CRED a successful case study of a digital start-up || From failure to entering the unicorn club

CRED filled in an industry gap for the fintech sector with precision and a targeted strategy from sales, marketing, branding to their ad campaigns.

This digital start-up that was founded by Kunal Shah in 2018, is barely 5 years old and has become one of the fastest growing start-ups in India that offers Indians an easy way to pay their credit card bills on time while also making these payments rewarding for them. What started as a small side project for Kunal Shah, almost failed in its initial days and now has a unicorn status, CRED is a successful case study for many entrepreneurs and start-ups on how to diversify and become meaningful in a cut-throat industry.

Also read: Leading Digital apps for crypto trading in India

How a failure, initially?

In their early days, CRED began as a loyalty program for credit card users in India and their concept was pretty simple – users would earn points for making their credit card bills using the app – on time and then can redeem these rewards as cashback and discounts.

They attracted a $30 million funding from Sequoia Capital and few other key investors raising their values to almost $75 million in just 5-6 months period, however, the brand and their concept failed to take off as the brand simply struggled to attract users to its application.

Also read: Rise of Entrepreneurship: India’ golden digital start-up era

The realization..

While many brands would shut down doors, CRED took this challenge and quickly realized that their loyalty program was not enough to drive the users to their app and encourage engagement. The brand needed to offer something more that would set them apart from their large competition.

The pivot

Here is how the brand changed their offerings, they now also made it possible to:
a.Have bill tracking
b.Automated payment options to stay in tune with their pay on time value
c.Reward points for bill payments and few others

All of which grew their user base rapidly.

Read more: Leading digital investment apps in India

The growth phase for CRED

A rapid increase in their scaling and funding marked their growth phase rather prominently.

Ad campaign:

With a focus to build a strong brand and loyal user base, CRED worked with a series of high-profile marketing campaigns where celebrities from Bollywood to sports stars were seen to promote CRED. Jim Sarbh, Jackie Shroff to Rahul Dravid were in these ad campaigns and these ads helped CRED to build a strong brand to attract users – it built curiosity making use of several high-profile social and public figures in the ads.


A key for CRED on their mobile application is to offer a seamless user experience. Investing heavily in the technology and building a user-friendly application was crucial to make the brand known for its hassle free and simple credit card payments.

Easy access to track user spending, pay bills and all rewards in one place are part of their overall growth.

These efforts aided the brand to reach a valuation of $800 million in just close to a year while raising funds from world’s leading venture capital firms like DST Global, Ribbit Global and others. Raising $215 million in the funding round led by Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue Management, CRED valuation reached $2.2 billion making CRED one of the fastest Indian start-ups to achieve a unicorn status.

Also read: Bill Gates visit to India: How it will impact digital businesses in India

Key to success?

Undoubtedly their strong focus on building differentiation in the market with their offerings and a deep investment to building a simple and seamless user experience.

Recognising and realizing early on that their use base was not simply existed by a loyalty programme and adding product to drive user engagement helped CRED to gain a winning strategy and this was further backed by their high-profile ad campaigns that helped to build interest, engagement, and curiosity in the people to learn more leading them to the application. Once they reached the application, the ease of use, its features and the seamless user experience was why users stayed loyal to the brand.

CRED made sure they worked on building products with emerging tech, keep the innovation drive high, focus on customers and the power perseverance.

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