The Muthoot Group, one of India’s leading business conglomerates today announced the launch of its Chatbot MATTU & MITTU [Muthoot Advanced Technology Transformation Unit (MATTU), Muthoot Intelligent Technology Transformation Utility (MITTU)]. MATTU & MITTU will be represented by two elephant mascots that come together to denote the Group’s famous logo. The company is first in the Indian Gold Loan industry to use a bot on its official website MuthootFinance

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‘MATTU & MITTU’ is an Artificial Intelligence powered Virtual Assistant that will offer 24/7 customer assistance and instantly respond to customer queries across The Muthoot Group’s diverse products and services; ranging from Gold Loan, Insurance, Money Transfer, Forex, Mutual Funds, Home loan etc. The AI-Bot is also said to act as a financial advisor, helping break myths around Muthoot’s flagship product – Gold Loans, and enabling customers to make informed decisions.

It will help the customer to register, get details about Gold Loan/other financial products, apply for a Gold Loan scheme, locate the nearest Muthoot Finance branch etc. Among many other attractive features of the Bot, MATTU and MITTU will also provide

  • AI assisted live chat
  • Predictive text
  • Rating and instant feedback facility
  • Natural language processing
  • Suggestive/informative conversations
  • Specialized advice based on customer inclinations
  • Personalized advice through recognition of past behaviour patterns
  • Onsite support at a branch, without involvement of staff

Speaking about this development, Alexander George Muthoot, Deputy Managing Director, The Muthoot Group said

We, at The Muthoot Group, have always been at the forefront of adopting technology and transforming customer experience by providing them instant solutions to their financial needs. ‘MATTU & MITTU’ is our latest addition to some of our already existing technologically advanced systems like Core Banking Solution [CBS], Customer Relationship Management [CRM], iMuthoot Mobile App etc.

We serve more than 2 lakh customers everyday, and through our newly launched Chatbot, we aim to redefine seamless customer experience by being present where they are – Online. The bot is designed to increase the quality of the relationship we have with our customers by enhancing and personalizing their financial journey with us.

About The Muthoot Group

The Muthoot Group has a family business legacy of over 800 years. The Group started as a small trading business enterprise in Kozhencherry, a remote village in the state of Kerala. Since its formation, the company, under the leadership of its key management – Shri M G George Muthoot (Chairman), Shri George Alexander Muthoot (Managing Director), Shri George Thomas Muthoot (Jt. Managing Director) and George Jacob Muthoot (Jt. Managing Director) has broadened its scale and widened its geographic scope of retail operations.

Today, The Muthoot Group is a multi-faceted business conglomerate comprising 18 diversified divisions including Financial  Services, Wealth Management, Money Transfer, Forex, Securities, Vehicle & Asset Finance, Media, IT, Healthcare, Housing & Infrastructure, Education, Power Generation, Leisure & Hospitality, Plantation & Estates, Precious Metals, Travel Services, Housing Finance & Overseas Operations.

Truecaller launched its new television and digitally focused advertising campaign with the tagline ‘Sab ke liye’ meaning both ‘for everyone’ and ‘for everything’. The ad campaign is aimed to create awareness amongst the audience about the recent features introduced on the app apart from Caller ID and Spam filtering.

The features illustrated through the campaign include, Truecaller Pay, Flash Messaging and Video Calling powered by Google Duo. Positioning Truecaller as a one-stop platform for its users, the TVC looks at everyday situations the users go through and how Truecaller has a solution to make their lives simple, safe and more efficient. Truecaller has developed several new features for the application in the recent times that provide solutions to consumers in a simple and convenient manner also reducing the need for multiple applications providing the same functions on their smartphones.

Expressing his thoughts on the campaign, Manan Shah, Director Marketing, Truecaller India, said

At Truecaller we have always strived to provide our users with the best experience across all modes of communication, in line with the objective of being a one stop communication platform. By incorporating relevant features, we are confident that our young and active users will stay ahead and find multiple ways to solve their daily challenges. Taking inspiration from realistic scenarios, our TVC will surely be very relatable to the audiences and portray how seamlessly one application can be used for multiple purposes.

The TVC went live on TV and digital starting 13th October 2018.

About Truecaller

People use Truecaller to stay ahead. It helps them know who’s getting in touch, filter out unwanted calls and SMS, and focus on what really matters. The company provides a suite of unique services such as a dialer that offers caller ID, spam detection, messaging and more. Truecaller’s mission is to build trust everywhere by making communication safe and efficient. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, the company was founded in 2009 by Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam.

