Husband and wife entrepreneurs mint own unicorns within a year

24 Mar 2022

NEW DELHI: An Indian couple became the country’s first husband and wife to build their respective startups into enterprises with at least $1 billion valuation, also known as unicorns.

Oxyzo Financial Services, a digital lending startup co-founded by Ruchi Kalra, said Wednesday it hit the milestone with its maiden fundraising round of $200 million led by Alpha Wave Global, Tiger Global Management, Norwest Venture Partners and others. Less than a year earlier, her husband Asish Mohapatra’s OfBusiness reached the same valuation after backing from SoftBank Group Corp. and others.

Kalra, 38, and Mohapatra, 41, are alums of Indian Institute of Technology and met while working at McKinsey & Co. Both startups are profitable, an unusual feat for young growth companies. Kalra is the chief executive officer of Oxyzo while Mohapatra is the CEO at OfBusiness. Matrix Partners and Creation Investments also invested in Oxyzo in what is one of the largest Series A rounds in India’s startup industry.

Oxyzo, a blend of the words oxygen and ozone, was founded by Kalra, Mohapatra and three others in 2017 as an offshoot of the couple’s first startup, OfBusiness, which they started along with three others in early 2016. Oxyzo uses technology to crunch data and provide purchase financing to businesses, giving out cash-flow based loans in a credit-starved country where small and medium businesses struggle to get working capital.

OfBusiness, formally known as OFB Tech Pvt., supplies bulk raw materials such as steel, diesel, food grains and industrial chemicals to small and medium-sized businesses. Its valuation surpassed $1 billion when SoftBank and others invested in April last year, according to Mohapatra. In December, the startup’s valuation reached nearly $5 billion as SoftBank and others put more money into it, he said via phone.

Kalra, who was a partner at McKinsey, left the firm to join entrepreneurial forces with her husband, who exited venture-capital company Matrix. “We both had an itch to go out and build something,” she said.

The two startups run separately with different offices and teams, Kalra said. However, they target the same industries such as manufacturing and infrastructure sub-contracting. Both are based in Gurgaon.

Oxyzo has more than 500 employees and a data warehouse specializing in supply chain analytics. It has disbursed over $2 billion in loans and has been profitable since its inception.

In the statement, investor Norwest described Kalra as the country’s “first female founder in India of a profitable, fintech unicorn.”


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