Sirish Kumar is the CEO and Co-Founder of Telr, the international e-payment gateway for businesses to easily and securely accept and manage online payments via web and mobile. A seasoned C-suite executive, Sirish is widely acknowledged as one of the most distinguished finance professionals in the industry having successfully set up and steered the growth of Middle East’s fastest growing payments player. With an unstinted focus on emerging markets and SME businesses, Sirish is spearheading the growth of Telr across Middle East, South Asian economies and has recently launched it in India.
Sirish’s first job was at Cargill Foods, the world’s largest privately held food corporation, whereby he received a great wealth of experience and knowledge. There, he grew with them from a team of 30 to 40 employees, to reach 500 employees, all within a short span of three years. Additionally, he witnessed a three-fold growth in revenue. During his tenure there, he also received the opportunity to work directly with the CFO at Cargill, and received exposure to a host of business functions such as forex/commodities trading, acquisitions, and setting up a new berth facility for large shipping vessels. He was subsequently selected as one of the top 20 talented team members of that company.
These experiences and more contributed towards developing his entrepreneurial mind set while working within a framework of a multi-national company, allowing him to identify the assymetrical information flow between buyers and sellers within the business environment, especially when pertaining to the intermediary chain, such as brokers, that typically operated within it.
Highly regarded for his expertise in credit finance, financial modelling and evaluation, mergers and acquisitions, commercial negotiations and project management, Sirish believes that what truly defines him is his great team building and inter-personal skills. He has managed large teams of 30+ members in different cultural contexts and has successfully led succession planning.
A Chartered Accountant by profession, Sirish has an MBA in General Management from the prestigious and top ranked global business school, INSEAD. Sirish started his career with Cargill, worked with Motorola in senior leadership roles and later joined Nokia Solutions and Networks as the Senior Business Finance Controller for APAC. He has worked in multiple geographies of USA, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, India and other emerging markets.
Before co-founding Telr, Sirish was the CFO for PayPal in ASEAN and India. Here he led the growth strategy, geographic expansion, financial planning and analytics, acquisitions and new ventures and compliance besides helming the operations across functions. He also has been an angel investor and led social entrepreneurship initiatives in Singapore and Philippines, where he initiated a social entrepreneurship platform.
This platform, located in Singapore, encouraged people to begin their own businesses and revisit their business models through access to experienced mentors. The focus of this initiative was on integrating the viability of a business model with the community-driven aspect of social responsibility. The yearly social entrepreneurship initiative in a competition framework became popular amongst start-ups in Singapore. With its final stage of the competition, the finalists were taken to Philippines, thereby pitting start-ups face to face with experienced social entrepreneurs. The initiative had developed into a challenge for SMEs to bring forth innovative ideas and more importantly execute them.
Sirish’s involvement in that platform had him interacting very closely with start-ups and entrepreneurs which led to several discussions around specific pain points faced by SMEs. It was also at PayPal that Sirish sought to gain a deeper insight into the SMEs in emerging markets who were taking too long to come online, consequently revealing the three main reasons behind the failure of SME’s to adapt to a digital medium and sell online.
It was in August 2013 that Sirish Kumar finally started talking to people about his idea to create an ecosystem that not only provided online payment solutions to SMEs, but that would also serve as a growth partner to help them grow through auxiliary support. The discussion was extremely fruitful, and led me into establishing Telr as a platform to address the various hassles faced by SMEs when trying to come on board a digital platform. Telr denotes the digitization of a process of handling cash, resulting in cashless transactions, enabling merchants to scale-up.
At Telr, he has attracted an experienced talented multi-cultural team around core tenets which are summed up as ‘SAVE’. The acronym stands for Speed of innovation, Alignment, Values and Execution. He has been instrumental in identifying specific problems to be solved in specific emerging markets, raising funds, putting together the governance framework, leading “first in the market” unique revenue sharing deals with acquiring banks in multiple geographies and signing partnership with large telecom group.
This has enabled Telr to have a local presence in multiple geographies in a short period of time. He values simplicity in launching offers to his customers. He has also struck vital partnership deals so that Telr can provide merchants with logistics support and facilitate integration of shopping carts that enable them to focus on their businesses while remaining within Telr ecosystem. Sirish has also been responsible for articulating the vision for the company and executing it by defining specific key performance indicators. Telr has a very fair and transparent business model for the benefit of their customers, which has been achieved through our partnership with banks to remove existing fragmentation, and in return helped in making payments available to their merchants in localised currencies.
Sirish is now focused on carrying the team ahead to its next phase of growth. He aims to create new business lines around cash management solutions, thereby targeting new pipelines of customers. Over the next few years, he is committed to establishing Telr as the preferred financial service partner to SMEs to enable them start and grow their businesses in emerging markets through a localised approach.
An avid tennis player himself, Sirish is an enthusiastic Roger Federer fan. He also loves to catch up with his friends across the globe and spend quality time with them during his travels.