Lucknow: Ashneer Grover who is the co-founder and managing director of BharatPe, has resigned from the fintech firm on March 1 amid the ongoing controversies around him. He also co-founded the company along with Shashvat Nakrani in 2018. Within four years, he turned BharatPe into one of the largest used payment apps in India. His net worth is around INR 700 crores.
Though Ashneer had a good start in terms of academics, career and business, he also faced multiple challenges in the journey. As all of us have seen him as a successful business tycoon and recently in the judging panel of the Shark Tank India reality show, very few know how Ashneer Grover became the man of trade we now know.
Ashneer was born in Delhi on June 14, 1982 to a Charted Accountant father and a teacher mother. As the parents were into a good profession, the family was doing well. He got graduated from well-reputed institutes like IIT and IIM.
Ashneer Grover was married to Madhuri Jain Grover, who is an entrepreneur and owns a furnishing business named Mauve and Brown in Delhi. Madhuri Grover was also taking care of HR, finance, and other internal operations in BharatPe, before being sacked from the firm recently. This couple has two children.
Ashneer Grover completed his schooling in Delhi and then went to Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) to get his B.Tech degree. During his time in IIT Delhi, he was selected for a student exchange program with the National Institute of Applied Sciences, also known as INSA Lyon, in France, which is one of the largest and finest engineering schools in Europe.
He moved to INSA Lyon in 2002 with a scholarship of €6,000 from the French Embassy. After graduating from IIT, Grover went to the India Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad for his MBA in Finance. He graduated from the IIM in 2006.
Kotak Finance Banking selected Ashneer Grover as the Vice-President through campus placements from IIM. He has been a part of Kotak for almost 7 years since 2006.
In mid-2013, Ashneer joined American Express (AmEx), a payment card services company, and worked there for two years as the Director of Corporate Development in AmEx. After leaving American Express in 2015, Ashneer became the Chief Financial Officer in Grofers. The company is now called Blinkit.
After 12 years of experience from multiple jobs, Ashneer Grover decided to step up his own business. His experience as the head of business development and payments at PC Jeweller sparked the idea of starting a payments company. Ashneer eventually joined hands with Shashvat Nakrani to establish BharatPe in 2018.
Together they built the fintech company from scratch and added several services to its core operation. Today, BharatPe offers UPI Payments, QR codes for transactions, POS machines for card payments, an investment and loan app called 12% Club, and digital gold transactions.
When BharatPe was a $30 mn company, Ashneer claimed that he received an offer of $50 mn from Google Pay, but he refused to materialize a deal with the latter, as per one of his statements in the show Shark Tank India. Grover later added that he knew that he was meant for something big, which all of the entrepreneurs and the founders and CEOs to be, should aim for, and BharatPe is currently valued at over $3 bn now.
Controversies and Challenges surrounding Ashneer Grover
BharatPe, as a company, got mired into a controversy when it labeled itself as nationalistic and the competitors as Non-Indian companies. The company issued pamphlets citing such details to the public. So the competitors filed a lawsuit against BharatPe and reported the same with the RBI.
Another controversy arose when PhonePe and BharatPe fought for the word ‘Pe’ in their respective names. PhonePe had filed a case against the latter in Delhi High Court. It was later disposed of by the same.
A major controversy surrounded Ashneer Grover was about a recent audio clip leak on Twitter. It is claimed that Grover used inappropriate language and threatened a Kotak employee over an issue of not securing Nykaa’s IPO shares.
Before this issue could be settled, the company’s board raised accusations against Ashneer and his wife. The board accused them of initiating fraudulent transactions against non-existing vendors. They also reported irregularities in invoices.
The audio issue forced him to stay away from the company and take a temporary leave for three months. Now, after the discovery of financial irregularities, the board demands the permanent exit of Ashneer Grover from the company. Grover responded that he was happy to leave his role in BharathPe but would always stay as a shareholder and a founder.
With pressure mounting up on Ashneer Grover to leave BharatPe, he strongly criticized the CEO Suhail Sameer, alleging that latter manipulated and arm-twisted him to exit the company. Grover has demanded huge compensation, Rs. 4000 crores for selling his 8.5 per cent stake and quitting the company, however, as per media reports, top investors in the fintech platform are not budging an inch. At a $2.85 billion valuation and at the current dollar-rupee exchange rate, his stake would be around Rs 1,824 crore.
Meanwhile, the fintech platform has sacked Grover’s wife Madhuri Jain Grover over alleged financial irregularities during her tenure as head of controls that runs into crores. Alvarez and Marsal, a leading management consultant and risk advisory firm, is set to submit its report into financial irregularities at the firm during Grovers’ time some time next week.
Despite the accusations made against him by the board, one can never deny the effort and time Ashneer Grover invested in the growth of BharatPe, getting it 8 million merchants on this platform.