Refrens.com Raises Investment from Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, FirstCheque and Others

Funds will be used for expanding reach of the platform and adding Freelancer friendly financial services.
  • BY Jaspreet Kaur

    Feature Writer, BusinessEx

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  • May 13,2020
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  • 14 Mins Read

As offices are shut due to pandemic, lay offs, pay cuts and halts in salary appraisals have occurred immensely. Those who hop over these barriers, have continued working at the convenience of their home while others are suffering. In this hour of need, job seekers having expertise are looking for new jobs and at times, opting for freelancing work as earnings are paramount for survival. 

Addressing this problem, Refrens.com, a Bengaluru based startup that revolves around freelancers and small businesses has raised funding from angel investors--Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder of Paytm and Anupam Mittal, Founder of Shaadi.com. The company  has lately launched a free invoicing, payments and expense management system. Generally, online tools are costly, charging $100-$500 annually which is too much for a freelancer. Thus, the company used this opportunity and disrupted an untapped niche by launching a free tool to manage invoices and payments. On top of this, it is creating a full fledged freelancer marketplace, where freelancers can showcase their work, portfolio and services to get more business.      

The investment round also saw participation from Angelist's The Collective fund, the Mumbai-based early stage fund, Firstcheque, Amiya Pathak of Ezcred, Gireesh Subramaniam of Freshworks, Sujayath Ali and Naveneetha Krishnan- founders of Voonik.com, Amit Lakhotia of Park+, Ajeet Khurana, CEO of Zebpay, Founders and senior management of Kaleyra, Founders of DailyNinja, Springrole and a few others, according to the company's official statement. 

"Freelancers and soloists are the future of work. We are building an important platform to enable them to get payments faster and get more work. It’s really encouraging to have some of the most prominent entrepreneurs in the Indian startup ecosystem to put their trust on us for this endeavour," Naman Sarawagi, Founder at Refrens, said. 

An Aid for Freelancers and Small Businesses

Refrens.com is essentially designed for B2B service providers including designers, software developers, accountants, marketers, consultants etc. It focuses mainly on individual freelancers and small Businesses. It currently has 12000 businesses and freelancers using its services and claims to be growing at 10 per cent every week.

"Freelancers and B2B service providers is a large and growing segment. There are about 15 million white collar professionals in this industry in India alone. There is a huge opportunity in building for this community of users," Kushal Bhagia, CEO of FirstCheque, an early stage fund that invested in this startup’s funding round. 

"We are inviting freelancers to create their portfolio on the site and that will be used to connect with other businesses. We are not running after large businesses only but small freelancers as well," Sarawagi told BusinessEx. 

The company decides to employ money for business expansion, across different geographies, and increase its user base. 

"The current idea is to get more freelancers on board. The initial target is to get 100k freelancers on the platform. We will be having at least 1 million freelancers and will be present across geographies," Sarawagi told BusinessEx while discussing the company’s future plans. 

What Caught Investors' Attention?

Refrens.com essentially sought financial aid from investors, to dive deeper in the industry and offer extensive services to freelancers and small businesses. Given that the platform is quite young, it does not have any training programs. However, in the long-term, it will be partnering with a lot of training platforms and giving free training on various things, from getting sales to doing marketing and managing their finances, Founder told BusinessEx.

"Investors have betted on the experienced team and secondly, the market opportunity. Whole industry around freelance bids is pretty big. We are really quick, we raised our round and have around 12,000 freelancers on our platform," Sarawagi informed.    

"We have been tracking Refrens from day one and invested when they started showing early growth. The founders are experienced at building internet products of scale. We are excited to be partners in this," Kushal said.

Naman Sarawagi and Mohit Jain established Refrens. It is the second startup of both the co-founders. Naman has been part of early stage teams at startups like Freecharge and ZipDial. Mohit Jain had earlier founded a school ERP startup and was CTO at FindYogi. He has been a tech consultant to multiple startups including DailyNinja and SuperProcure. 

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