Medical issues are inevitable part of life but the cost of treatment often takes a toll on the family. For this reason, health insurance is an insurance you must have. To keep yourself and your family members well protected get the best medical insurance by keeping the following facts in mind.

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What types of insurance is being provided?

Does your health insurance cover provide only reimbursements or also cashless treatment? This is one of the most crucial questions you must ask yourself before purchasing insurance. As the name suggests, in case of reimbursement the insured needs to pay for the treatment and then submit the medical bills to the insurer to get the money back. In case of cashless treatment the insurer takes care of all the expenses when the insured is hospitalized.

Is the insurance well networked?

Instead of reimbursements what we need more during medical exigencies is cashless treatment. So choose a health insurance company which has a wide range of network with standard hospitals and nursing homes around the country.

Is the health insurance right for you?

There are multiple medical insurance schemes available in the market and it is utmost important that you choose the right policy. If you are single opt for the personal health insurance; there are policies to cover the whole family or provide individual protection to the family members. The health insurance claim amount generally ranges between Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh; choose one after considering not only the present condition but also keeping in mind the fact that the cost of treatment will rise in future.

Are there any additional protections?

Pre and post hospitalization expenses are the standard items covered under the health insurance policy. Check whether your mediclaim policy covers additional expenses like maternity and new born expenses or costs related to day care procedure. There are special insurance schemes which cover expenses when any critical illness is diagnosed.

Is the premium affordable?

Health insurance policy is just not a matter of a year or two; it is a matter of whole life. For this reason choose an insurance policy with an affordable premium. Some companies also offer additional benefits like discounts on the premium if it is for multiple years. If there is no claim made in a year then many insurance companies even allow a certain percentage of the claim to be carried forward to the consecutive years. One of the premium factors on which the health insurance depends is on the age of the insured, addictions, BMI etc.; if the age is more the premium will be more. For it is advisable that you start a health insurance at an early age. At present, the health insurance plans available in India range in Rs. 5000 to Rs. 50,00,000, depending on the number of diseases covered. The family floater plans are usually more expensive than the individual plans.

So do not let medical expenses create more stress in your life. Get a perfect medical insurance today and stop hassles of last minute cash arrangements.

Ms. Pooja, a 42-year-old professional, was walking home after work when she suddenly suffered from a heart attack and had to be taken to the hospital immediately. Though she survived the attack, she had to undergo an angioplasty. The doctors informed her that the cost of the angioplasty was around INR 1 lakh. While Ms. Pooja was covered under a mediclaim policy, it did not offer coverage for the surgery. Her family members had to make last-minute arrangements for funds to meet her treatment costs. Pooja was not only worried about her recovery, but was also burdened under the financial debt of exorbitant medical bills.

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Like Ms. Pooja, many are unaware that basic health insurance plans do not provide coverage against critical illnesses. You, therefore, have to make out-of-pocket expenses towards the treatment of the same. A simple solution to such an issue is to avail of coverage under a critical illness policy.

About critical illness policy

Critical illnesses refer to life-threatening diseases such as kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, cancer, and permanent paralysis, among others. A critical illness policy is an insurance product that offers financial protection against such dreaded diseases. The insurance provider is liable to pay a lump sum amount upon diagnosis of the any of the critical illness as mentioned in the policy document.

Reasons to invest in a health insurance policy that includes critical illness

The benefits of purchasing a critical illness coverage are numerous. Following are six major reasons why you should purchase such a policy at the earliest.

  1. Provides financial security

Since the insurance provider offers a lump sum amount upon diagnosis of the disease, you may meet the cost of your treatment rather easily. You do not have to deplete your life savings or suffer from a major monetary blow. You may also use the lump sum amount to cover numerous other financial obligations, like lifestyle expenses, travel expenditure in case treatment is to be received at a far-away location, repayment of an existing debt, among others.

  1. Offers coverage against medical inflation

Medical inflation in India has reached a high of 13% to 15%. Private hospitals charge around INR 1.25 lakh to INR 2 lakh for an open heart surgery. The expenses incurred towards a valve surgery is even higher, with the cost ranging anywhere between INR 2.5 lakh to INR 2.75 lakh. Besides, the cost of diagnostic tests can be financially burdensome as well. For example, coronary angiography, which is a test that displays the insides of the coronary arteries, costs around INR 10,000 to INR 15,000. A critical policy comes to your rescue against rising medical costs. You may avail of quality treatment and focus on a speedy recovery by utilizing the lump sum amount received to pay for your treatment.

