Indian trio reap $500 million each selling payments startup
When three consultants from Arthur Andersen LLP set out to build a digital payments company at the turn of the millennium, the first institutional backer they found was an Indian state-run lender. This week Prosus NV bought BillDesk for $4.7 billion, netting the trio half-a-billion dollars each for their combined 31% stake.
The story of M.N. Srinivasu, Ajay Kaushal and Karthik Ganapathy runs counter to rules in India’s startup textbook. In an age where every funding round is touted in press statements and staff parties, Prosus-owned PayU found itself having to take complete charge of the acquisition announcement because BillDesk had never employed a PR firm.
“We aren’t the typical young startup founders,” Srinivasu said by phone, hastening to add that while Kaushal and he are 53 years old, Ganapathy is “only pushing 50.” “When we started on Jan. 1, 2000, we didn’t have a startup idea. We thought it would be a great opportunity to build something at the intersection of tech and financial services, it was just gut-feel.”
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