90% of the technology team is also not from the banking sector - we don't want the fixed mindset of banking people, as the entire organisation is focused towards serving the customer, ensuring that the business grows every day.

 

We have Menti meter, an anonymous mode of communication that provides an overall view of what your entire workforce is feeling. Here, people log in, can ask a question - what should we do next, or how are you feeling now? You will get three options - high, low, and don't know. We also get a chance to receive questions like - What's happening to the fundraise? When is the salary due? Why are there no chairs in the Conference room? These questions come from many departments, and we pick each question and solve the problem. In the process, we don't create rumours or gossip. This is how we create a unique culture.

 

Apart from this, we have a seamless punching system, online attendance, online salary slips, online policies and the holiday calendar, online compensation and chat rooms as well.


Can you elaborate FlexiLoans’s approach towards performance management and feedback?

 

Every time the HR touches an employee's perspective, we take feedback. When I interview, I ask, "How do you find the interview", rather than ask about right or wrong? At the end of every month, the new joiners and the co-founder have a meeting, which helps them to get to know each other. Then we ask questions like, why did you join FlexiLoans? What do you think about it now and then? What can be changed so early in our life as start-ups? And they will answer, "We never thought will get so much respect!" The feedback is taken in an informal manner, and in the early stages of their career, they will take an internal training. After this, we ask them which section they found relevant, did it help them or not? Whenever an employee finishes a year with us, we again take their feedback. The idea is to make the employees feel like owners. These are the various initiatives through which we improve the performance and monitor it. Another thing which is quite unique about our setup is that there is an 8 member HR team and the entire team is women. 

 

Nowadays, we have all the data manual, but leaders don't implement it. What would you say to a particular challenge like that and where does FlexiLoans stand when it comes to the percentage of implementation?

 

It would be fair to say that the intent is 100% and the exhibition is half. Though, the intent of OKR data is that an organisation changes data, policy, and targets every day. It's not always possible to set up everything to target all the time. But we decide in advance what the targets will be for every month, and we use data management systems to judge employee performance. We always communicate to the employees that you should not compare your performance with others' performance - your performance is yours alone.

 

I feel that it's a USP as well when employees are not compared to each other. Can you share your opinion on this?

 

Yes, every individual is different, so I feel that's our USP. We do it very objectively. Some people do not look at data fully because data demands changes and people don't like change. Rather, people want to be in control - but data takes away all the control from them! We have sales incentives aligned every month for junior staff. Here, the movement is based on data OKRM, so they know they have to hit their targets in 3 months. Thus, they get increased visibility to achieve their targets through data.

 

 

 

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