  1. Acts as income replacement

Diagnosis of a critical illness may affect your ability to work. You may be unable to generate income, for a temporary or even a permanent basis. Besides, your family will be left in a financial crunch if you are the breadwinner. You may, therefore, buy health insurance to ensure that your financial needs are taken care of even if you have contracted a critical illness. The salary that you used to draw from your workplace may be compensated through the sum assured amount offered by the insurer.

  1. Supplements your employer insurance

It is important to note that employer group policies generally do not cover critical illnesses. Additionally, you may lose insurance benefits if you switch the company or quit your current job. Opting for a critical illness cover, therefore, supplements your employer insurance policy while providing critical illness coverage at the same time.

  1. Ensures lower rates upon early purchase

The risk of contracting a critical illness is lower while you are young. Insurers perceive you as a low-risk individual and offer the benefit of low premiums when you invest in health plans early in life. Since the cost of premiums depends on age, you may consider investing in a critical illness policy as early as possible. Additionally, you may enjoy higher sum insured if you are in a lower age range.

  1. Provides general tax benefit

Premiums payable towards your policy is allowed as deduction from your taxable income. Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961, offers tax benefit in this regard. You may avail of tax benefit up to a maximum limit of INR 25,000 on premiums paid for self, spouse, and dependent children. You may claim an additional deduction of INR 25,000 towards premiums paid for covering your parents (if your parents are not senior citizens). If you are above 60 years of age, you may claim a higher tax benefit of INR 50,000. Besides, covering your retired parents will fetch you an additional INR 50,000 tax benefit. This means that you may usurp total tax benefit of INR 1 lakh (INR 50,000 + INR 50,000). Reducing tax liability is, therefore, one of the numerous health insurance benefits.

It is rightly said that health is wealth. You may protect your health by investing in a health plan that covers critical illnesses. By doing so, you may receive the much-needed financial support during challenging times.

There is often some confusion associated with Unit-Linked Insurance Plans [ULIPs] and Equity-Linked Savings Scheme [ELSS]. Both these financial instruments are eligible for tax benefits under the Income Tax Act.

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However, there are some differences between these products and it is important to understand these before you make an investment decision. Here are five such differences.

  1. Life coverage

ULIPs are insurance plans that combine life cover along with investments. A portion of the premium may be invested in various products such as debt, equity, money market, or hybrid instruments. The minimum sum assured is ten times the annual premium, which is seven times if you are over 45 years old at the time of investing.

In comparison, ELSS plans are diversified equity schemes that primarily invest in the stock markets. Unlike ULIPs, ELSS plans are only investment products and do not provide any life cover.

It is important to clearly understand your personal needs before you decide to invest in either of these two products.

  1. Taxability

Investments made in a ULIP plan or ELSS plan are eligible for tax deductions under section 80C of the Income Tax Act. The deduction is limited to a maximum amount of INR 1.5 lakh per annum.

ELSS plans fall under the EEE [Exempt, Exempt, Exempt] category. This means the investment amount, the earnings thereon, and the maturity proceeds are also exempt from taxes. The minimum lock-in period for ELSS plans is three years.

Investments made in ULIPs are eligible for a tax deduction when you remain invested for at least five years, which is the minimum lock-in period. Moreover, the maturity proceeds are also eligible for tax benefits. However, if the annual premium exceeds 10% of the sum assured, the maturity proceeds are added to your income and taxed at your regular income tax rate.

  1. Transparency and charges

ELSS funds levy only a single charge known as the ‘expense ratio’ or the fund management fee. This fee is adjusted against the Net Asset Value [NAV] of the fund and not separately charged. This allows you to determine the potential returns on your investment thereby providing complete transparency.

On the other hand, when you invest in ULIPs, a higher percentage of the total charges are levied during the initial investment period. The premium allocation charge, fund management fee, mortality charges, and policy administration charges are some of the fees associated with ULIP investments. After deducting all these charges, the balance amount is invested in different financial instruments. The charges are higher initially and reduce when you remain invested for the long-term, which may deliver lower returns on your investments. Moreover, you do not exactly know where your money is invested, which offers limited transparency. Additionally, some insurers may levy some of the charges by reducing the number of units and not the NAV, which also reduces the transparency.

This is an important difference between ULIP vs. ELSS and should be considered when you make the investment decision.

  1. Switching option

A portion of your ULIP premium is invested in different financial instruments. ULIPs allow you to switch your investment from one fund to another in case of any such need. Therefore, you are able to mitigate the risk posed due to market volatility. Additionally, as you grow older, you may reduce your equity exposure by switching your investment to debt instruments. Insurance companies offer a limited number of free switches and you need to consider this while making any switches.

