Born out of the Pandemic — Refyne’s Origin Story10 min read

Aug 22, 2023

Where 5 o’clock is still quitting time

If there’s anything that the Pandemic of 2020 taught us, it is resilience. From some of the prominent VCs who emphasized inculcating a culture of resilience to the new-age wellness gurus who shared coping hacks, it seemed like the world was, perhaps still, in many ways, undergoing a difficult test.

With this background, one would expect to find many arguments favouring ditching the entrepreneurial path and waiting for the storm to subside. “Businesses are shutting down”, “budgets are shrinking”, “investors are reluctant to hand out term sheets”, or “even if you get funding the terms won’t be favourable”, and “how will you build the team since people would now especially focus on security” were some of the most common and yet realistic scenarios painted in front of us.
And yet, it made sense to continue ideating, pitching, convincing not just others but our own selves, and building.

It’s a sheer coincidence that resilience found its way even to the product we had set out to build. Refyne, India’s first income streaming solution for employees, is focused on building financial resilience in India’s workforce. COVID-19 showed us that employees are not immune to productivity loss, financial stress, economic shocks, and family responsibilities, even at big enterprises.

It’s people who drive innovation, economic value and growth. And organisations must strive to create an environment and policies that enable employees to thrive.

It is estimated that 75% of those who have experienced financial difficulties have reported material deterioration in their health and wellbeing. When this stress is carried into the work environment, it manifests as distraction, absenteeism, reduced performance, and employee turnover. 20% of employee turnover is attributable to financial stress, and we estimate the combined effect of this to cost employers $300bn annually, in the US and the UK alone.

Excerpt from the EY September 2020 Report

Owing to the gig economy’s growth, the nature of employment has changed dramatically over the last decade. Employees, be it part-time, full-time or on a contractual basis, seek access to on-demand pay to fulfil their short-term financial hardships. These hardships could vary anywhere from emergencies to mismatches between income and expenses.
The pandemic triggered by COVID-19 has specifically exacerbated the financial conditions of employees. From mass-scale unemployment to rising debt to income ratio, the year 2020 has forced everyone to introspect and relook some of the national and organisational policies.
To build an anchor, we felt it was the right time to introduce the concept of on-demand pay or earned wage access. And the team at Refyne persevered. From one person, Refyne grew to a size of 13 at the end of 2020. 90% of the team is referral based.
We solidified our culture book that lists 12 values… values that would drive our actions.
We found investors who trust the team and have successfully introduced the concept of on-demand pay to geographies such as Europe, USA, and Latin America.
We successfully launched the beta phase, which has been nothing less than a crash course in How to Juggle (or not).
And finally, we found partner companies who believe that on-demand pay is the future for a more engaged and productive workforce. We are launching Employee Financial Wellness initiative with 60+ companies, some of them with pan India presence.

We are fortunate that 2020 showed us that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but it is now that our work has truly started. Every company has a foundation and an origin story. Refyne’s origin story is rooted in resilience, and it is resilience that has manifested within, without.

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