Early stage investment company Antler Australia recently backed a new cohort of startups as part of its ongoing program to build great local tech companies.
Startup Daily is sharing the details of each venture in the “Antler Investor Memos” series, which is designed to give you a quick, sharp understanding of the startups and people involved, with many seeking follow up capital following Antler’s initial pre-seed investment.
Formation date: 2022
Stage of business: Pre-Seed
Founders: Shivnil Maharaj and Ritesh Nain
Current investors: Antler
Currently raising: Yes
Description of business
Lenders in emerging markets often face challenges assessing credit risk profiles for prospective borrowers due to a lack of personal finance data points.
For instance, in a debit-card dominant market such as India, there are an estimated 3 credit cards for every 100 people, compared to the United States with much larger market saturation with 32 credit cards to the same population sample.
Together with a lack of automation in repayments and collections, this has so far constrained lenders’ ability to offer consumer finance and BNPL, despite large unmet consumer demand. Shivnil Maharaj, co-founder of ThirdRoc, is all too familiar with this challenge, having extensive experience in the Pacific region’s banking sector. Timely access to loans and the lack of credit bureaus were major hurdles for individuals and businesses alike.
Shivnil and his team embarked on a mission to revolutionise the credit risk landscape by leveraging technology and data analytics.
AI-powered SaaS platform, ThirdRoc, allows lenders in emerging markets to conduct credit risk analysis on prospective borrowers using machine learning models that leverage traditional and non-traditional datasets to accurately predict future repayment capabilities and default characteristics.
The cloud-based platform connects lenders, merchants, and enterprises via a secure dataflow pipeline to reduce friction in the lending process and eliminate time-intensive manual reviews.
For lenders, the typical loan application process moves faster on the platform with streamlined document collection and review, seamless integration with existing systems, and real-time access to all loan applications.
Borrowers benefit from flexible payment options that support their lifestyle and financial situations and mobile-ready payment options for repayments on the go.
Thirdroc has taken a unique approach to facilitating consumer finance in emerging markets with an efficient customer acquisition model and no credit risk.
It partners with enterprises with at least 1,000 employees and offers these employees the ability to access both a BNPL credit limit at Thirdroc’s partner merchants as well as Earned Wage Access (EWA) to wages already earned but not yet processed, for transactions with Thirdroc merchant partners.
Repayments to Thirdroc’s partner finance providers are seamlessly deducted from future payroll.
Thirdroc’s business model is to charge a SaaS fee for its technology platform together with a transaction fee on transacted items.
Once Thirdroc has penetrated the Fijian market, it plans to expand into the Indian market, where co-founder Ritesh Nain is based and has identified further rollout opportunities.
Antler investment thesis
“Thirdroc has developed a novel approach to facilitate consumer lending and Earned Wage Access in emerging markets and they’ve proven their execution ability with lenders, merchants and employee partners. The model is attractive in its SaaS platform plus transaction fees pricing method, customer acquisition at scale and zero credit risk approach” said Antler Partner, Cath Rogers
“The team has developed a sophisticated product with a robust credit decision engine which is a testament to their technical capability and domain expertise. We see strong geographic expansion potential in Asia and Africa and we’re excited by the social impact of the business in unlocking a much-needed consumer finance solution for individuals in developing economies.”
Traction & milestones
Within four months of building a secure and scalable platform on the cloud with a combination of web and modern mobile apps, ThirdRoc has signed over 1,500 individual customers to fulfil their needs via its enterprise partners, which includes the likes of Wormald Fiji, and lending partner, Merchant Finance Fiji. Beyond this, it is expanding into Prouds Luxury franchise in Fiji with reach into its 17 retail stores and has onboarded, ASX-listed Fiji Kava.
ThirdRoc has experienced early signs of solution market fit as evidenced by its rapidly growing sales pipeline that has a variety of prominent employers and merchants in Fiji with high lifetime values. The platform is modular in architecture and built with global expansion in mind from the get-go.
Pre-Seed from Antler
Use of funds
With Antler’s Pre-Seed investment, ThirdRoc is focused on customer acquisition by onboarding all major merchants in Fiji within the next year and then turning its attention to the Indian market. The SaaS platform is further developing its product and rolling out new features.
The founders say
“We are turning credit risk on its head by reducing bad debts for smaller lenders, driving new sales to merchants, improving staff retention for employers while increasing financial wellness for employees in markets that are perceived complex and risky. We are solving these common Emerging market problems with a tech-enabled solution built by a team that has faced these problems first-hand. Our MOAT lies in our ability to fix these problems holistically and at speed,” said Maharaj.
“At ThirdRoc, we’re on a mission to build the world’s most completeB2B2C funds flow platform where: lenders earn high returns, merchants sell more goods, small businesses get paid upfront, and employers get to support their employee’s financial wellbeing
“Our platform, powered by machine learning capabilities, enables lenders to accurately predict credit risk using APIs that convert unstructured data into insights and ease the debt collection process. In doing so, we reduce risk to zero and enable lenders to directly fund purchases on behalf of small businesses, merchants and employees of enterprises through consumer finance offerings such as BNPL and Earned Wage Access..
“Unlike most, we’re connecting machine learning models to legacy credit decisioning. This gives smaller lenders and employers an immediate boost.
“Our architecture is lender and payroll agnostic, meaning our next wave of growth will expand from traditional lenders to peer-to-peer lenders who seek better returns with zero risks. This will allow employers to create financial wellness opportunities for their employees while reducing staff turnover.
“Antler has provided us with structure, the advice and the platform to think bigger.”
Antler, a global early-stage VC, is revealing all its latest investments made in ambitious Australian founders and startups. With over 100 investments in early-stage companies, ThirdRoc is one of its most recent portfolio companies.
- StartupDaily is the official media partner of Antler in Australia.