During my first conversation with Ateet, I figured that he is both a passionate entrepreneur and a perfectionist! Definitely two qualities that go a long way in running a successful business. With an MBA degree from Nirma University and having about 7 years of experience in International Trade, he sure has his footing strong in business. He started Start51.com, a creative fund platform that transforms unique ideas into reality. The crowd-funding platform runs with an aim of offering direct financial support from contributors.
I am curious to know why it is called Start51. He tells me, “In India, monetary figures like 11, 21, 51, 111 are considered as a good omen or in simple words ‘shagun’. So a crowdfunding platform that can even get 1000 people to invest a sum of Rs.51 as shagun, could help an individual collect Rs.51000 to start off his business!”
Start51.com has a simple mission ‘To help getting funds to people having innovative ideas & transform them into reality and on the other hand, to ensure that the contributors’ funds are in right hands. Both givers and seekers are assured that the money has been spent to serve the community better through a project.’
In a very candid conversation Ateet Bajaj tell me that he gets his inspiration from Kickstarter- A global crowdfunding platform based in the United States, with a mission to help bring creative projects to life. He is also in sync with Kickstarter’s vision of not only raising money for a project, but to build a community around the good work.
One of the most integral aspects of running a crowdfunding platform, in the digital age is having a smooth and secure Payment Gateway in the backend, and this was exactly Ateet’s worry when most of the PG’s in the market were not able to fulfil his requirements. On scouting for that one perfect digital payment solution provider, Ateet came acrossUdio Biz, a B2B product from the house of TranServ.
While the product itself lived up to Ateet’s expectations, what Ateet was more happy to talk about was the team that quickly helped him integrate the same within his platform, and within three days Start51.com was already collecting payments online via the Udio Payment Gateway.
In a time when the payment ecosystem in India is still weak, and the few payment gateways available in the market were not supporting the requirements of a crowd funding platform; Ateet was tired of getting negative responses from most of the major players. With a twinkle in the eye he tells me,
“Udio was a blessing for me and within a day the team sorted all my concerns and helped me set up my payment gateway, at a time when I was getting anxious about the very sustenance of my business.”
When I ask him about those projects that are closer to his heart, he tells me about a person who started a project on his platform, to collect funds as he wanted to ‘cycle to Leh’ from Ahmedabad. He wanted Rs.15000, but ended up collecting 22,000 and completed his trip. Ateet says, he feels happy that he was able to showcase this man’s passion to a larger audience who actually ended up helping him achieve what he wanted. I believe the same person is now working towards his next adventure and the next level of success!
He also, tells me about a project ‘CareerKhojj’ that targeted to collect Rs.2,12,000 on his platform and but landed with crowd sourced funds ofRs. 2,86,000. They established their business, performed well and today are valued at 2.4 crore thanks to being funded by investors! Start51.com sees a variety of audience waiting to give wings to their passion. While some of them are adventure freaks- getting the blind to navigate car rallies, some are activists trying to spread a social message around the girl child. Some have start-up plans around ecommerce such as a student book-exchange portal while some have innovative ideas to leverage solar energy. The projects are creative, interesting and are driven by passion. Helping these ideas succeed gives a man like Ateet his adrenaline rush!
With his passion being technology projects, which also get funded on his platform, he agrees that when it comes to technology; it is the expertise as well as the service that sets a business apart. Be it hearing out concerns, implementing feedback or just trouble shooting when some things go kaput (with technology this can always happen) he is happy to mention that Team Udio is always there to support him with a very quick turn-around time. Definitely a feather in our cap!
Ateet is always aiming for the stars. On asking him if he feels contented with his business he gives an advice that thoroughly inspires me,
“One must never be completely satisfied with the way things are. We must always learn to increase our success ratio, be it with payments, business or just our way of life. Baby steps are important, but the journey our feet must cover is much more pertinent.”
– As told to Pooja Sriram