For decades now, networking has been an essential part of growing a career or even a business. It was the impact of this power that Jaspreet Dhingra, a Chartered Accountant by profession, realised while working with HSBC Bank in the UK around 2010.
“In the UK, there is a culture of going to a bar and having a beer after work. You meet different people in a not-so-professional environment and build networks. This concept really fascinated me,” he says.
In 2014, he quit his job and returned to India to launch Outgrow Consulting in Delhi with one of his colleagues from HSBC. Outgrow was a consulting firm especially designed to solve the queries of Indian small and medium businesses (SMBs).
In the course of doing business, Jaspreet realised there are key gaps in the SMB ecosystem. According to him, SMB owners fall prey to micromanaging.
“They try to play the role of a CEO, CFO, and even CTO sometimes. And as a result, some vital things often get dropped in a bid to do everything by oneself. Another dilemma that SMB owners often face is how to acquire new clients/customers and scale up,” he says.
In 2019, Jaspreet quit Outgrow and decided to solve these issues. In 2020, he launched BANC with his brother Preet Dhingra.
BANC or Business and Networking Club is a “refer to profit” platform where SMBs can make contacts and grow their business by leveraging the power of networking. Jaspreet explains,
“It is a win-win situation for everybody. The person who is getting the business, the person who is helping him get, basically, everyone.”
How does BANC work?
The BANC platform provides every SMB with a personal dashboard, which connects it to relevant leads based on its background. SMBs who want to use BANC have to undergo a three-step verification process, which includes individual and company verification, and finally, signing some legal documents.
Once the verification is done, the owner of the SMB is free to avail of the platform’s services that include tracking the leads that have been passed on the business, amount of business transacted, etc.
The Delhi-based company also holds weekly online sessions in which clients can give presentations about their business to fellow users. It also provides one on one seven-minute sessions among the members of the club.
Then, there is Bank Talks, which includes sessions that invite well-known personalities from the business ecosystem including coaches and management gurus, who talk to BANC members, provide insights, and also solve their queries regarding the day-to-day working of the business.
Since its inception, BANC claims it has clocked a gross revenue of over Rs 25 crore. It has 28 clients, which includes 24 SMBs from India, and the remaining from Canada, Singapore, and Johannesburg, with turnovers ranging from Rs 1 crore to Rs 500 crore annually.
Identifying as a sector-agnostic platform, Jaspreet says BANC doesn’t believe in having any benchmarks while onboarding customers. Moreover, he shares that the advantage of having clients from different sectors and different countries is having a “huge and diverse network”, which benefits everyone.
One of the key challenges for SMBs is adopting technology, says Jaspreet.
He explains, “Last year, during this time, people had a lot of time but they couldn’t move. Hence, everything had to be done online. In fact, there were times when I had to explain to them how to log in while conducting meetings and sessions on Zoom.”
When PM Modi announced the nationwide lockdown to curb the outbreak of coronavirus, MSMEs were faced with a mammoth task — going digital.
According to Jaspreet, while SMB owners may lack technical expertise, they are “very sharp and brainy”, which is why many of them were able to adapt to the demands of the time.
To make using the platform easier for SMBs, BANC has options of notifications and pop-ups that offer recommendations on relevant leads for a user.
The company also has partnered with platforms like IntroBot which facilitates meetings with relevant leads. However, only 10 customers use the tool due to their hesitation in adopting technology.
BANC wants to push the technology agenda further but with easier tools to work on — at least in the beginning.
Revenue model and plans ahead
The business operates in two ways — membership fee and transaction fee. There are three kinds of memberships — gold, platinum, and purple, which start from Rs 50,000 and can go up to Rs 1,50,000 annually.
BANC also gets a 10-15 percent cut from any transaction that takes place as and when a lead materialises into something concrete.
As the second wave COVID-19 rages across the country, Jaspreet chooses to “remain positive.
” Going forward, the company plans to acquire new customers across North America, African, and the Canadian markets. It also aims to acquire 100 customers in the coming times and set up an office in the US once travel restrictions settle down.