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Tradeshift tapping Indian small businesses for its invoicing platform

Tradeshift, a social network for connecting supply chains, sees serious potential in India's small business sector, CEO Christian Lanng told CNBC.

The start-up, which connects businesses to simplify their expense systems, told CNBC's "Street Signs" that India was Tradeshift's fastest growing market, with 15,000 small companies signed up to its platform.

"Very early on, we connected a lot of companies in India [that] were in the long tail of the supply chain," Lanng said, "We are definitely big here on the supply chain side, we're just not as big on the buyer side yet."

India's new Goods and Services Tax (GST) policy made Tradeshift even more optimistic about tapping into India's growth. Part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reform agenda, the milestone approval of the GST is expected to strengthen investor confidence in India by simplifying its current tax system that consists of 15 types of taxes.

"We're very positive about the evolution of the economy and how we can help connect larger companies," Lanng said on the sidelines of the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum in New Delhi.

Garment factory workers in Mumbai, Maharashtra in India.
Education Images | UIG | Getty Images
Garment factory workers in Mumbai, Maharashtra in India.

Tradeshift currently runs its India business out of its China and Singapore offices, a practice that Lanng said was common among software and cloud companies because they did not require many people on the ground to manage networks.

However, he said the company was likely to be investing more in India in the near future.

"We are probably going to be investing more in go-to-market and community for sure," he said, in reference to expanding Tradeshift's user base there by helping more buyers and suppliers in digitizing the information on their supply chains.

Tradeshift recently secured $75 million in funding during its Series D round in June and is currently valued to be worth around $600 million.

Lanng was quick to play down any talk about unicorns - commonly defined as start-ups that are valued above $1 billion - but he acknowledged that if the company were to continue growing at its current pace, it would be a unicorn by its Series E funding round.

"Ultimately, the valuation that matters is the one you have when you exit the company [or] have an IPO. In between, it's indicative but not the most important thing," he said. "The biggest milestone for us is growing the company."

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