In comparison, such versatility is not available when you invest in ELSS plans. You cannot switch or exit your investment until the end of the minimum lock-in period. However, you may consider the dividend option to avail of regular returns on your investments.

  1. Lock-in period

When you invest in a ULIP, you need to hold your investment for at least five years. During this period, you are unable to exit the investment or discontinue paying the premium. In case, you want to discontinue before the lock-in period, you will have to pay discontinuation charges with the balance money shifted to a discontinuation fund.

On the other hand, the minimum lock-in period for ELSS investments is three years. You cannot exit before the end of this period, which means there is no exit load for such investments.

Although you may exit both ULIP and ELSS at the end of their respective lock-in periods, it is recommended you hold your investments for a longer duration to maximize your returns. It is advisable you hold your ULIP investment for ten to 15 years while remaining invested in ELSS plans for seven to ten years is recommended.

ELSS and ULIPs are risky investments because the returns are dependent on the market performance. However, ULIPs are versatile because, in case of a market downturn, you have the flexibility of switching to debt products to prevent loss of your investment. This option is not available when you invest in ELSS plans. Moreover, ULIPs include life coverage, which is not included in ELSS. There are certain ULIP benefits and specific advantages of investing in ELSS plans. However, you need to take into consideration some factors while making your investment decision. Some of these include your risk taking capability, expected returns on investment, financial objective, and investment horizon.

It is recommended you research all the different options and evaluate your specific needs to make an accurate investment decision.

The word ‘test’ cannot be taken lightly. Be it a school test or a driving license test, there is some kind of pressure associated with it. What is the best way to reduce that pressure? The answer is preparation. Preparing to face the test gives you the knowledge as well as the confidence to pass the test.

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Your learning license test was online, but the driving license test will require you to drive a car with a supervising officer seated in the car. Usually, people have enough preparation time from the date they receive their learning license to the moment they fill the driving license application form.

Once you fill the driving license application form, you will be given a date and time for the practical test. It is natural to be a bit nervous while going for your driving license test. Read ahead to know some tips to prepare for your driving license test.

  • Bring Your Own Vehicle

While going for the practical driving license test, you can either take your vehicle with you or give the test using the vehicle available at the venue. It is better to take your vehicle with you as you will be used to driving it.

While practicing before the test as well, practice on one type of car, example – hatchback or a sedan. If you haven’t purchased a car yet, and are relying on the driving school for the car, or using a friend’s car to practice, ensure that they are of a similar type.

If you practice on a hatchback and get an old, squeaky, sedan for the test, the novelty factor associated with an unfamiliar car can deter your confidence. In case you get a different type of car, do not press the panic button as the basics of car driving remain the same.

  • Practice Those Moves

There are certain set patterns to a practical driving test. For example, drivers are asked to drive ahead in an 8-shaped pattern, reverse on a S-shaped route, drive on a slope, stop the car by parking parallelly, etc.

Practicing all these routines days before the test will be good for your muscle memory. Once you have mastered these moves while practicing, then you just have to replicate them during the practical driving test.

  • Don’t Forget the Basics

Wearing a seat belt, adjusting the rear-view mirrors, etc. are basic things that a driver does before driving a vehicle. During the pressure situation of a driving test, chances are that such basic activities might slip your mind. Therefore, making a conscious note about performing such activities during the test will help you to sail smoothly.

  • Keep Calm and Drive On

Do not lose your calm if things do not go as planned. Mistakes happen. It is okay to let one pass by and focus on the next task. You might fail to make the perfect turn but thinking about the mistake can ruin your next turn as well. Even if you make a mistake while giving the test, keep calm and drive on.

  • Be Patient

It is possible that you might have to wait a while for your turn to give your test. The supervisor might be a bit late or might have certain idiosyncrasies that might irritate you. However, you need to focus on the task at hand and be patient while driving and dealing with the supervisor. There is a possibility that the car might stop in between, gears might not change smoothly, there can be a problem with the gearbox, etc. Patience is in an important virtue while driving a car.

Satoshi Nakamoto was said to have become very disillusioned with central banks and governments handling our money and facilitating payments. This was in the backdrop of Lehman Brothers going down and great recession of year 2008 when Bitcoin was born. It’s almost a decade since Bitcoin first came into being. The idea was to create digital currency and global payment system which is free from any government control.

Image Source – BlockChain

Major Promises

  1. Government or any other authority will never know as how much money you hold and your transactions won’t be traced back to you. There will be 100 % privacy.
  2. Cross border payments and money transfer will be on real time without any third party involved to facilitate payment.

