Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that the company has proposed to invest Rs 200 cr over the next five years as part of the Centre of Excellence and fintech accelerator programmes.

Anish Achuthan, Mabel Chacko, Deena Jacob and Ajeesh Achuthan
Atom Startups Tuesday, May 03, 2022 - 19:54

India on Monday, May 2, welcomed its 100th unicorn, which is Bengaluru-based neobank platform Open, which raised fresh funds as part of its Series D round, taking its valuation to $1 billion. The new round was led by Mumbai-based investment firm IIFL and existing investors Tiger Global, Temasek and 3one4 Capital also participated in the round, the company said in a statement.

A neo-banking platform for SMEs, Open has become the latest Indian startup to enter the elite club with a valuation of $1 billion. According to a statement, this is Kerala’s first unicorn. "This is indeed a proud day for Kerala startup ecosystem, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a video message.

The startup, which began its journey in Kerala and was part of the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM)  in its initial years, raised $50 million from IIFL Finance in its Series D round. The Series D round also saw participation from Open's existing investors, including Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek, US hedge fund Tiger Global, and 3one4 Capital. So far, Open has raised USD 140 million in funding.

KSUM is the nodal agency of the Kerala government for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state. A statement said that Open received Rs 2 crore from an early-stage fund of Rs 2 crore under KSUM's Fund of Funds programme, an official statement said.

Founded by Anish Achuthan, Mabel Chacko, Deena Jacob and Ajeesh Achuthan in 2017, the startup has partnerships with over a dozen top banks in India. Open also built Asia's first digital banking platform for SMEs, startups, and freelancers.

The Chief Minister said he was glad that as a tribute to the startup ecosystem in Kerala and in the spirit of giving back to the state, Open has decided to set up a fintech accelerator and a finishing school in collaboration with KSUM to support startups coming up with fintech solutions. "I believe this is just a beginning and that more unicorns will arise from Kerala and contribute to India's quest to emerge as the world's largest startup ecosystem," Vijayan said.

The Chief Minister added that the company has proposed to invest Rs 200 crore over the next five years as part of the Centre of Excellence and fintech accelerator programmes to bolster the state's startup ecosystem.

KSUM CEO John M Thomas congratulated the founders and said their achievement would bolster the confidence of startups in their efforts to break into new vistas of technology with their unique ideas.

"Open has proved the importance of providing innovative services and sustaining in-depth focus to attain growth in its niche sector. Kerala's fintech startups can emulate Open's success story. Their bagging of the top-notch honour in a highly competent milieu is a prime model for their peers," he added.

Open said it will use the fund to accelerate its existing product offerings Zwitch (embedded finance platform) and BankingStack (enterprise banking solution for banks), to drive global expansion and reach over five million customers within the next year.

The fintech startup will also use the capital to ramp up its leadership team, and increase its employee headcount from 500 to 1,000 within the year, it said.

Currently, Open is gearing up for the launch of three new products in the SME lending space: Open Flo (a revenue-based financing product for e-commerce businesses), Open Settl (an early settlement credit offering), and Open Capital (working capital lending offering for SMEs).

With inputs from agencies

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