BharatPe creates employee stock options pool worth around $20 million

The Delhi-based startup, BharatPe, has already given out shares worth $5million to 22 existing employees.


Digital payments facilitator for small merchants and local kiranas, BharatPe has created an employee stock options (ESOP) pool worth around $20 million and is looking to hire 10 executives to lead its business verticals who will be given out shares from this pool. The Delhi based startup has already given out shares worth $5 million to 22 existing employees.

“My aim is to attract top-level talent from the industry across sectors like commerce, financial services and FMCG, the ESOP pool will be a major attraction in that endeavour,” said Ashneer Grover, chief executive officer, BharatPe in an exclusive interaction with Tech2. “I am trying to build out the entire top management across lending, technology and products to drive the next round of growth.”

 BharatPe creates employee stock options pool worth around  million

Representational Image: Pixabay

BharatPe has till date raised $65 million in equity capital from Ribbit Capital, Steadview Capital, Sequoia Capital, Beenext Capital and Insight Partners between two major rounds. The startup deploys QR code stickers at merchant outlets thereby enabling consumers to pay through any UPI app. Further it has also ventured into lending to these small merchants to help them expand their businesses.

“Unlike many other startups we will allow our employees to vest 25 percent of their pool after completion of the first year, post that over the next three years 75 percent can be vested,” said Grover.

With support from his investors, Grover said that he will buy back the shares from their employees as they intend to vest, thereby helping them make money in the process. The value of the shares will be marked against the last primary round valuation of the company.

BharatPe has grown very fast within 15 months of being operational, emerging as one of the fastest growing fintech startups in the country. It has even onboarded film star Salman Khan as its brand ambassador to extend its message to the small merchant community in the country and drive digitization of payments.

Besides simple payments, the company has diversified into lending as well. By end of the current year, Grover said that the company would have given out close to $10 million in small business loans. It has already onboarded around 3 million merchants and has grown its transaction volume by 27 times over last year.

“We are already a 200 member team at BharatPe, now I am opening a new office with around 60 seats mainly to house the products and tech teams which is currently only 25 members strong,” he said.

Startups have been known to use company shares as an attractive opportunity for employees to get liquidity as the company’s valuation grows. Very recently even Zerodha said that will distribute shares of the company to 850 of its employees. Even Razorpay had a share buy back programme as a part of its latest funding round. The company bought back shares worth around Rs 30 crore from its employees. Even Moglix did a share buy back of Rs 5 to 10 crore from its employees.

Grover said that many over-valued startups are finding it difficult to make money and are laying off staff. This will open a chance for BharatPe to attract many good quality employees who will venture out in search of high growth opportunities.

“If we can attract talented people in the market through our growth potential and attractive ESOP pool, we will be able to build a very strong leadership team,” he said.

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