Well, we still don’t see Bitcoin [or any other crypto currency] being used in mainstream buying and selling.

What went wrong?

  1. Transaction time is in minutes and hours compared to seconds in centralized systems [except the cross border payments]. Bitcoin can’t scale beyond 7–10 transactions per second.
  2. Minors are free to pickup transactions from available pool of transactions while creation of blocks. Transaction even after being picked up by minor for block may end up back in the pool if part of block which was discarded by the network. There is just no fairness.
  3. One has to wait until the time you are sure that your transaction [block] is not going to be discarded. There is off course no guarantee of finality. It’s only the probability which increases with time.
  4. Bitcoin minors tend to consolidate to location where electricity is cheap. There is risk of government crackdown and takeover of the network.
  5. Governments are banning Bitcoin and other crypto currencies.For example, internet has moved to where it is today with many generations of evolution.
    Telecom Networks -> Packet Switching Networks -> ARPANET -> TCP/IP [OSI] -> InternetThe above is the simplistic view of evolution path of internet. This however was not simplistic, if we go back in time and explore the history of internet. ARPANET is one which succeeded but there were many more networks. But ARPANET was successfully able to solve problems and grow around the open standards. Open standard was very crucial for one single network to be where it is today.I have listed few problems with Bitcoin technology which has prevented it to become mainstream. It is so encouraging that there are other platforms which have already solved these problems. For example, the hashgraph technology which is essentially a consensus algorithm, seems to have solved many problems.
  • Scalability – Hashgraph can achieve 250,000+ transactions/second in current avatar.
  • Finality – There is finality of transaction which is not based on probability. It is based on ‘Gossip protocol’ and virtual voting.
  • Fairness – Transactions are not at the mercy of minors to get picked up to be part of ledger. Transactions get picked up as they are executed.

The only problem I see with hashgraph is that it’s not an open standard but patented technology. This limits everyone to contribute to the growth of hashgraph as universally accepted standard.

I see Hyperledger Fabric as a very favorable ledger technology for enterprise adoption. The most promising part of the Hyperledger Fabric is its architecture. It is modular and ready for further evolution based on open standards. The consensus algorithm for hashgraph could also be used as consensus algorithm for Hyperledger Fabric.

I believe there are two things that should happen for blockchain to get the maturity of internet.

  • Open Standards – There should be investments to evolve open standards, which will allow everyone to contribute and benefit, similar to TCP/IP.
  • Government involvement – Blockchain will be more impactful with active involvement of the government, as it was for internet.

I am overall very optimistic about blockchain and also about this becoming mainstream in near future.

About the author

Pushpendra Baghel is the Head Solutions & Technology Advisory Group at 3i Infotech Ltd. More details about him can be found here

Moving to a new city, a new house or a new office always seems exciting; but it comes a whole new set of unanswered questions. Though you might try your level best to select the best packers & movers for the relocation job, there is a chance that you choose price over quality. Another problem that consumers face is there is no way to track their belongings in real-time. ShiftKarado was founded with an aim to eliminate these challenges and offer a stress-free and transparent shifting experience by introducing a technology-enabled platform. Created by the promoters of Star Worldwide, the leaders in international relocations, ShiftKarado seeks to create a disruption through its transparent and real-time solutions for the domestic packing and moving industry.

ShiftKarado is focused on providing superlative, reliable, time-effective and simplified solutions to consumers looking to relocate a home, an office or a vehicle. With its services launched in late 2016, ShiftKarado was rolled out to plug the gap in the highly fragmented and unorganized Indian relocation segment which often leaves consumers stressed and perplexed about process and charges. The promoters of Star Worldwide observed that the pricing and relocating process was opaque, time-consuming and challenging due to the lack of reliable movers and packers in the city at affordable rates.

Catering primarily to B2C – House & vehicle relocation and B2B – office relocation, ShiftKarado crafts customized packaging options from start to finish without customers worrying about anything. Today we have a chat with Sahil Mithal and Mrs. Aulina Mithal Sood, Co-founders of ShiftKarado about the business, technology behind the offerings, competition, etc. & much more. So let’s get started with the Q&A….

Can you please walk us through on how did you come up with the idea of ShiftKarado and details about the core team behind the startup?

Our Founder, Mr. Atul Mithal saw a huge gap amongst the demand and supply of efficient packers and movers in the Indian market as compared to the international standards. He witnessed the problems of lack of rules and regulations, costly and poorly managed services and least to no security of cargo prevailing in the nation. It was then he started working on the idea and was later joined in by the company’s co-founders Sahil Mithal, Aulina Mithal Sood and Ashish Mullick.

