I started my career in my final year of graduation. During my early days, I helped my dad with the software distribution business that he had set-up in Delhi NCR. Having had a strong grip in the software industry, I was easily able to find freelance projects during my post-graduation days. Soon I decided to take the ‘entrepreneur’ path rather than opt for campus placements. 

I started a couple of ventures – first in the B2B market space, where the main focus was on providing turnkey IT solutions to small businesses right from ERP Implementation to web design & procurement of IT Infrastructure. My second venture was in the B2C market space, where I started an online grocery store for an emerging township. However, both these ventures didn’t work out well & I decided to take a different route. 

Soon after, I got an opportunity to join an ERP company as a Software Developer and worked there for 4 years.

 

#OpenerSpeaks_Lokesh Malhotra

My journey with Open

I joined Open a year ago and my journey has been all about new challenges & roles. I started out as an individual contributor, which later developed to a ‘Team Lead’ role & then eventually shaped up to that of a ‘Technical Product Manager’.

Most traditional financial software companies in India, often record accounting & banking transactions in an offline manner via native applications. This often leads to problems like non-accessibility to data 24×7, device dependency, human errors, data security, mismatch in books data versus bank data, etc.

Most business owners either end up spending a large amount of time rectifying these issues themselves or hiring a financial consultant. And these are the exact challenges that I’ve been working on solving for business owners all over, for the past 15 months.

 

The API adventure

I was initially given the opportunity to build an API-based plugin that can be used to easily integrate Open with a third-party accounting software. This way users on Open could easily manage their collections and payouts from a single platform. 

It was very tricky to design a schema that was both compatible and scalable. Working with supportive and like-minded colleagues helped me a lot at conceptualizing technical solutions for such complex problems. 

I brainstormed with the product team for hours to come up with a workflow that helps users automate all their accounting. This way, they’d no longer be required to spend hours manually tracking income & expenses and recording them in their accounting software.  

 

Leading the way

I was then given the opportunity to take lead as a ‘Technical Product Manager’ for the finance module. My previous ventures had equipped me with the functional knowledge & user expectations that one needs to keep in mind while designing this module. And I could easily approach the leadership team at Open to share my vision for the roadmap ahead.  

I started out setting up accounting rules and the flow of information in different DB tables – one thing that was both interesting and challenging at the same time. And we eventually built a GST compliant finance module that provides options for collections & payouts directly against invoices and bills. 

#OpenerSpeaks_Quote_Lokesh Malhotra

Breaking new grounds

As Product Managers, we regularly interact with the business team to plan & execute a comprehensive go-to-market strategy. Along the same lines, there was a requirement to build a robust portal that would help our business partners to buy, distribute, or sell licenses directly to end-users. 

Having worked in software distribution at the start of my career, I was able to understand the pain points faced by partners, much better. Right from managing channel distribution, product placement to pricing policy – we streamlined it all. This portal is now live and keeps track of each license activation, revenue calculation, customer/partner management, etc. 

In parallel to these challenges, I had taken an initiative to implement Agile methodology in the engineering team. This helped my team to plan, track & release the sprints on time. Meanwhile, tools like JIRA helped the team to maintain sync between product requirements and development.

 

The way forward 

A year from now, I want to equip Open to cater to the banking needs of small businesses & freelancers in a much more advanced manner. One single platform that solves business finance challenges right from tax filing to tax payments (indirect & direct) & generation of advanced MIS reports. We are also working towards helping e-commerce resellers on Amazon, Flipkart to automatically track their payments with ease. And by integrating expense management into banking & finance – this is sure to save them a ton of time.

 

The Open life

There comes a point in your career when you need to gear up for bigger goals and push yourself out of your comfort zone. One where you transition from being a mere contributor to a leader. Open was that turning point in my career.

If you are someone who wants to thrive at work in a growth-oriented environment; if you want to learn and grow with Asia’s first and fastest-growing neobanking startup, come and be a part of Open.

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