While Sahil helped in technological aspects of the company, Aulina’s role is more customer-centric and training, while Ashish helped the organization in setting up of its initial structure, administrative and operation aspect. Then the employees kept coming on board and from being a newbie, the company has now become one of the crucial players in the industry leading in the race with its technological aspects.

Does ShiftKarado cater to the B2C segment only or it also caters to the B2B segment ?

ShiftKarado is not restricted to the B2C segment; it caters to businesses and institutions also and has a good clientele base in the B2B domain. Companies like Dainik Bhaskar, Prop Tiger, and CIANS  & OYO frequently hire ShiftKarado for transporting and relocating services.

Movers & Packers [in general the relocation market] is highly unorganized, how does ShiftKarado brings in more transparency and makes the sector more organized [than earlier] ?

In 2015, when ShiftKarado stepped into the packers and movers industry of India it was cluttered by companies that were providing unreliable services and ambiguous costs. An estimate for a move typically involved 2-3 days with the packers and movers wanting to first perform a home visit to conduct a Survey of the Items to be moved.

ShiftKarado simplified the entire process with its years of experience in international moving & a well-organized management system. The ShiftKarado Android App and Web Application were launched in August 2016 to provide a standard and simple interface for instant pricing, trouble-free bookings, and secure payments. This was a first one of a kind application in India and ShiftKarado had to rethink the pricing model that existed for decades to create an algorithm that would deliver prices to the customer in seconds not days.

The company makes use of the latest technology and analytic data to tailor their packing and moving services as per the customers’ requirements and engages with its customers in an interactive way with quick information and updates. With a full-fledged team of analysts, ShiftKarado works on a data-driven algorithm to calculate the distance between the two relocation sites, the volume of goods to be shipped and the time required for packing.

There are many startups in the logistics sector [either catering to pure B2B/B2C/only e-commerce shipments] that are also solving the similar problem, what are some of the core USP’s of ShiftKarado over these companies [in terms of technology, pricing, customer support, etc.] ?

It’s the technological aspects of our company along with our understanding of the international standards that primarily set us apart and give an edge over the competitors. Other than that, we also offer our clients, be it households or corporate with the instant booking, instant quotation, urban mobility, security, as well as transparency in our services.

ShiftKarado is currently operational in how many cities in India ?

The company is headquartered in Gurugram and has branches in New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Chandigarh, Mohali, Gurgaon, Greater Noida, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Pune, Navi Mumbai, Jaipur, and Kolkata.  ShiftKarado has also joined hands with OYO rooms for the Pan India relocation of their employees.

Does ShiftKarado work in the marketplace model or it has its own team of Movers & Packers ?

Being part of the Star Group Company, ShiftKarado is utilizing a mix of fleets, their own in-house fleet services and outsourced. Depending on the peak season & availability, they either use their own in-house fleets or outsource it from the third party in case of high demand, but always ensure quality is maintained throughout the move process.

How does ShiftKarado leverage technologies like Machine Learning, Deep Learning, AI and other emerging technologies, in order to provide deeper tracking of client’s belongings [thereby ensuring that there are fewer customer complaints] ?

With a mobile app and website integrated with Artificial Intelligence (AI), ShiftKarado keeps the entire relocation process transparent and instantaneous. ShiftKarado’s mobile app will have a live feature very soon which will enable the clients to track the status of their consignment. When the goods are packed, loaded, shipped, unloaded, and delivered, clients will get timely updates. Currently, ShiftKarado uses AI and data-driven technology to give out the exact quote for relocating any volume of goods between any two locations instantly. This includes parameters like destination, route map, nature of goods being transported, and the volume of the goods, as well as the floor on which the drop-off is to be made and whether or not a lift is available for higher floors. The initial quote, therefore, remains the final amount to be paid. ShiftKarado also has a feature of providing insurance protection which enables the customers to reduce the shipping stress while their office or household goods are in transit.

In the past, estimating the value for the potential insurance claim was manually done by the customers according to their estimate. This process was too inaccurate and time-consuming. However, development in the field of analytics has helped the industry to opt for insurance quickly and in the most efficient way. The data-driven suggestive pricing offered by relocation service providers nowadays helps in calculating the value of goods, which makes the whole insurance process smarter, more personalized, and much simpler.

What are some of the unique challenges that your team faced while servicing the B2B customers [either for complete office relocation/employee relocation, etc.] since B2B segment is very different from the B2C segment ?

True that serving B2B customers is different from B2C customers because the material handling, logistics and audit requirements is more challenging for the former. When it comes to office relocation the equipment is often large in number and specialized. In the early stages of our venture, we had to take extra measures in packing and moving the equipment such as desktops, servers, furniture, heaps of necessary papers and documents etc., for relocations.

However, we focused on designing an effective office relocation plan with new packing and moving methodology tailored to the requirements of the various departments. We also have a Records Management company within our group which partners with us when managing large volumes of documents. As far as the employee relocations are concerned we closely work with the HR and Admin departments to manage the relocation budgets yet ensure the employee of the company is not burdened by the relocation process.

Being an offering from the promoters of Stars Worldwide, how those learning’s were helpful in scaling ShiftKarado ?

Star Worldwide Group has been a leader in International Relocations, Fine Art Handling and Records and Information Management Services, for over 30 years.  They have been serving top MNC’s, embassies and other international organizations for decades. Star is also an ISO 9001, 14001 and 18001 certified company. Our Head office, along with branches in Mumbai and Bangalore are verified by FAIM auditors, Ernst and Young, to ensure compliance with the rigorous FIDI-FAIM quality standards. The standards cover the end-to-end moving process including, but not limited to, packing material, trucks, warehouse, and safety and are bench marked against global best practices.

Star Worldwide is also one of the most reputed names, globally, in fine arts packing and transportation. Due to its reputation, the company is the only one in India to be accredited by both, ARTIM and ICEFAT, which set the highest standards in fine art shipping.  The standards involved are very scientific and the greatest of care is taken to ensure the movement of priceless and rare artifacts. This work culture and attention to detail is also carried into ShiftKarado. Star Worldwide guidance helps us ensure that our clients get the best learning and experience accumulated and refined over decades, built into our systems.

Thus, ShiftKarado, apart from the benefits of the vast Group infrastructure, also have the privilege to learn and incorporate the same highest standards of professionalism, client servicing, seamless work processes, and safety measures, as followed by Star Worldwide.

[L-R] Founders – ShiftKarado [Sahil Mithal & Aulina Mithal Sood]

One of the major issues in relocation is parcels getting missed/material being damaged in transit, etc., how does ShiftKarado ensure that there are zero such issues for its customers and does it also provide any transit insurance ?

For each relocation consignment, we have project coordinators along with the full-fledged team of packers and movers who keep a complete check on what goods has been packed and loaded and what is unloaded and relocated. Before packing the goods, we develop plans in which the location of all office equipment, household furniture, telephones, computers, crockery, machines and everything else is charted out as a checklist. A packing inventory is shared with the client that contains the details of the goods to be moved.

Our operations mobile application and internal dashboards also help us track the activity, duration and the team members involved and take stock of the packages during its movement. To prevent the goods from any damage, high-quality packing material such as cartons, corrugated sheets, and bubble wrap etc., are used for packingOur crew and partners are trained to handle packages during the packing, transportation and loading/unloading as per their handling labels.

Though security and safety of the goods and materials are paramount in our services, however, we do offer risk cover to the clients. We have partnered with top reputed insurance company and offer ITC A and ITC B risk covers. You may get more information about risk cover and insurance here. Yes, we have our own customer support team which remains active in responding to the customers’ requests and queries.

Since ShiftKarado does not have its own fleet for relocation, please name some of the prominent partners of ShiftKarado and how does ShiftKarado ensure that there is a fair-pricing policy with its partners.

Being part of the Star Group Company, ShiftKarado is utilizing a mix of fleets, their own in-house fleet services and outsourced. Depending on the peak season & availability, they either use their own in-house fleets or outsource it from the third party in case of high demand. We only deal with trusted partners that have been associated with us for a number of years or have gone through our audit process. All prices are benchmarked with our existing providers within our application

We should have asked this question earlier, how did you come up with the name ShiftKarado [since it does not have a mass appeal due to the usage of a Hindi word] and what were some of the other names that had popped up during the discussion ?

Though the name ShiftKarado does not have a mass recognition as of now, it does trigger a sense of Indian-ness in the minds of first-time customers. When we were brainstorming for a name for this new venture, we did research on what kind of queries and responses the relocation service providers encounter.

As we are focused on the Indian market, we had to build a brand that is easy for Indian people to emotionally connect with and simple to memorize. The questions such as “Hume apna ghar shift karana hai!” helped us coming up to a conclusion that ShiftKarado would be a right choice to name our brand because “Hum Shifting karatey hain.”

Please walk us through the funding of ShiftKarado and whether you are open to external funding ?

ShiftKarado is a completely a bootstrapped company since its inception. We have the benefit of the strong financials of our Group.

Technology has been rapidly evolving at a rapid pace [with the advent of wearables, smart connectivity, IoT,etc.], where do you see the entire ‘Logistics sector’ evolve with the fast-paced technological changes ?

Versatile customer expectations, the burgeoning of relocation service providers, and technological advances will disrupt the industry as innovative ways to outrank the competitors would be brought up. But, digital technology is one of the major challenges that the transportation and logistics sector must deal with. Though many logistics companies are planning to invest at least 5~6% of their annual revenue in the blooming digital culture, those who do not adapt themselves until 2020 are vulnerable to business failure.

Also, Machine learning and Artificial intelligence integrated with data analytics help greatly in scaling the dynamic routing. Even the package delivery culture is being digitally transformed through the autonomous vehicles and drones which result in quick delivery and a reduced workforce. Augmented Reality (AR) may also make the drivers more efficient by giving them complete and detailed information about the environment, climate change, route planning etc. Using the Internet of Things (IoT), the inventory and warehouses can be safeguarded well. Safety alarms and sensors which use IoT can help detect and neutralize hazards remotely and/or automatically.

Can you share some tips for building an effective team for startups [especially the initial core team] ?

Startups success depends on the strength and commitment of its team and failure on the founder’s negligence and unawareness of his people. In any startup organization, a solid team calls for expert industry professionals who are not only best at their work, but also competent in self-governance and self-motivation. The initial core team should be built, not simply to fill the empty seats in the office, but to expand the office through the means of hard work and commitment to only one vision—the company growth. For this, individuals should focus on getting expertise, experience, and exposure corresponding to the requirement of the startup firm.

Entrepreneurs must create a productive work environment where each team member realizes his job role & the contribution expected. The team should be continually motivated by appreciating their small efforts and guiding them to rectify their blunders. Members should be given the liberty to take the road less travelled by; the approach never before is taken, to challenge their own capabilities. It’s also important not to slide into a comfort-zone within the first few months. Start-ups need to keep exploring, tweaking and questioning their game plan as often as weekly to ensure greater chances of success.

2017 was a tough year for startups [especially from a funding point of view], how according to you should entrepreneurs deal with such adverse situations ?

Entrepreneurs can seek expert advice from financial advisors who have a sound knowledge of startup culture, their needs, and functional dynamics. Will crowdfunding be the right choice or bootstrapping, the financial advisor can rightly assist the entrepreneurs in having a backup plan in case of hard times.

Situational analysis and short-term strategic planning should be given prominence so as to be prepared for the challenges which startups usually face in the inception stage.

How important is it for early-stage startups to pivot their business model [in case things are not working out as per their plan] or when is the right time to pivot ?

Pivoting in start-ups is key to survival. Entrepreneurs who are initially enthusiastic about their Plan A, may need to pivot to Plan B or C within a year, when the results are underachieved, or the market has greater potential. Switching to Plan B or C may open new revenue stream and growth opportunities, to push through giving 100% efforts, dedicated time, and right resources to Plan A is often a smart choice.

Pivoting involves group discussions, analyzing failure, looking at competition, redefining certain key positions, incorporating new ideas, and challenging your initial idea.

As per your entrepreneurial experience, when should an entrepreneur look out for external funding?

External funding definitely gives you a large canvas to work on and a lot more flexibility. When the startup has proven customer traction and now needs to expand its reach and double its sales exponentially, tying up with the giant investors for external funding can be a profitable deal. However, entrepreneurs should avoid investors when a strong and large base of customers is already funding the company’s growth.

Some books that you highly recommend for entrepreneurs ?

I enjoy reading books that tell a story of struggle and hardship. The ones that left me feeling motivated are ‘Zen Garden‘ by Subroto Bagchi, ‘The Buck Stops Here‘ by Ashutosh Garg and ‘Losing my Virginity‘ Autobiography of Richard Branson. There is no success story without failure and there is a need for successful business to use their means and participate in building society and work towards greater well-being of all.

Some closing thoughts for our readers!

Don’t over think, don’t over plan! There is no such thing as a perfect moment. Most of us miss the train waiting for the perfect moment. Believe in yourself, don’t doubt your capabilities and imagine yourself achieving success… Your thoughts will turn into action and action speaks louder!

We thank the co-founders for their time and sharing valuable insights with our readers! If you have any questions for the team at ShiftKarado about the company, starting up, scaling up, etc., please email them to himanshu.sheth@gmail.com or leave your question in the comments section.